Rashida Tlaib Proposes Defense Stock Ban for Members of Congress

The bill would ban members of Congress from trading in weapons companies like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, as well as in Amazon, Pfizer and thousands more Department of Defense contractors.

Rashida Tlaib Proposes Defense Stock Ban for Members of Congress
Representative Rashida Tlaib (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Take Back the Court Action Fund)

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) earlier this month introduced legislation that would ban members of Congress, their spouses, and their dependent children from holding or trading stock in companies that have contracted or otherwise transacted with the Department of Defense. 

Under current law, members of Congress and their family members can invest in securities, including in the stocks of companies they oversee, as long as they publicly disclose their holdings annually and report transactions within 45 days. The ability for members of Congress to invest in defense and weapons may pose especially strong conflicts of interest as companies like Lockheed Martin and RTX (Raytheon) rely on government contracts funded by congressional appropriations for a large majority of their revenue. 

“The American people deserve representatives who vote in the best interest of our country and our families, not their stock portfolios,” said Tlaib in a statement announcing the bill. “It is shameful that some of my colleagues are profiting financially when they vote to support wars and weapons manufacturing.”

The bill, titled the Stop Politicians Profiting from War Act, was filed on February 6 and has been referred to four House committees. It has one co-sponsor–Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.). Several non-governmental organizations have endorsed the bill, including Jewish Voice for Peace Action, Public Citizen, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

According to Capitol Trades, members of Congress made 96 transactions in defense stocks last year, including eight purchases that were made following the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas. More defense stock trades have been made since the beginning of the year. Reps. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) and Kathy Manning (D-N.C.) have bought Lockheed Martin stock, and Rep. Blake Moore (R-Utah) has sold RTX stock and bought Boeing stock.

Tlaib’s legislation would apply to a far broader swath of stocks than just those of companies that are known for selling weapons and services to the military. Thousands of companies in a wide range of industries contract or have contracted with the Department of Defense, including some of the most commonly held stocks. For example, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, each of which have recently been among the top five most commonly held stocks by members of Congress, are currently executing a $9 billion contract with the Defense Department that was awarded to them in 2022. Pharmaceutical company Pfizer, another widely owned stock, was awarded a $3.2 billion contract with the Army in 2022 to provide COVID vaccines. General Electric, another popular stock among lawmakers, sells the military services related to 5G technology, as well as aircraft engine hardware through its GE Aerospace division.