Interview: Senator Cynthia Lummis Is Optimistic About Digital Assets In Congress This Year

Senator Cynthia Lummis

As Congress picks up speed this month in spite of election year hurdles, Senator Cynthia Lummis (R, WY) has been busy thinking about – and working on – next steps for digital assets legislation among the many initiatives and responsibilities she and her team oversee.

Her “Lummis-Gillibrand Responsible Financial Innovation Act” [S.2281] has been been a key, proposed framework for digital assets in the Senate and Congress.

The bill, first introduced in the 117th Congress, and updated for the 118th, is a comprehensive, digital assets regulatory framework co-sponsored by New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “Lummis-Gillibrand,” as it is known, appears to have weathered the buffeting winds of FTX, a bear market, Congressional skepticism and the seemingly recalcitrant Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – to name a few.

Senator Lummis sat down with blockchain tipsheet at the Capitol today to discuss all things digital assets and Congress including:

    • The Bitcoin ETF watershed moment
    • State of digital assets legislation today
    • Lummis-Gillibrand and funding regulation with “wash sale” rule
    • Stablecoin bill update
    • Reflections on the NDAA digital assets AML amendment
    • Binance, Tether and illicit finance
    • SAB 121 and next steps

The interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

blockchain tipsheet: Is the approval of Bitcoin spot market ETF’s a watershed moment for digital assets?

Senator Cynthia Lummis: I think it’s important because it gives consumers who are not ready to dive in with both feet – who are not ready to self-custody – exposure to Bitcoin through an exchange-traded fund, which is a very well known vehicle to get exposure to valuable assets.

It’s important for consumer assurance that this is an asset worth holding in a diverse asset allocation and that now they can have exposure to it without having to be an expert. [It also] helps integrate Bitcoin into the traditional asset management world. So, I do think it’s a watershed moment. Continue reading “Interview: Senator Cynthia Lummis Is Optimistic About Digital Assets In Congress This Year”

Senators Lummis and Gillibrand Announce Responsible Financial Innovation Act Re-Introduction

Responsible Financial Innovation Act of 2023

At the Milken Institute’s The Future of Digital Assets Symposium yesterday, Senator Cynthia Lummis (R, WY) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D, NY) made their first appearance together in the new Congress touting the re-introduction of their digital assets regulation bill, the Responsible Financial Innovation Act (RFIA), in mid-April.

Below is an edited transcript of the interview conducted on-stage by Michael Piwowar, Executive Vice President at the Milken Institute.

On the re-introduction of the Responsible Financial Innovation Act in the 118th Congress:

SENATOR LUMMIS: We’re looking at mid-April to reintroduce the bill. And the changes that we’re making would be a slimmed down, better looking [version] adjusting some of the definitions. We’ve been working with the SEC staff to address some of their concerns that there might be some unintended consequences to some of the definitions, but we’ve been meeting with them and taking care of that.

SENATOR GILLIBRAND: We’re also trying to address some of the concerns that we heard through regulators and the industry to clarify different areas. So we’re going to have an ambition to try to build out some of the regulatory framework that we left for studies in the first version.

It might also be a more thorough bill than the first version because the first version was just an introduction of what a baseline framework could look like in the industry, and how you would assess what are digital securities, what are digital commodities, and how you would regulate stablecoins. We had a lot of studies [,too].

Now, we’re going to actually try to do a deep dive on stablecoin regulations. We’re going to refine a lot about digital securities based on conversations we had with Chairman Gensler and the SEC staff. And we’re also going to even broaden out DeFi because [with] DeFi we punted it to the regulators in our first draft. Because of the climate we’re in right now, we think it would be better for us to give our best assessment of what that regulatory framework might look like, as opposed to waiting on regulators since regulators seem to have their own unique opinions. And there doesn’t seem to be any certainty with given regulators. So we thought it’d be better to maybe do our own parameters.

