WASHINGTON — Congress and regulators faced pressure to curb the growing digital currency market as major cryptocurrencies crashed over the summer and many Americans suffered huge losses.
Since the spring, the value of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other major cryptocurrencies has plummeted from all-time highs last year, wiping out $2 trillion and driving several crypto companies into bankruptcy. Rampant Fraud Claims.
But despite the turmoil, Minnesota’s powerful House Republican, Rep. Tom Emer, has remained firm in his support of the industry. While some in Congress are treating the volatile crypto market with caution and concern, Emer promotes it as an opportunity for Americans to achieve financial freedom.
“It’s about capital formation. To me, what makes this country better than any other is that you don’t have to know anyone,” Emer said. Said Axios In August.
“Are we going to create an environment where people invest here in the United States and expand these opportunities here, or are we going to do something that I’m afraid to do that I don’t? Understand? game,” he said.
Emer, who heads the House Republican Campaign Division, is one of Washington’s most powerful lawmakers in favor of digital currencies and the blockchain technology that supports them. As a top member of the panel that oversees the financial services industry, fourth behind the House Republican leadership, his endorsement is likely to be vital for the crypto market to receive both positive and negative attention. .
Cryptocurrency evangelists say digital currencies promise a way to exchange money for goods and services without excessive government or central bank intervention. The developers also say that the underlying blockchain technology – a digital ledger on which information can be stored – offers the potential for a more decentralized internet, free from interference from tech giants such as Facebook and Google. increase.
Cryptoskeptics say it’s Old-fashioned pump-and-dump method It masquerades in techno-utopian language and attracts everyday investors with promises of profit. The recent crash has provided plenty of evidence that cryptocurrencies are neither a stable investment nor a legitimate currency.
With the rise in popularity of cryptocurrencies over the last few years, lawmakers across the country have wrestled How to approach a volatile, largely unregulated, trillion-dollar market. For some, the cryptocurrency community offers not only economic opportunities, but also political opportunities.
“Democrats are making a big mistake in giving up their cryptocurrency voting rights to the United States. [the] GOP’s Crypto Editor Jeff Roberts luck, murmured last year. “Crypto is a wealthy and fast-growing constituency, and we support anyone who supports it.”
It’s unclear why Emmer was drawn to cryptocurrencies in the first place. Neither he nor his office responded to multiple requests for comment, but he said he was an early adopter of Capitol Hill and first became interested in cryptocurrencies about seven years ago. rice field. Axios.
“The future is here and crypto has the ability to decentralize control and empower each of us,” he said during the 2020 campaign. became One of the first congressional candidates to accept donations in Bitcoin, hold “The first ever cryptocurrency town hall.”Since then he received The maximum allowed contribution from Bitpay, the Bitcoin payment service that the CEO attended the event.
It is unclear if Emmer owns any of his digital assets.his final financial disclosure reportsubmitted in 2021, but I don’t see anything.
But Emmer, who lives in the rural Minneapolis suburb of District 6, is far from the country’s financial center. opposed Tighter banking regulations in the past. Now he is part of a growing number of political leaders, choosing to openly embrace new financial technologies as their mainstream appeal grows.
Tennessee Mayor Scott Conger, who wants to add a bitcoin mining network to Tennessee City Hall, said: new york times“It’s a hedge against inflation. We can close that wealth gap,” he said in January, even as the crypto market was plunging.
In El Salvador, Bitcoin has become the national currency. But the recent market downturn has left the country – at least on paper – lost more than half of the investment.
Dueling letter to Yellen
Proponents of cryptocurrency cite its decentralized nature – not controlled by big banks or governments – as its greatest strength.But critics say the lack of oversight makes the market ripe for criminal exploitation, and the recent multi-billion dollar money laundering Case We spotlighted the weaknesses of the industry.
“I am deeply concerned about the volatility in the cryptocurrency market and the poorly regulated environment where cryptocurrency fraud, fraud, theft and evasion continue to thrive and evaporate the savings of family-owned investors. . ” outspoken cryptoskeptic, I have written Last week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
Warren said some of the anonymization features of cryptocurrencies could be abused by illegal actors to evade U.S. sanctions. She told President Yellen to “protect the integrity of the U.S. sanctions regime,” address the climate impacts of computer- and energy-intensive cryptocurrency mining, and “protect consumers and investors.” I asked.
Emmer also recently sent a letter to President Yellen, reviewing recent enforcement actions by the Treasury Department. In August, the Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said: Licensed It is part of an anonymizing cryptographic software known as Tornado Cash, which it accuses it of being “used to launder more than $7 billion in cryptocurrencies since its creation in 2019.”
“This includes over $455 million stolen by the Lazarus Group, a hacking group backed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Sanctioned by the US in 2019in The biggest crypto heist ever knownsaid OFAC.
However, Emmer pointed out that Tornado Cash is a technical tool operated by code and not controlled by any specific person or organization. “[T]Licensing neutral, open-source, decentralized technology raises a new set of problems,” wrote Emer.
Emer made it clear that he is not against all government regulations. Rather, we want to minimize it to boost business. “As Co-Chair of Congress’ Blockchain Caucus, I will always advocate for better education and introduce legislation into Congress on the need for new innovation and light-touch regulation so that development and investment in the United States can thrive. ,” says Emmer’s website situation.
and interview Speaking to CoinDesk last month, Emmer said of the Treasury Department’s foreign asset regulators, “they have work to do, no question.”
But in a broader sense, he believes some federal regulators – Securities and Exchange Commission In particular, it has stepped outside existing jurisdictions to try to police the crypto market. “Congress deserves a lot of criticism for not doing anything to help direct these bureaucrats and regulators to do their jobs,” he said. A bill needs to be passed urgently to provide, he said.
2021, Emer introduced A bipartisan Securities Clarification Act that seeks to provide some definitions to regulators and the cryptocurrency industry alike.
In a statement at the time, Emmer said, “There has been an unjustified approach by regulators to how federal securities laws should apply to transactions involving the sale of blockchain-based tokens, and this lack of clarity has led to American innovation. It’s hurting,” he said. “Between regulation by enforcement and various legal decisions regarding the classification of these assets, regulatory uncertainty is hindering the growth of blockchain technology, with many taking the technology abroad.”
The bill hasn’t passed yet, but Emmer hopes Congress will take action in the new year, after the fall midterm elections.
“I think what you’re seeing in the community is that Congress has to really move next year to come up with some definition,” he told CoinDesk. , but they know what their lane is. ”
In any case, Emer doesn’t believe cryptocurrencies should be a divisive political issue. ‘I don’t think this should be partisan,’ he said Axios“This is literally about looking at opportunities for America and Americans.”