President Barack Obama Wednesday signed legislation aimed at preventing members of Congress and congressional aides from profiting from information collected during the course of federal investigations.
Obama, who signed the bill using roughly a dozen ceremonial pens, signed into law the STOCK Act, which had first been introduced in 2006 and was passed overwhelmingly this year.
Obama said the measure would be an important step in reassuring the American people that their public servants in Congress were not enriching themselves through information not made available to the public.
"The STOCK Act makes it clear that if members of Congress use nonpublic information to gain an unfair advantage in the market, then they are breaking the law," he said. "It creates new disclosure requirements and new measures of accountability and transparency for thousands of federal employees."
He added, "That is a good and necessary thing. We were sent here to serve the American people and look out for their interests -- not to look out for our own interests."
Obama said that he was proud to sign the bill into law - the measure comes at a time when public trust in Congress is at near historic lows - but more needs to be done.
"Our work isn't done. There's obviously more that we can do to close the deficit of trust and limit the corrosive influence of money in politics," he said. "We should limit any elected official from owning stocks in industries that they have the power to impact."
He added, "We should make sure people who bundle campaign contributions for Congress can't lobby Congress, and vice versa. … They certainly have wide support outside of Washington. And it's my hope that we can build off today's bipartisan effort to get them done."
Obama said that the coming months, leading up to the Presidential election in November, would offer many opportunities for disagreement and debate on issues like the economic recovery, taxes and ensuring the American Dream remains accessible to all.
And while Obama said he would welcome those debates, it should not prevent Congress from moving forward in other areas where there is broad agreement.
"I want to thank all the members of Congress who came together and worked to get this done," he said. "It shows that when an idea is right that we can still accomplish something on behalf of the American people and to make our government and our country stronger."
by RTT Staff Writer
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