With the voice vote of the House Agriculture markup last Thursday, at first glance, it’s hard to quickly identify which Members were “for ” or “against” the digital asset market structure bill known as “Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century Act.”
Chair Glenn “GT” Thompson’s (R, PA) decision – no doubt in consultation with Ranking Member David Scott (D, SC) – to use the voice vote was likely driven by the Republican’s clear majority which would lead to unquestioned passage.
But, unlike House Financial Services, where roll call votes were requested by the Republican majority, the need to maintain comity among members could have been paramount for the House Ag Committee. The Committee’s remit includes the critical Farm Bill and now has expanded to the complex, and potentially divisive, digital assets market structure framework.
Therefore, “Let’s not stir the pot more than necessary.”
breaking it down
But, what is there was a roll call vote? Let’s stir the pot.
There are 29 Republicans and 25 Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee.
It is assumed nearly all Republicans support the legislation since this digital assets market structure bill is a key part of the Majority Republican’s stated agenda in the 118th Congress.
That said, one Republican voiced clear opposition to the legislation at the markup: Rep. John Duarte (R, CA). Even this one vote speaks to the mystery of how the bill or any digital assets bill will shake out – even with Republicans – once it hits the House floor for a vote.
House Ag Dems – no
In review, six (6) Democrats who spoke appeared to be against the “Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century Act” beginning with the House Ag Committee’s Ranking Member David Scott (SC).
Rep. Alma Adams (NC), Rep. Jonathan Jackson (IL), Rep. Greg Casar (TX), Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA) and Rep. Andrea Salinas (OR) also gave indications of being a “no. ”
Twelve (12) Democratic members of the House Agriculture Committee did not speak or said very little: Reps. Jim McGovern (MA), Abigail Spanberger (VA), Jahana Hayes (CT), Shontel Brown (OH), Sharice Davids (KS), Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA), Don Davis (NC), Jill Tokuda (HI), Eric Sorensen (IL), Gabe Vasquez (NM), Chellie Pingree (ME) and Sanford Bishop (GA).
We’ll assume (by following Democratic leadership) all quiet Democrats would have voted in a roll call vote with the Ranking Member which brings the “no” Democrat vote total to 18.
House Ag Dems – yes
Four (4) Democrats appeared to be ready to vote “yes” on the digital asset market structure bill with some caveats including Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D, MI) (see more on Rep. Slotkin below).
Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D, CA), Ranking Member on the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodity Markets, Digital Assets, and Rural Development, appeared to be a “yes” on the digital assets market structure legislation but wanted additional work to be done.
Nevertheless, she said, “Whether it’s through an app on their phones, a kiosk at a convenience store or a social media thread, touting the opportunities of cryptocurrency consumers are putting their money every day into a system that they may not realize is unregulated, and therefore they may not realize the risk they enter into with every single transaction. We have heard resoundingly at many meetings and through hearings that there’s a gap in our oversight of the digital assets cash market, and that the status quo is currently unacceptable. I believe we must act to [prevent more] FTX-like disasters.” Read her press release.
Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D, TX) maintained some skepticism of the proposed legislation but was by far the most active Democrat during Thursday’s House Ag markup. Given her engagement, she seemed like a “Yes.”
Early in the hearing, Rep. Crockett offered her perspective: “So to be clear, I want Congress to pass a bipartisan robust framework that will enable innovation protect consumers and ensure the soundness of a market. But despite the commendable work that has gone into this current bill. I think I speak for many of us when I say the current text is not yet meet the standard we need set, particularly for consumer protection.”
But, Rep. Crockett offered at least three amendments – two of which were agreed to by Republicans and the other withdrawn after agreement by Chair Thompson to work with Rep. Crockett. One of the accepted amendments looked to beef up government oversight of a self-regulatory organization. See Rep. Crockett’s press release on one of them.
Rep. Darren Soto (D, FL), a well-known supporter over the years of digital asset legislation in partnership with Rep. Warren Davidson (R, OH) and current Majority Leader Tom Emmer (R, MN), expressed support for the bill at the House Ag markup: “I think the bill today is a good starting point to that debate. My main concern initially was with the CFTC needs the resources for these greater responsibilities not so I was pleased to see $120 million over five years Be can be included that was consistent with at least the minimum amounts discussed by the CFTC.”
House Ag Dems – Slotkin
Back to Rep. Slotkin… It should be noted that in an effort to address the perception of members trading on inside information related to cryptocurrency, Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D, MI) separately re-introduced the “Cryptocurrency Accountability Act” in the House on the same day as the markup. Her press release explains the bill’s particulars such as: “Require disclosure of any cryptocurrency holdings or transactions by Members, their spouses, or their dependents above $1,000 — in line with the current House and Senate ethics guidelines…” See H.R. 5050 on Congress.gov. And, read the release.
In a revealing 5-minutes of discussion during the markup, the Congresswoman spoke at length on crypto’s facets – mostly its pitfalls. But, she concluded with what sounded like support for the digital asset market structure bill: “I think where I come down, is that it’s hard to beat something with nothing. And while this, I acknowledge, is the beginning of a story, not the end of the story, we have to get this story started because the public is asking us as a legislative body to do, and provide oversight.” Hear Rep. Slotkin speak at the House Ag hearing.
It was reported in February by Bloomberg that Rep. Slotkin is expected to run for the seat being vacated by Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, at the end of her term.
House Ag Dems – Maybe
We’ll call three (3) Democrats “maybe’s.”
Both Rep. Angie Craig (D, MN) and Rep. Nikki Budzinski (D, IL) offered amendments that were either accepted by Republicans or agreement was reached on working further on certain issues (such as Budzinski) in a bipartisan fashion.
Rep. Jim Costa (D, CA) expressed skepticism of the current bill but stayed glass-half-full saying in his opening statement: “I hope to see for most of the amendments before is and I hoped to vote on final passage I reserve my judgment on what the final work product will be like when that happens. I don’t believe that the final work product is here today.”
From here, with plenty of inference, the final vote looked to be:
35-19 in favor of passage if the maybe’s turned to “yes”.
Or, 32-22 if the maybe’s chose “no”.
- 28 Republicans “for”
- 1 Republican “against”
- 4 Democrats “for”
- 18 Democrats “against”
- 3 Democrats “maybe” – or it’s hard to tell