Senators Jon Ossoff, Mark Kelly Introduce Bill to Ban Stock Trading by Congress Members
The legislation comes as Congress faces scrutiny for members buying and selling stock while in office.The Ban Congressional Stock Trading Act would require every member of Congress—as well as their spouses and dependent children—to place their stock portfolios into a blind trust. The arrangement is meant to prevent members of Congress from using insider information to profit off their investments.
© Al Drago/Pool via Associated Press/Greg Nash Ossoff and Collins clash over her past support for voting rights legislation
Freshman Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), who has kept a low profile for much of his first year in office, spoke up Thursday evening on the Senate floor to challenge Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) over what he characterized as her evolving position on voting rights legislation.
Ossoff, the youngest member of the Senate, made the bold move of tangling with Collins by suggesting she had flip-flopped on her support for the Voting Rights Act, an implication that Collins fiercely disputed as inaccurate in a tense back-and-forth between the two senators on the floor.
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Former President Obama is throwing his support behind President Biden's push to change the filibuster for voting rights legislation.Obama, in a Wednesday opinion piece for USA Today, said the filibuster is "the only thing standing in the way" of Congress passing federal voting rights reform."That's why I fully support President Joe Biden's call to modify Senate rules as necessary to make sure pending voting rights legislation gets called for a vote," Obama wrote."And every American who cares about the survival of our most cherished institutions should support the president's call as well," he added.
Collins, a leading moderate who played a key role in negotiating last year's bipartisan infrastructure bill, is highly respected and known to be well-prepared for any debate. For this reason, colleagues usually avoid public clashes with her.
But Collins has also become a favorite target of progressives ever since she voted to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump's highly controversial nominee, to the Supreme Court in 2018.
Ossoff on Thursday decided to take a shot at her and other senior Republicans over their past support for voting rights legislation.
He pointed out that Collins voted for a 2006 reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act but opposing a motion to proceed to the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act last year.
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Collins made it clear she didn't appreciate Ossoff's arguments and warned he was at risk of violating the Senate's Rule XIX, which bars any senator from imputing "any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator."
But Ossoff didn't back down.
He challenged Collins's claim that the Voting Rights Act remains substantially intact because the Department of Justice can still challenge new voting laws on the basis that they improperly restrict civil rights.
He argued that a landmark Supreme Court case hollowed out the 1965 act by limiting the Justice Department's ability to block new voting restrictions before they go into effect.
"Abraham Lincoln must be turning in his grave to hear the senators from the Grand Old Party," Ossoff said in a provocative opening to his floor speech earlier in the evening, arguing that Senate Republicans today are "echoing" states' rights arguments "to oppose the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act."
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He noted that Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was the only Republican to vote in November to proceed to the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which is intended to reauthorize the 1965 Voting Rights Act and reinstate parts of that law that were thrown out by the Supreme Court in its 2013 decision Shelby County v. Holder.
Ossoff called out four Republican colleagues by name - something that senators usually avoid for fear of ruffling feathers - including Collins, for backing the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in the past but voting against proceeding to the Democrats' update to that bill.
He pointed out that Collins "previously said this bill will ensure that the voting rights afforded to all Americans are protected."
He argued it was hypocritical for Republicans to praise late Rep. John Lewis (R-Ga.) as a hero of the civil rights movement but oppose the voting rights reauthorization bill named after him.
"I speak for the state of Georgia when I say do not invoke Congressman Lewis's name to signal your virtue while you work to erode his legacy and defy his will," he said.
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PHOENIX (AP) — As the nation prepares to mark the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., some members of his family are spending it in conservative-leaning Arizona to mobilize support for languishing federal voting rights legislation. Martin Luther King III; his wife, Arndrea Waters King; and their daughter Yolanda Renee King, 13, will take part Saturday in an on-the-ground campaign for voting rights in Phoenix. They will march with local activists and supporters from Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, a predominantly Black church, and speak about the importance of “no celebration without legislation.
That didn't sit with Collins who rose to rebut Ossoff later in the debate.
"I do support the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and I did so as did every other senator in 2006. But to equate that to the legislation that is before us now is simply not worthy," she shot back.
She raised Ossoff's young age and questioned if he even knew what he was talking about, pointing out that the voting rights legislation pending before the Senate Thursday is entirely different from the 1965 civil rights law.
"I'm not sure that the senator from Georgia was even born in 1965," she said. "I voted enthusiastically and I did say that about the Voting Rights Reauthorization in 2006 and surely my colleague is not confusing that bill, which was five pages long ... with the bill that is before the Senate tonight, which is 735 pages long."
But Ossoff argued that the voting rights reauthorization that Democrats introduced last year would restore the parts of 1965 law that were thrown out by the 2013 Supreme Court decision.
The court decided in Shelby County that local jurisdictions covered by the 1965 law no longer had to seek pre-clearance for changes to voting rules with the Justice Department.
"I believe more strongly than ever that pre-clearance is necessary," Ossoff said.
He made the case that the Department of Justice loses valuable time by having to wait until new voting laws are implemented before challenging them in court.
He insisted that he was not questioning Collins's "motives or integrity" but simply wanted to point out "what I believe to be an inconsistency, an inconsistency between voting consistently to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and lauding it as a signature civil right achievement but then voting not even to allow debate in this body on the legislation that was created to respond to the Supreme Court's invitation to uphold its pre-clearance provision."
Collins responded by saying her colleague was comparing apples to oranges.
"This is entirely different from a debate on a 735-page bill," she said.
Voting rights fight shifts back to statehouses as Senate Democrats fail to advance national protections .
Just weeks from the first primaries of the 2022 midterm elections, the fight over voting rights is unfolding again at the state level -- with Republicans in several swing states proposing new measures that would make it harder to vote. © Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America/Getty Images A view of voting booths at the Santa Clara County registrar of voters office on October 13, 2020 in San Jose, California.