Senators and Congressional Trading: What to Know


Today, the House said it is considering banning members of Congress from trading. A lot has been said about this in the past, and numerous congressional members are against it.

At Unusual Whales, we have done the job of highlighting the performance of numerous members, and some of their unusual trades. As a result, I looked at all financial disclosures from December 1, 2020 to Jan 1, 2022. Here are the highlights:

  • Hundreds of millions of dollars have been exchanged on the stock market by our elected officials in 2021 alone
  • In just equities, Congress bought and sold nearly $290 million throughout the year.
  • In 2021, Congress beat the market!
  • This report shows which sectors were preferred by each party and branch, oftentimes huge trade amounts could be attributed to one or two members.
  • Big legislative events (such as the Infrastructure Bill getting passed by the Senate) were often preceded by politicians trading in the sectors affected. There were tons of unusual trades where politicians made millions of dollars.
  • Congress has 45 days to disclose trades to the public, sometimes they are late, and you can see a list of late disclosures here!
  • Some politicians held securities in the sectors they vocally expressed support for (such as Senators holding cryptocurrencies while drafting crypto regulations).
  • This report highlights many of these and other unusual instances!

Total value ($) of assets traded in 2021

Last year, Congress bought and sold nearly $290 million in stocks (corresponding to 3,500+ transactions by 105 members of Congress), $140 million in options contracts (270+ transactions by 6 members), $124 million in other securities like private equity funds (200+ transactions by 19 members), and $500k in cryptocurrencies (25 transactions by 6 members). 430 members did not take a trade in 2021. Other assets were also bought and sold; you can see total amounts below: 


Compared to 2020, the total amount of options trading exploded in 2021 by over 5 times, meanwhile trading in other notable asset classes decreased. We see that stock trading decreased by nearly $200 million. However, we should remember that former Georgia Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler traded a ton in 2020 and actually account for around $200 million in those stock transactions! When we exclude these two Senators, stock trading in both years were comparable.


Here are some sector data, as well as some unusual trades:

  • Senate Republicans traded misc. stocks more than Senate Democrats, along with finance stocks (ex. banks, SPACs and REITs). They also sold off a bunch of tech stocks in 2021.
  • Notably, Senator Tommy Tuberville bought up to $1.84 million in non-energy mineral stocks. These included copper ($SCCO, $FCX), steel ($X, $CLF), aluminum ($AA) and other infrastructure-related stocks ($EXP, $BHP) before Biden signed his Big Infrastructure Bill. Tuberville later sold up to a third ($660k) of these stocks.
  • Senate Democrats sold off tech stocks like $AAPL, $NVDA and $KLAC in large quantities
  • Even ignoring Rep. DelBene’s $MSFT trades, House Democrats also stuck to tech stocks and out-traded their Republican colleagues in this sector throughout the year
  • House Republicans (read: Rep. Mark Green) preferred industrial service stocks related to oil and gas

To read the full report, please check out here.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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