This morning, Rep. French Hill, who is Chair of the new Subcommittee on Digital Assets, Financial Technology and Inclusion under the House Financial Services Committee, appeared on CNBC in an interview with anchor Joe Kernen.
Highlights include his interest in nurturing bipartisan support for blockchain legislation as well as coming privacy and stablecoin bills. And he also suggested that his new subcommittee will be working with the Agriculture committees in the House and Senate on upcoming bills but did not specify which. See the interview here.
JOE KERNEN: [On crypto] – people go into both corners depending on which side of the aisle they’re on. Congressman, what what does that come from? Why do you need convincing of one side or the other if you want to do this? The Democrats aren’t going to want to do it. I know I can see it coming.
REP. FRENCH HILL: Joe, good morning. It’s good to be with you.
I think there’s an opportunity for bipartisan work here on creating a regulatory framework around digital assets. I think for two reasons. One, you’re right. There are some Democrats that think anything associated with blockchain, or cryptocurrency is just money laundering in a way to have bad behavior.
On the other hand, there’s some Republicans that think the future is decentralized finance and that digital assets are critical.
I think we bring them together because blockchain is an important innovation area. We want that technology to be done here in the United States. We want a regulatory framework that is transparent for developers, investors, and potential consumers as people try to prove a use case.
And finally, we want to make sure that people have a full transparency of that. And so I think that will bring Democrats and Republicans together for both law enforcement reasons, if that’s what their top issue is, or for innovation and financial technology reasons.
JOE KERNEN: Congressman, do you think we need to follow the money? Do we need to see who who gets disintermediated [and] whether they have big offices on K Street and don’t want this to happen? I won’t mention any names, but obviously there’s a lot of industries that that probably are loath to think of a future with decentralized finance.
REP. FRENCH HILL: That’s true. But look, Blockchain right now is an emerging technology. There are industries all over our country that are looking at how can blockchain or distributed ledger be useful in their business to cut down on agency costs. And those don’t always have to be completely disruptive. They might be more gradual as that innovation takes place.
I mean, right now for example, I love the comment the other day where somebody said a a transaction using Bitcoin takes so long my coffee is cold. So this is not, right now, a technology that’s ready for primetime and a real-time payments industry. But, we want to make sure that America is the place for innovation in FinTech and blockchain and distributed ledger technology is part of that FinTech future.
JOE KERNEN: Well, it has real consequences to not have a framework in place. I’m not saying that Sam Bankman-Fried didn’t bring it on himself, but we certainly enabled some of that to be offshore and I’ve been there. It’s going to help. It’s going to help the industry and it’s going to help the technology. If Congress could get its act together. Do you think there should be a Spot Bitcoin fund? That’s not going anywhere now either?
REP. FRENCH HILL: So that’s what we want to explore with this digital assets committee.
I think you’ll see us look at a privacy law and federal privacy law. I think you’ll see us consider a stablecoin bill that we’ve made progress on in the last Congress with work from our leader Patrick McHenry on the committee and then chair Maxine Waters.
I think you’ll see us explore what are the ramifications for the securities market; and work with the Agriculture Committee in the House and Senate on the commodity aspect of it, trading the coins and how should exchanges be overseen. All that’s on the table and all that’s going to be a priority for this year.
JOE KERNEN: You think it’s going to be this year. And you think it can be bipartisan when it’s all said and done – that would take… I don’t know, we’re not there right now.
REP. FRENCH HILL: Hey, I specialize in bipartisan. This is an area that’s important for our country. We need this regulatory framework and we need to come together to have it or we’re going to have continued chaos that we saw last year with a spring of bankruptcies across the industry. That’s not helpful to developers in the industry, to innovation, and certainly not to investors and consumers.
JOE KERNEN: You can’t really tell the SEC what to do, can you? As Gary Gensler is there, do you see any progress really being made?
REP. FRENCH HILL: Well, Chair Gensler says he was the cop on the beat last year. Gary Gensler also says that he’s an expert in this area because he taught it in graduate school – blockchain and distributed ledger technology. So we’ll invite him up to Congress to tell us what he knows, and what he recommends in this area and what he was doing last year when we had so many challenges for our investors and our consumers.
JOE KERNEN: Overall, what does the Speaker McCarthy-led House expect to accomplish in the next few years here? I love all these bills you guys are are involved with that have no chance of ever becoming law. And you guys take it seriously and now y’all kill all the trees, all this papers comes out. There’s all these things that are done and and people at home are like, “Why are they doing all these?” It’s nice to make a statement. But you know, it’d be nice to actually have something that has a chance of becoming actual legislation. Is there anything on the table right now?
REP. FRENCH HILL: Well, Joe, I think we want to keep our commitment to America. And some of that, you’re right, are posturing bills that talk about what we would do if we had the House, the Senate and the Presidency and through the 2024 elections. That’s a goal, that’s aspirational, but we also want to get things done.
And we’re going to work with our friends in the Senate to send legislation to Joe Biden that – for example, we’re trying to find consensus on how do we reach consensus on the immigration laws securing the border. That’s a prime issue. It’s a top of mind issue for everybody.
We have an agriculture opportunity to do a reauthorization of the farm bill this year. We’ll have a national defense authorization bill and most importantly, we’ll try to find consensus around spending for 2024 and try to go back to a pre-pandemic approach where both sides, Democrats and Republicans, thought large deficits were bad. We’ve lost that, we need to get back to it and we need to try to move towards a more conservative approach to budgeting. [
JOE KERNEN: [Are you in favor of closing] down the government, should that be a potential tool? Are you in that camp? There are some I think in the House that are in that camp. You don’t think that is a viable?
REP. FRENCH HILL: No.
I don’t think that’s always viable. But over the past 40 years, when you see a debt ceiling increase, about four out of 10 times it’s produced a spending control plan and a better approach to spending. So, we do want to use that and talk to Joe Biden about what we can do together to go back to that pre pandemic spending.