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At odds over many things, U.S. lawmakers AOC and Ted Cruz agree on Robinhood probe

(Leads with Democrats and Republicans in agreement)

WASHINGTON, Jan 28 (Reuters) - At odds over most issues, Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Republican Ted Cruz agreed on Thursday that Congress needed more information about online trading platform Robinhood Markets Inc’s decision to restrict retail trading in shares of GameStop and other stocks that have experienced dramatic gains this week attributed to social media-driven trading.

Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, tweeted the restriction was “unacceptable,” adding Congress needed to know more about Robinhood’s decision “to block retail investors from purchasing stock while hedge funds are freely able to trade the stock as they see fit.”

Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican, took to Twitter retweeting Ocasio-Cortez with rare words of agreement, writing “Fully agree.”

While welcoming the chance to work across party lines on the issue, Ocasio-Cortez had harsh words in response.

She tweeted she was “happy to work with Republicans on this issue where there’s common ground, but you almost had me murdered 3 weeks ago so you can sit this one out,” a reference to suggestions that Cruz helped foment the Jan. 6 Capitol violence by Trump supporters.

Cruz’s office did not immediately respond to Ocasio-Cortez’s second tweet.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk also backed Ocasio-Cortez’s criticism on Twitter responding “absolutely” to her criticism of Robinhood.

A Robinhood spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawmakers’ criticism.

Robinhood and online brokerage Interactive Brokers restricted trading in several social media-driven stocks that had soared this week. The issue pits hedge funds and other short sellers against retail buyers, many motivated by commentary on sites such as Reddit.

Republican Senator Mike Lee also joined the critics as did U.S. Representative Ro Khanna, a Democrat.

Khanna said in a statement “while retail trading in some cases, like on Robinhood, blocked the purchasing of GameStop, hedge funds were still allowed to trade the stock. We need more regulation and equality in the markets.”

He added: “We’re done letting hedge fund billionaires treat the stock market like their personal playground, then taking their ball home as soon as they lose.”

U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat, called the restriction “beyond absurd.”

Tlaib urged on Twitter that Congress “have a hearing on Robinhood’s market manipulation. They’re blocking the ability to trade to protect Wall St. hedge funds, stealing millions of dollars from their users to protect people who’ve used the stock market as a casino for decades.”

Ocasio-Cortez said the House Financial Services Committee investigation should not be limited to Robinhood but “should examine any retail services freezing stock purchases in the course of potential investigations - especially those allowing sales, but freezing purchases.”

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Howard Goller

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