In November 2011 (when the public approval rating of Congress sunk below 15 percent), the CBS TV show “60 Minutes” broadcast an exposé on insider trading within Congress. Members of Congress were exempt from the basic rules that apply to everyone else. Within months, lame duck Senator Joe Lieberman sponsored and Congress passed the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act. On Thursday, Congress rolled back a big part of the law, specifically the point about requiring high level staffers to electronically file disclosures about their financial transactions, due to a threat of “national risk.” So insider trading by Congress is still prohibited but the promise of a publicly accessible, searchable database of pertinent financial records has been reneged.
Congress didn’t need the standard three days to read the defanged bill before holding a vote last week. Instead it acted faster than Ivan Boesky with a hot tip. Within 12 hours, the House and Congress passed the legislation by unanimous consent. On Monday, President Obama signed it into law.