Majority Whip Tom Emmer Discusses The State Of Digital Assets In Congress Today

Majority Whip Tom Emmer

With a holiday recess approaching in the U.S. House of Representatives, Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R, MN) is still making the most of the 2023 Congressional calendar while preparing for next year.

He knows the drill.

Emmer, who has been a key advocate for digital assets legislation, first joined Congress in 2015 and served as Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee in the 116th Congress and 117th Congress. He currently sits on the House Financial Services Committee.

Digital assets legislation he has sponsored in the current Congress includes Blockchain Regulatory Certainty Act [H.R. 1747], CBDC Anti-Surveillance State Act [H.R. 5403] and Securities Clarity Act [H.R. 3572].

Whip Emmer sat down with blockchain tipsheet at the Capitol on Tuesday to discuss the state of digital assets including:

    • 2023 digital asset highlights
    • Member education on digital assets
    • Congressional staff and legislation
    • Looking ahead
    • Crypto, AML and terrorist financing legislation
    • CBDCs
    • National security

The interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

What are your highlights for 2023 when it comes to digital assets?

Majority Whip Emmer: I had high hopes coming into the 118th Congress because of our new [House Financial Services] Chairman. Patrick McHenry (R, NC) is someone who understands the digital asset space.

Patrick and I have been close since I came to Congress -he was assigned to me as my mentor when I got here… I was excited because I know that this was a passion of his. I was also excited because even though we’ve had a fight it seems with the White House under the last Administration and now under this Administration, and with some certain Senators – and some in the House but not quite as much. Republicans and Democrats in the House are learning very quickly about the space.

So, highlights of this year are watching Republicans and Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee literally collaborate on digital assets issues. We may not see it in the actual committee votes, but it’s happening with French Hill (R, AR), with Patrick McHenry, Richie Torres (D, NY) and Josh Gottheimer (D, NJ), Jim Himes (D, CT) – Himes has been very helpful – and Greg Meeks (D, NY). You could keep going on.

We passed a CBDC bill out of committee to outlaw central bank digital currencies, which is something that I’m adamant about. We’ve gotten a lot of support for it. And then Patrick McHenry managed to set us up for market structure and, potentially, stablecoin legislation. And there could be others on the way, but that’s just this year.

For the first time since I arrived in Congress eight years ago, we have some very consequential things in the space that are moving forward. Continue reading “Majority Whip Tom Emmer Discusses The State Of Digital Assets In Congress Today”

Rep. Krishnamoorthi Makes Case for ‘Seat at the Table’ of Crypto Legislation

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D, IL), who represents Illinois’ 8th Congressional District – a large part of the northwest suburbs of Chicago, asked on August 30 that key financial regulators and digital asset exchanges turn around by Monday, September 12, what they are doing to prevent fraud in the crypto markets.

Another letter from Congress, another deadline unfulfilled?

What it means

Federal agencies may need to prioritize their responses given the expected delivery of reports pertaining to the President’s Executive Order on blockchain technology and cryptocurrency this coming week. For executives at the exchanges, it could be an opportunity to connect with a pro-blockchain industry congressman. Krishnamoorthi is a member of the bipartisan Congressional Blockchain Caucus.

Also, with fall elections ahead and a potential for House committee chairmanships flipping from Democrat to Republican, this may be an effort by Krishnamoorthi to use his perch as Chair of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy while he’s got it.

Last but not least, the timing of the release – the week before Labor Day Weekend – helped amplify coverage during a notoriously slow news week and perhaps reinforced the congressman’s goal of having a “seat at the table” in future distributed ledger technology regulation discussions.

Continue reading “Rep. Krishnamoorthi Makes Case for ‘Seat at the Table’ of Crypto Legislation”

Congress Reaches Out To Crypto Throngs at Consensus 2022

Congress at Consensus 2022

There may have never been a bigger moment in the confluence of blockchain technology and U.S. federal government policymaking as Congress came to the crypto throngs last Friday for a “Town Hall” at Consensus 2022 in Austin, Texas.

Seated from left to right were Senators Pat Toomey (R, PA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D, NY), Cynthia Lummis (R, WY) and Congressman Patrick McHenry (R, NYC) who acted as a team and appeared to be keenly interested in creating a relationship with the thousands in attendance. CoinDesk’s Jesse Hamilton moderated.

The new Lummis/Gillibrand “Responsible Financial Innovation Act” was the calling card in Austin, and clearly the Congressional members knew that a key constituency for helping create, refine and pass effective blockchain-related legislation in the years to come was seated before them. The congressional leaders also seemed to understand the audience’s skepticism about Congress and its ability to pass any helpful legislation quickly.

Senator Toomey, whose term ends this coming January, didn’t hesitate to stoke the fires of expediency at the outset by suggesting that stablecoin legislation – such as his – could be passed this year.

Concurring with the senator from Pennsylvania, Congressman McHenry said (lightly edited for clarity):

“The reason why we will be able to move on stablecoins is because there’s alignment around the essentials of asset-backed stablecoins. Algos (algorithmic stablecoins) are a different deal. But, asset-backed stablecoins – that regime is a very reasonable one for us to come to terms with (…). We’re about 50% aligned on the most extreme pieces of legislation here. And that’s pretty darn good for Washington. So then we can get into the finer points of some questions like: ‘Who’s the regulator?’ which are more preference issues than ideologies driving those conversations, but the need is there. And there is a understanding among Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate on the basic things we need to do on stablecoins. We have to [build definitions on stablecoins and address] definitional issues around digital assets and the regulatory framework of the exchanges that they are on.”

McHenry added that the new Lummis/Gillibrand bill had moved the conversation forward.

Continue reading “Congress Reaches Out To Crypto Throngs at Consensus 2022”

More Stablecoin Legislation: Senator Toomey Proposes The Stablecoin Trust Act

Senator Toomey

In the second bill associated with stablecoins in a week from Republicans, Senator Pat Toomey (R., PA), Ranking Member on the Senate Banking Committee,  announced a draft (PDF) of his new legislation today titled, “Stablecoin Transparency of Reserves and Uniform Safe Transactions Act of 2022,” or more succinctly, “The Stablecoin Trust Act of 2022.”

Sen. Toomey, who sits on the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, explained the what the new legislation does in a press release:

Authorizes three different options to issue payment stablecoins:

    1. Establishes a new federal license designed specifically for stablecoin issuers;
    2. Preserves the state-registered money transmitter status for most existing stablecoin issuers; and
    3. Clarifies that insured depository institutions are permitted to issue stablecoins.

Protects consumers by subjecting all payment stablecoin issuers—regardless of whether they are a state money transmitter or receiving a new federal license—to standardized requirements, including:

      1. Disclosures regarding the reserve assets backing the stablecoin;
      2. Clear redemption policies; and
      3. Subjecting them to routine audits by registered public accounting firms.

Provides much-needed clarity that, at a minimum, stablecoins that do not offer interest are not securities.

Provides a clear regulatory framework for payment stablecoins and rejects the Securities and Exchange Commission’s approach of regulating through enforcement actions.

Applies privacy protections to transactions involving stablecoins and other virtual currencies.

Continue reading “More Stablecoin Legislation: Senator Toomey Proposes The Stablecoin Trust Act”