In a near unanimous vote, the U.S. Senate advanced on Monday a bill forcing congressional members to be more transparent about their investments after television show 60 Minutes revealed suspicious financial patterns among some political figures.
The Senate voted 92-2 to further discussion on the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act. The bill would formally prohibit congressional members from using information discussed in the halls of Congress to profit personally. Congressional members would also be required to report changes in their personal investments within 30 days.
Senators on both sides of the aisle supported the bill that was virtually unknown before the 60 Minutes expose including Tea Party darling Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders.
"They may not use privileged information they get on the job to personally profit, but the perception remains that a few members of Congress are using their positions as public servants to serve themselves instead," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told CBS Monday.
"The STOCK Act will clear up any perception that it's acceptable for members of Congress to profit from insider trading,"
UBM TechWeb website Advanced Trading predicts that the legislation could be on President Barack Obama's desk by Friday.
According to the OpenSecrets.org, 47 percent of the 250 members of Congress are millionaires.
In November, CBS' 60 Minutes took a closer look at the riches of congressional members Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) and found that they all made stock trades that were uncomfortably close to legislative information previously discussed on Capitol Hill.
Though none of the Congressmen did anything wrong, the story sparked debate on Capitol Hill.
Since the November show, dozens of the lawmakers signed on to support the STOCK Act. Pelosi, Boehner and Bachus all said they would consider the bill for passage. Also President Obama called for the bill in his 2012 State of the Union address.
Not everyone is completely supportive of the bill first introduced in 2004. Republicans Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma both voted no on the STOCK Act.
Burr's spokesman states that there are already federal laws on the books which prohibit congressional insider trading among lawmakers and their staff.
Colburn told Politico he is concerned about the adverse effects of the bill. "What happens the first time somebody doesn't make that 30-day deadline? They violated the statute in law," he said. "What are we doing? You're not going to have anybody up here except the super, super-rich because nobody is going to say, 'I can't put all my money away and not trade.' It's nuts."
Five other senators did not vote.