And so those are some of the things we’re working on now. The bill is going to be stronger. It’s also going to address some of the things that happened with FTX. So that it’s very clear if [FTX] was registered as a US company, what it would have had to do and why consumers would not have been so harmed. Continue reading “Senators Lummis and Gillibrand Announce Responsible Financial Innovation Act Re-Introduction”

Predictions for 2023 Blockchain Legislation in the U.S. Congress

Predictions for the blockchain industry

Washington D.C.’s population is inflating again with the commencement of the 118th Congress and there’s no better time to prognosticate on the blockchain legislation possibilities in 2023.

With the humiliation wrought by Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) and FTX burned into the Congressional record (1, 2, 3) in 2022, action would appear imminent one way or another.

Let’s predict…


The Digital Commodity Consumer Protection Act (DCCPA) from Senate Agriculture Chairwoman and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D, MI) and Ranking Member and Senator John Boozman (R, AR) was in the pole position for new crypto law in the U.S. But with FTX founder and CEO Sam-Bankman Fried’s fingerprints all over this legislation through his congressional collaboration last year, DCCPA looks radioactive.

So, in spite of the theatrics of a December Senate Agriculture hearing where everyone including Commodity Futures Tradiing Commission Chair Rostin Behnam tried to distance themselves from FTX while still professing support for DCCPA, there’s no way forward for the bill.

Enter a re-purposing of DCCPA that will continue to address jurisdiction of the Bitcoin and Ether cash markets by the CFTC.  But, even this bill will be met with skepticism given the SBF connection and his mugshot continuing to clog the mainstream and social media airwaves.

RFIA boost

Continue reading “Predictions for 2023 Blockchain Legislation in the U.S. Congress”

Senate Ag Committee Attempts To Resuscitate DCCPA, Distance From FTX

Senate Ag hearing

With the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX not even a month old, the first FTX hearing commenced on Capitol Hill with the Senate Agriculture Committee questioning Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chair Rostin Behnam yesterday in Washington D.C.

Overall, the hearing seemed to be a theater of positioning by Senate Ag intended to address…

    • Urgency – Senate Ag and the CFTC appeared to believe the Digital Commodity Consumer Protection Act (DCCPA) has more urgency than ever in light of the FTX collapse.
    • Overcoming the conflict of interest – Senate Ag and the CFTC endeavored to distance themselves from FTX and its founder Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF). The unspoken message is that FTX did not influence the creation of the DCCPA. On that note – and grasping for transparency, for example – CFTC Chair Behnam’s calendar in the past year was under the microscope which included 10 FTX meetings largely related to its subsidiary LedgerX and its DCO application – not DCCPA.
    • Refinement– Chair Rostin Behnam and Committee members urged that learnings from FTX’s implosion be incorporated into the new bill. In some ways, the refinement appears to be finding a way to bring companies like FTX onshore, which would have required the company to adhere to regulations that would have prevented the implosion in the first place.
    • Pause – In spite of the urgency, the need for refinement requires pause. DCCPA won’t be heading for a vote on the Committee or Senate floor until next year at the earliest. Chair Behnam advocated as much.

Hearing context

On its face, D.C. appears to be in soul-searching mode as it gropes for answers on how the FTX collapse occurred even though the company was based in the Bahamas. The krux of the concern, though, stems from the humiliation endured by unsuspecting lawmakers who had been courted and cajoled by FTX founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried.

Continue reading “Senate Ag Committee Attempts To Resuscitate DCCPA, Distance From FTX”

FTX Implosion May Be The Catalyst for Fast-Tracking Legislation

Yesterday, Binance, the largest global cryptocurrency exchange, acquired FTX’s global exchange after its founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried appeared to have knowingly parked unbacked, illiquid assets on a sister company’s balance sheet – the stuff regulators warn about – which brought FTX to near-insolvency.

As a result, Bankman-Fried did the only thing he could which was to sell FTX to his competitor.

It’s not a good look for crypto and its legislative champions. On the other hand, if you’re rooting for new regulation, this may be what forces Congress’ hand. Guardrails are needed ASAP if consumers are going to be protected and the industry is going to flourish.

The damage

Is the impact from this bigger than the Terra Luna stablecoin debacle in the Spring? Probably.

