As Congress enters lame-duck season, Democratic legislators have a chance to prove their endless rhetoric is more than mere hot air. All they have to do is pass the Electoral Count Act and Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger’s bipartisan stock-trading ban for members and their families.
On the first: Democrats have used the shameful conduct of President Donald Trump and the rioters he energized on Jan. 6 as the basis for a series of hearings, plus unceasing plaints about how we need to safeguard our democracy. But they haven’t actually done anything about the unclear law that served as the pretext for Trump’s call to arms.
The Electoral Count Act — a version of which has passed in the House already — would, by vastly raising the congressional threshold for objections to state electors and making it much harder for state officials to interfere (plus clearing up the vice president’s role in the certification process as 100% ceremonial).
Dems first tied the bill to their overall efforts to federalize all election law (which would be truly anti-democratic). Now the Senate is signaling it could be part of their must-pass omnibus spending bill.
No: Just get it done as a stand-alone bill and prove you really care about keeping democracy safe.
A stock-trading ban is another obvious gimme that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been strategically delaying for months, even after a brutal New York Times exposé on members’ hyperactive trading.
The Spanberger proposal would require all members of Congress and their spouses and under-18 dependents to either divest or put all assets into actually blind trusts or widely held funds, with clear penalties for failure to comply and no shady carveouts.
That this hasn’t happened yet is testament to Democrats’ self-serving resistance (though Republicans may yet show themselves to be as bad). Proving, yet again, that rhetoric on inequality — what could be more of a “systemic” problem than federal legislators investing in the companies they’re supposed to oversee? — takes a backseat to the greed of the governing class.
Democrats should use their control of the Congress to do something useful, before the GOP House majority is seated and brings new uncertainty. Get these two bills done and America will thank you.