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Virginia Democrat torches own party for not taking action on banning Congress from trading stocks, calls for new leadership: 'This moment marks a failure'

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Alex Wong/Getty Images

A Virginia Democrat called for new leadership in her party after plans to vote on legislation banning lawmakers from trading stocks were scrapped.

Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) lashed out at her own Democrat Party for engaging in "delay tactics" when it comes to banning members of Congress, their spouses, and their dependent children from buying, selling, and trading individual stocks.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said a bill prohibiting lawmakers from trading stocks would "probably" not get a vote this week. The delay would cause the bill not to be voted on before Congress leaves to campaign ahead of the 2022 midterms.

The text of the proposed "Combatting Financial Conflicts of Interest in Government Act" was released on Tuesday night. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) directed Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) to draft the bill in February.

However, Pelosi scoffed at a reporter who asked if Congress members and their spouses should be banned from trading stocks in December 2021. Pelosi defended Congress members trading stocks, "This is a free market and people — we are a free market economy. They should be able to participate in that."

Hoyer told CNN, "I haven’t read it, it's a complicated issue, as you can imagine, as a new rule for members they have to follow, and their families as I understand, so I think it deserves careful study to make sure if we do something, we do it right."

Spanberger was vexed by her party not taking action on legislation that would prevent lawmakers from possibly profiting from being privy to information that some have deemed to be akin to "insider trading."

"Our job as elected officials is to serve the people — not ourselves," Spanberger said in a statement released on Friday. "That’s why I’ve been proud to lead the charge on legislation to ban Members of Congress and their immediate families from trading individual stocks — not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because the Virginians I represent overwhelmingly support it and want us to get it done."

On Jan. 15, 2021, Spanberger introduced her "Transparent Representation Upholding Service and Trust (TRUST) in Congress Act" to prohibit trading stocks by members of Congress and their spouses. Spanberger said her bill had received bipartisan support.

"For months, momentum grew in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate to finally take a step towards prohibiting Members of Congress from day trading while on the job," she said. "We saw remarkable progress towards rectifying glaring examples of conflicts of interest."

"And after first signaling her opposition to these reforms, the Speaker purportedly reversed her position. However, our bipartisan reform coalition was then subjected to repeated delay tactics, hand-waving gestures, and blatant instances of Lucy pulling the football," she said, making a reference to "Charlie Brown."

“This moment marks a failure of House leadership — and it’s yet another example of why I believe that the Democratic Party needs new leaders in the halls of Capitol Hill, as I have long made known," Spanberger proclaimed. "Rather than bring Members of Congress together who are passionate about this issue, leadership chose to ignore these voices, push them aside, and look for new ways they could string the media and the public along — and evade public criticism."

She slammed the Combatting Financial Conflicts of Interest in Government Act, "As part of their diversionary tactics, the House Administration Committee was tasked with creating a new piece of legislation — and they ultimately introduced a kitchen-sink package that they knew would immediately crash upon arrival, with only days remaining before the end of the legislative session and no time to fix it."

“It’s apparent that House leadership does not have its heart in this effort, because the package released earlier this week was designed to fail," the Virginia Democrat declared. "It was written to create confusion surrounding reform efforts and complicate a straightforward reform priority — banning Members of Congress from buying and selling individual stocks — all while creating the appearance that House Leadership wanted to take action."

"In the months ahead, I will be dogged in my efforts to ban Members of Congress from using the privilege of their position to profit," she concluded. "I look forward to working with both my Democratic and Republican colleagues to get these reforms done."

During a press conference on Friday, Pelosi responded to Spanberger bashing the leadership of the Democratic Party, "Her bill is in the bill, others had ideas too. And that’s what the committee put forth. But it’s good press because you asked a question."

This isn't the first time that Spanberger has criticized her own party.

In November 2020, Spanberger blasted progressive Democrats pushing the defund the police agenda and socialism before the 2020 elections.

"We need to be pretty clear. It was a failure. It was not a success. We lost incredible members of Congress," she reportedly said during a caucus phone conference. "We have to commit to not saying the words 'defund the police' ever again. We need to not ever use the words socialist or socialism ever again. It does matter, and we have lost good members because of that."

"If we run this race again we will get f***ing torn apart again in 2022," she declared.

In June, Spanberger made an appearance on Fox News where the Democrat explained that she didn't want help from President Joe Biden in her election campaign.

"I intend to do the campaigning myself. I am the candidate. It is my name on the ballot," Spanberger told host Dana Perino. "Certainly when I first ran, I ran in an R +7 district. And I won in that seat by getting out, speaking to voters, making sure that they know who I am and what it is that I intended to do for them."

"In 2020, [I] ran for re-election and certainly outperformed the president on the ballot by telling the people what I had done and what I was going to continue to do," she boasted.

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