In legislative parlance, a poison pill amendment is one intended not to improve a bill but to kill it. A classic example is one that loads the bill up with contentious additional matters, so as to provoke a defeat of the bill by those who support the original bill's goals but have legitimate (or otherwise) objections to the extraneous provisions. The poison pill may also extend the bill's original scope, so as to take "a good idea too far."
Which is precisely what Cantor is doing to the STOCK Act. Politico reports that:
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Tuesday the Senate’s version of the STOCK Act didn’t go far enough and that he’ll push through a stricter version in the House if the Senate doesn’t “strengthen” the bill.
Bull shit. Cantor tried to kill the bill in committee:
Cantor, who controls legislation that comes onto the House floor, has come under Democratic accusations that he was holding up progress on the lower chamber’s version of the STOCK Act after he privately pressured a committee chairman to delay a mark-up on the bill.
Having failed in that effort, he's now trying to extend the STOCK Act "so it includes land deals and other types of transactions and not just stock trades." Classic taking a good idea too far. The problem is insider trading in stocks, not insider trading in land deals. Cantor obviously hopes that incuding a vast array of economic activity within the bill, exposing members of Congress to disclosure obligations and other restrictions, as well as increasing their liability exposure, will make the bill sufficiently unpopular so as to prevent its passage.
Eric Cantor's going to try killing the STOCK Act by taking a good idea too far. We've got to find a way to stop him. We've got to find a way to make him #PassThe SenateSTOCKAct. Tweeting that message to him at @GOPLeader's a start.
As for me, as I've noted before, in my day job as a corporate law professor, I've written the history of insider trading law, and will continue to do so for the next 20 years or so (God willing), I intend to make damn sure that if Eric Cantor manages to kill the STOCK Act that he will go down in history as the man who defended Congress' right to commit insider trading with impunity.