US Lawmakers Eye National Crypto Regulation
Gun control' Russia' Health care' Members of the US House of Representatives and Senate in both parties tend to differ, and often vehemently. Similar to issues of national security and war, however, it appears cryptocurrency regulation is decidedly less divisive. Both traditionally pro-market Republicans and open-minded Democrats are producing bipartisan rhetoric in support of federal legislation to tame the crypto revolution.
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Crypto Regulation Rhetoric Is Bipartisan
Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat, walked a tight rhetorical line on the burgeoning cryptocurrency phenomenon, saying, 'The goal here is to have rules of the road that protect consumers without trying to squash innovation.'
Cynics have long contended both political wings in the United States are part of the same sick bird. They seem to have differences, responding to various constituencies with requisite amounts of intensity, but when it comes to guns and butter, and especially butter, cosmetic differences are set aside and a strange uniformity kicks in.
Republican Senator Mike Rounds told Reuters, 'There's no question about the fact that there is a need for a regulatory framework.' Indeed, at an open hearing under the auspice of Senator Rounds' committee, both Chairs of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) were decidedly agnostic on extending their own powers, but in agreement future focus would need to be placed upon cryptocurrencies specifically. Whether that came in the form of a dedicated and separate agency or some hybrid within existing institutions is all up for grabs.
Calls for regulation seemed to dry as bitcoin tumbled some 60 percent recently, signaling to those less literate in crypto such markets were ending in a natural death. However, across the board cryptocurrencies are rebounding, showing a resilience troubling to lawmakers. 'The SEC is properly the lead on the issue. Six months ago, we didn't see this explosion. The marketplace has changed,' Republican House member Bill Huizenga noticed. His committee is taking up the issue of crypto regulation next month, and he's on record as supporting oversight.
Election Season Is On and Cracking
Adding to US regulatory fever is an off-year election this November. The entire 435 lower legislative body, the House of Representatives, is up for reelection, and Republicans hold a slim and narrowing majority. A third of the US Senate's 100 member chamber is also up, and Republicans hold a slight lead there as well. With a Republican President set for two more years after, both parties see this November as a chance to alter political fortunes. American politicians typically hit on easier targets, and crypto's considerable bad press, linking it to crime and fraud, might be just a topic to gain the electorate's attention.
'A lot of people don't realize there's nothing backing these virtual currencies,' warned House Democrat Carolyn Maloney. Congresswoman Maloney wishes to expand SEC jurisdiction over cryptocurrencies.
Republican House member Tom MacArthur cautioned, 'We have to look carefully at all of the cryptocurrencies and make sure individuals don't get taken advantage of.'
House Freedom Caucus member Republican Dave Brat gave an equivocation, 'I'm a total free-marketer, so I don't want to regulate, but if it's a currency that could destabilize the whole economy, you're going to have that conversation.'
The White House, for its part, has expressed worry with regard to bitcoin and crime, but it hasn't put forth any policy proposals as of yet. Asked about the prospects for a federal regulation agenda emanating from the Oval Office, Special Assistant to the President Rob Royce explained, "I think we’re still absolutely studying and understanding what the good ideas and bad ideas in that space are. So I don’t think it’s close.”
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