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Congress’s Big Tech Stock Stakes Make Regulation Awkward

A proposed antitrust bill has cast a spotlight on the immense portfolios of dozens of lawmakers.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg

At a December press conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked her opinion of proposed restrictions on stock trading by members of Congress. Her response was quick and clear: She hated the idea. “We are a free-market economy,” Pelosi, whose family’s shareholdings exceed $100 million, shot back. “They should be able to participate in that.”

Growing numbers of legislators from both sides of the aisle disagree. Following a series of recent abuses, at least five bills making their way through Congress would forbid lawmakers from owning individual stocks or force them to move their assets into a blind trust. One would make violators turn over any profits they earn to the U.S. Treasury Department. Another would extend the ban to family members. A third would also encompass top staffers.