On Monday, Business Insider reported that a prominent House Republican on a budget task force bought up to $30,000 in stocks for two major defense contractors — as he pushed for an increase to the federal military budget.
"Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma and his wife invested up to $15,000 in Raytheon Technologies and up to $15,000 in Lockheed Martin, according to a recently filed federal financial disclosure. Members of Congress are only required to disclose the value of their investments in broad ranges," reported Madison Hall. "Raytheon Technologies is a defense contractor that creates drones, guided missiles, air defense systems, and other weapons platforms. Lockheed Martin similarly produces missiles and aerospace vehicles used in military operations."
"Raytheon and Lockheed Martin's products have also been used in the war in Ukraine. In May, Insider identified 20 lawmakers who are invested in the two companies and were set to profit from the $40 billion Ukraine aid package that was later signed into action by President Joe Biden," said the report. "Hern is a member of the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of GOP House representatives that 'provides the tools and research that members of Congress need to craft and advance policies,' according to the committee's site. As the chair of the committee's Budget and Spending Task Force, Hern and the committee released an alternative budget for the 2023 fiscal year that vows to cut $16.6 trillion in spending over 10 years while increasing defense funding by 5% to $845 billion."
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All of this comes amid a new wave of controversy over how members of Congress in both parties buy and sell individual stocks while legislating policy on the companies in question. As the report noted, "Only about a dozen members of Congress — Hern is not among them — have reported using what's known as a qualified blind trust, a formal arrangement, requiring congressional approval, in which a lawmaker officially transfers management of their financial assets to an independent trustee."
Officially, the STOCK Act of 2012 is designed to curb insider trading in Congress by requiring members to disclose their investments publicly, but in practice, many members don't even comply with this requirement.
The scope of the ongoing misconduct has prompted calls to ban members of Congress and their immediate families from trading individual stocks altogether — a proposal that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) originally viewed with skepticism but eventually endorsed.
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