What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Enforcing Congressional Ethics : (S. 2038) On an amendment to require members of Congress with a financial stake in a private company to avoid conflicts of interest by selling off stock or placing it in a blind trust
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(S. 2038) On an amendment to require members of Congress with a financial stake in a private company to avoid conflicts of interest by selling off stock or placing it in a blind trust
senate Roll Call 13     Feb 02, 2012
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

This vote was on an amendment by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) that would have required senators and their top staff members to take more aggressive steps to avoid conflicts of interest. If these individuals owned stock in a company that could be affected by a vote in Congress, Sen. Brown’s amendment would have required them to either sell the stock or put their investments in a blind trust.

“Baseball players cannot bet on their games. We should not be able to hold stock in individual companies and then vote on issues that affect our holdings,” Sen. Brown said.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) objected that the amendment might force members of Congress to make decisions that would hurt small businesses partly owned by lawmakers. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT) argued that the amendment was unnecessary because the bill under consideration already included a requirement that members of Congress publicly disclose their investment activities.

“Sunshine is the best guarantee of integrity,” Sen. Lieberman said. “We have increased the public's access to information about our holdings and our transactions. Ultimately, that knowledge ought to be enough to guarantee the public or to energize the public to make sure we are following the highest ethical norms. Divestment, in my opinion, is a step too far.”

Sen. Brown’s amendment was defeated by a vote of 26-73. Voting “yea” were 21 Democrats, including a majority of progressives, and 5 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 41 Republicans and 32 Democrats. As a result, the bill moved forward without requiring lawmakers to sell stock or put investments in a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest.

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