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Obama signs insider trading ban into law

In what has become a rare scene in Washington, a group of bipartisan lawmakers joined President Barack Obama today at the White House for his signing of the Stop on Congressional Knowledge Act.

“The powerful shouldn’t get to create one set of rules for themselves and one set of rules for everyone else," Obama said at the signing.

Jason Reed / Reuters

President Obama signs the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act on April 4.. The act ensures that members of Congress are subject to the same insider trading laws as other Americans.

The legislation, referred to as the STOCK Act is designed to prohibit members of Congress, their families and staff from using any information gleaned while working on the Hill to execute stock transactions.

"The President's signing of the bipartisan STOCK Act is an important step toward ensuring that Members of Congress and federal officials don't profit from insider information and abide by the same rules as everyone else,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. “Rather than letting our differences divide us, as so often happens in Washington, this bipartisan bill shows that we can come together and deliver results for the American people."

President Obama has publicly pushed for the measure since his State of the Union address on January 24, 2012. "Send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of Congress; I will sign it tomorrow."

Eight members of Congress from both parties attended the signing, but the presence of Republican Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown  was maybe the most politically significant.

Brown, a Republican who faces a tough re-election battle against Democrat Elizabeth Warren, the president's former consumer financial protection czar, sent out a release touting his appearance at today's signing, and another bill signing tomorrow -- an unusual boast for a Republican to make.

Massachusetts Democrats countered by releasing a video (http://youtu.be/hOsM9k0jPV4) featuring clips of all the instances in which Brown voiced support for Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor whose staff overlapped significantly with Brown's own campaign staff in 2010.

The STOCK Act moved swiftly through Congress after public reaction to a "60 Minutes" segment questioning whether lawmakers including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, made investments based on their knowledge of legislative activity.

While the lawmakers named in the piece disputed any wrongdoing, Congress reacted quickly to prevent the future appearance of questionable ethical practices. The STOCK Act was approved in the House by a vote of 417 to 2, with the Senate voting 93 – 2 in favor.

Some senators weren’t too pleased with the changes the House made in their version, but still supported the measure. The House GOP's version of the bill strengthened the restrictions and reporting requirements for the executive branch. It also took out an amendment that was included in the Senate bill that tightened restrictions on people who take information from Capitol Hill and sell it to financial institutions.

Michael O'Brien contributed to this story.