- The White House says it's up to Congress to decide stock trading rules for its own members.
- Psaki said that Biden "believes that everyone should be held to the highest standard."
- Her remarks come after Biden aide Brian Deese praised the idea on Friday, saying it "makes a lot of sense."
The White House said on Tuesday that it's up to Congress to decide stock-trading rules for its members amid a push by some lawmakers to impose a ban on the practice for lawmakers and their spouses.
President Joe Biden "believes that everyone should be held to the highest standard" for stock trading but he'll let congressional leaders and members "determine what the rules should be," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said when asked about the topic during a press briefing.
—ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 18, 2022
Psaki also noted that during Biden's decades-long tenure in the Senate, he didn't trade individual stocks. Biden was widely known as one of the least wealthiest members of Congress.
"That is how he approached things," Psaki said.
Last week, White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese told CNBC's "Squawk Box" that a ban on stock trading, which currently already applies to executive branch employees, is "sensible" and called more broadly for restoring "faith in our institutions."
"There's a lot of distrust and mistrust around how politics works, around the political process," he said. "One of the things that we need to do across the board is restore faith in our institutions, whether that be Congress and the legislative branch, whether that be the Fed and otherwise and so anything we can do to try to restore that faith, I think makes a lot of sense."
White House officials later told Insider that they're not endorsing a specific proposal for ethics in Congress.
"As Brian said this morning, President Biden believes that all government agencies and officials, including independent agencies, should be held to the highest ethical standards, including the avoidance of any suggestion of conflicts of interest," White House assistant press secretary Emilie Simons said. "At this early point in the legislative process, the White House has not endorsed any bill text."
Insider's "Conflicted Congress" investigation found that 54 members of Congress failed to properly report their financial trades as mandated by the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012, also known as the STOCK Act.
Insider then reached out to the White House for comment, alerting officials about the investigation's findings. Officials were asked to comment on the findings given that Biden was vice president when President Barack Obama signed the STOCK Act into law.
At the time, Obama said the law was crucial to restoring faith in government.
Yet the White House did not reply to requests to comment on what it wanted Congress to do in light of Insider's findings. During Biden's 2020 presidential campaign, he pledged to work with Congress to pass legislation to prevent self-enrichment via personal financial holdings.
Polling shows that the idea of a ban is wildly popular with the American public, and a crush of lawmakers have introduced bills to curtail the practice in recent weeks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, while continuing to resist the idea of a ban, has asked the Committee on House Administration to review compliance with the STOCK Act and weigh imposing heftier fines on violators.