Senator Stabenow ‘Back To Crypto Work’ In Senate Agriculture; Crypto PAC Pours On Funds

Chair Stabenow is back

Politico’s Meredith Lee Hill reports that Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow (MI), a key pro-crypto Democrat in the Senate, is ready to deal with crypto issues again after concluding some finer points of the amorphous Farm bill.

Ms. Hill tweeted yesterday on X that Stabenow “confirms she’s back to crypto work amid an impasse in farm bill talks Stabenow, a member of Dem [leadership], said there’s ‘interest’ in both chambers to address crypto this yr + she’s ‘seeing where we can get agreement.'” Read more in Politico (subscription).

This appears to be an opportunity for the House’s digital asset market structure bill to find a “safe space” in what has been a generally reluctant, Democrat-controlled Senate.

It doesn’t seem farfetched that Senate Ag Ranking Member John Boozman (R, AR) is also supportive of crypto legislation today given his past support for Digital Commodity Consumer Protection Act (DCCPA).

what you should know: All work stopped on crypto and DCCPA in Senate Agriculture when FTX imploded in November 2022. There was a post-mortem hearing in December 2022 with former Stabenow counsel and CFTC Chair Rostin Behnam -and that was it.

(Let alone all the Democrats running for cover due to FTX CEO Sam Bankman Fried’s “radioactive” campaign donations.)

Unlike Senate Banking where Chair Sherrod Brown (D, OH) is a roadblock to digital assets legislation for Senators like Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R, WY), Senate Ag with Chair Stabenow’s renewed interest may breath life into Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D, NY) digital asset efforts. Gilllibrand sits on Senate Ag, and is co-sponsoring the Responsible Financial Innovation Act [S.2281] with Sen. Lummis.

Stabenow announced her retirement from the Senate in January 2023. She’ll hold her current seat until this January 2025.

California Senate race

The California Senate campaign of Rep. Katie Porter (D,) – who is currently behind Rep. Adam Schiff (D) and neck and neck with Steve Garvey (R) according to polls – continues to attract the attention of Fairshake PAC, a fund with a pro-crypto platform. Originally covered by the New York Times two weeks ago, CoinDesk speaks to Fairshake spokesman Josh Vlasto who explains why his PAC is working against Porter, saying in part, “We are making sure the 8 million crypto owners in California – who are disproportionately young voters who support Democrats – know about her hostility toward the technology and how that would hurt American jobs.” Read more.

more tips:

crypto audit rule

The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) has been concerned that member firms have been misrepresenting their crypto audit status especially with regard to their reserves. On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the PCAOB board voted to bar “registered firms and their staff from making false or misleading statements about the registration status or what the registration signifies. There are no existing rules clearly prohibiting this.” Read more.

today’s markup

House Financial Services (HFS) will hold a markup today for 12 bills across banking, money laundering, housing and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

See the hearing page including livestream link.

Of interest to anti- and pro-crypto forces will be House Joint Resolution 109 (PDF) introduced by Rep. Mike Flood (R, NE) and Rep. Wiley Nickel (D, NC). The resolution looks to rescind Staff Accounting Bulletin (SAB 121), which has prevented banks from custody-ing crypto.

A House floor vote and approval in the Democrat-controlled Senate –  where Senator Cynthia Lummis (R, WY) sponsors the resolution (referred to Senate Banking on 2/1) – will still be ahead for H.J.R. 109 pending approval in the HFS markup.

what you should know: The big question today: how will HFS Democrats vote? We already know Rep. Ritchie Torres (D, NY) will vote “yes.”

more tips:

    • H.J.Res.109 – “Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Securities and Exchange Commission relating to ‘Staff Accounting Bulletin No. 121’.” –

IRS adds crypto experts

On Tuesday, the Internal Revenue Service announced the hiring of two industry “experts to help the agency’s efforts in the cryptocurrency and other digital assets arena.”

Sulolit “Raj” Mukherjee, formerly of ConsenSys and Binance, and Seth Wilks, formerly of TaxBit, join the agency as executive advisors.

“This is a complex and evolving sector that has major tax administration implications,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel in a press release. “It’s important we get this right for taxpayers and the nation. Pulling in expertise from the private sector to work with the IRS team is critical to successfully building the agency’s efforts involving digital assets and helping us do it in a way that works well for everyone.” Read the release.

what you should know: Will Mukherjee and Wilks have any input on the digital asset tax proposal put forth by Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service last August? Surely, the industry hopes so.  Conversely, Rep. Brad Sherman (D, CA) head may be spinning given his stated belief that crypto holders are tax scofflaws.

hear ye, hear ye

Next Wednesday, Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chair Rostin Behnam (D) will appear in front of the House Agriculture Committee and Chair Glenn “GT” Thompson (R, PA) for an oversight hearing. Among the topics to be discussed could be the need for regulation of crypto markets. In past hearings, Chair Behnam has never hesitated to express his interest in receiving from Congress jurisdiction over the vast crypto commodity cash markets. The CFTC already has jurisdiction over crypto-related derivatives. Does the rocketing price of Bitcoin and success of today’s Bitcoin ETFs give urgency to Behnam’s demands? The $2.7 billion payment to the CFTC coming out of the enforcement action against Binance will likely warm the hearts of lawmakers. Read the hearing notice.

what you should know: In a markup last July, House Ag approved by voice vote the digital asset market structure bill co-authored by the House Financial Services which would grant some of Behnam’s wishes. The bill awaits a House floor vote. Whether the bill would get past the Democrat Majority in the Senate led by Senate Banking Chair Sherrod Brown (D, OH) and a signature from the White House is entirely another matter.

still more tips

Crypto industry fights back against government crackdown – Fox Business 

Bitcoin price whipsaws around $60,000 while ETFs see record volumes: ‘This is officially a craze’ – The Block

Sam Bankman-Fried seeks a lenient sentence – The New York Times

Superintendent Adrienne Harris Secures Commitment from Gemini Trust Company to Return at Least $1.1 Billion to Earn Program Customers –

Coinbase Made an Arbitration Case to the U.S. Supreme Court –Again – CoinDesk