First, let’s review the “soft” impact…

Sam Bankman-Fried was arguably the most popular industry figure in Washington D.C., appearing multiple times in front of Congressional committees in spite of his global company’s Bahamian address. Now, his name and reputation have taken a devastating hit affecting relationships with the CFTC and Congress especially as it relates to the feedback he was providing on crypto derivatives changes and the Stabenow-Boozman Digital Consumer Commodity Protection Act (DCCPA) coming out of the Senate Ag committee.

Undoubtedly, SBF’s (as Sam Bankman-Fried is colloquially known) actions were damaging to the crypto industry itself which was already dealing with multiple scandals,  hacks and “rugs” making DC power players wonder if crypto is a positive, world-changing innovation or just a fleeting ponzi scheme that allows SEC Chair Gary Gensler to say, “I told you so.”

Moreover, the financial damage wrought by the enormous blunder is still unknown. Are all customer funds safe? Maybe. Seems so. What about FTX’s billions in funds? Likely not. How about FTX’s investors? They’re definitely holding the bag.

One important qualifier in this mess is that (the carve out within FTX which deals with US business) will remain independent from the Binance deal meaning Bankman-Fried is still in the game, so to speak – at least for now – until another shoe drops.

Continue reading “FTX Implosion May Be The Catalyst for Fast-Tracking Legislation”

Senator Lummis Asks For Disclosure Requirements From SEC’s Gensler Before Next Congress

Senator Lummis

It was a relatively brief interaction, but in engaging with SEC Chair Gary Gensler at his Senate Banking Committee hearing last week, Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R, WY) provided an update on her bipartisan Responsible Financial Innovation Act (RFIA) co-sponsored with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D, NY).

Senator Lummis also generated news about the SEC’s crypto disclosure requirements.

View at 1 hour 36 minutes of the video for Thursday’s hearing on oversight of the SEC.

Lummis told SEC Chair Gensler that she and Sen. Gillibrand expect to re-introduce the bill early in the new Congress next year.

In order to meet that deadline, she asked that Chair Gensler and SEC staff work with her and Gillibrand on Section 301 of the bill to understand the necessary disclosures required by digital asset companies.

Throughout the brief interaction, Sen. Lummis made multiple mentions of her Democratic colleague’s involvement appearing to signal to the Democrat Gensler, who was appointed by a Democratic administration, that this isn’t just a Republican initiative.

Continue reading “Senator Lummis Asks For Disclosure Requirements From SEC’s Gensler Before Next Congress”

Senator Booker May Co-Sponsor RFIA Bill; Stablecoin Bills are “Meld”-ing

Senators Gillibrand and Lumis

This morning at Bloomberg’s Crypto Summit in New York City, Senator Cynthia Lummis (R, WY) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, (D, NY) continued their outreach to the blockchain industry with a 15-minute, recently recorded fireside chat on the Responsible Financial Innovation Act (RFIA) with Bloomberg’s Allyson Versprille. The chat featured familiar talking points as well as a deeper discussion on timelines and attainable milestones for their bill and components of it.

The Highlights

Senator Lummis said specifically that the stablecoin part of the bill could “go through” the Senate Banking Committee on which she sits this year led by Senator Pat Toomey (R, PA).

The total RFIA bill will likely take until and through next year said Senator Lummis. Senator Gillibrand emphasized bi-partisan participation on behalf of Democrats noting Senator Wyden’s (D, OR) participation on tax provisions as well as overall participation by Democrats in the Senate Banking and Agriculture Committees.

Continuing to address RFIA’s momentum, NIST‘s cybersecurity piece could move forward on the Intelligence Committee of which Senator Gillibrand is a member. Gillibrand added that she and Senator Lummis are actively educating Congress on their bill. Senator Lummis emphasized bi-partisan education on Senate Banking as well as keeping Republican leadership informed on timelines. She also said, on the House side, that Maxine Waters (D, CA) and Patrick McHenry (R, NC) are “coalescing” on thoughts related to RFIA.

Continue reading “Senator Booker May Co-Sponsor RFIA Bill; Stablecoin Bills are “Meld”-ing”