The Senate today sent President Obama a scaled-down bill to explicitly ban members of Congress, the president, and thousands of other federal workers from profiting from nonpublic information learned on the job. In an unusual move, the legislation passed unanimously without a vote on the measure itself. Instead it passed automatically via a procedural maneuver that only Republicans Tom Coburn, Chuck Grassley, and Richard Burr voted against. Obama has said he will sign the bill.
The bill promises to give the public a more frequent look at financial transactions of government officials, with reports posted online within 45 days of a transaction. The Senate had initially begun with a stronger version of the bill, but Harry Reid ultimately abandoned it in favor of a scaled-back House version. A driving force behind the legislation has been Congress' dismal approval ratings, which have ranged from 12% to 19% in polls over the last several weeks. (Read more insider trading stories.)