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Opinion 3 more items Democrats should get done before the midterms

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) holds a news conference after the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act on Aug. 7. (Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

There have been few summers in modern history in which Congress has done as much as it has this year. From passage of expanded health care for sick veterans to the gun-safety bill to the Inflation Reduction Act, Democrats have been able to muscle through the most consequential series of legislation since the Affordable Care Act.

But not everything is done. Lawmakers won’t have much time when they return from recess in September before they have to leave again for the remainder of the election season. But Democrats would be wise to complete action on three items that are smart policy and smart politics.

First, a ban on stock trading by members and spouses seems like a no-brainer. Many voters are surprised and appalled when they find out there is not already such a law in place.

A House bill, sponsored by Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Chip Roy (R-Tex.), and a companion bill in the Senate, sponsored by Sens. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), have been introduced, but have not yet received floor votes. Passing such a measure would provide an additional boost to incumbent Democrats and show they are responsive to constituents’ concerns about conflicts of interest and corruption. Indeed, it has become a campaign issue in some races. Democrats should help themselves by passing it quickly — and not settle for a watered-down version that would exempt spouses.

Second, the Senate should complete work on the Electoral Count Act reform bill. With some key changes, the bipartisan proposal can go a long way toward heading off future coups. Subsequent events have underscored the flaws in the existing bill. With Republicans nominating election deniers for governor in Michigan, Arizona and Pennsylvania, the proposal deeming a governor’s certification of electors “conclusive” is dangerous in the extreme.

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Third, Democrats should put to a floor vote the proposed tech antitrust bill. CNBC reports: “The most promising tech antitrust bill to move through Congress won’t get a vote before the summer recess, according to its lead sponsor, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. Klobuchar said on Saturday she talked with Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., last week about having a vote on the American Innovation and Choice Online Act in the fall.”

Co-sponsored by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), the bill would prohibit tech platforms from favoring their own products over rivals. The proposal has met resistance from the tech industry, which argues that the bill could have unintended consequences for online speech and content moderation. But as The New York Times reports, “four Democratic senators in June called for amending the bill to ensure it was not misinterpreted.”

This might be the last opportunity to make progress on an issue on which lawmakers have grandstanded for years but never seriously addressed. At a time of high inflation, it makes sense to respond to consumers’ complaints that the tech behemoths are limiting choice and hindering price competition. And if Republicans oppose it, Democrats can defend it on the campaign trail alongside other cost-saving measures that Republicans have opposed, such as the $35 monthly cap on insulin.

Democrats have had a remarkably productive summer. With a few finishing touches in the fall, they could go into the midterms with a head of steam. Now is no time to rest on their laurels.

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