Rep. Tom Emmer is the cryptocurrency king of Congress

WASHINGTON – As major cryptocurrencies plummeted over the summer and dozens of Americans suffered huge losses, federal lawmakers and regulators faced increasing pressure to rein in the growing digital currency market.

Since the spring, the value of Bitcoin, Ethereum and other major cryptocurrencies has increased in value from last year’s all-time highs, wiping out $ 2 trillion and bankrupting several cryptocurrency companies, with one in front allegations of rampant fraud.

But despite the uproar, Rep Tom Emmer, a powerful Republican in the Minnesota House, was steadfast in his support of the industry. While some in Congress approach the volatile cryptocurrency market with caution and concern, Emmer has promoted it as an opportunity for Americans to achieve financial freedom.

“It is related to the formation of capital. For me, what should make this country better than any other is: I don’t need to know someone to be someone “, Emmer said Ace in August.

“We will create an environment where people make their investments right here in the United States and these opportunities grow here, or we will play ‘I’m afraid of what I don’t do’. comprehend? game, “she said.

Emmer, who serves as head of the campaign arm of the House GOP, is among the most powerful lawmakers in Washington to support digital currencies, as well as the blockchain technology that supports them. As a fourth in line with Republican House leadership and a prominent panel member overseeing the financial services industry, her support is likely to be vital to the cryptocurrency market as she gets both positive and negative attention.

Cryptocurrency evangelists say digital currencies promise a way to exchange money for goods and services without excessive government and central bank intrusion. The developers also say that the underlying blockchain technology, a digital ledger capable of storing information, offers the possibility of a more decentralized internet, free from the interference of tech titans like Facebook and Google.

Cryptocurrency skeptics say it’s a old pump and drain scheme dressed in techno-utopian language, luring everyday investors with the promise of profits, with the recent crash offering plenty of evidence that cryptocurrency is neither a stable investment nor a legitimate currency.

The cryptocurrency policy

As virtual currencies have gained popularity in recent years, particularly during the pandemic-era cryptocurrency rush, lawmakers across the country have done so. struggled with how to tackle the trillion dollar market, which remains volatile and largely unregulated. For some, the cryptocurrency community offers not only a financial, but also a political opportunity.

“Democrats are making a huge mistake by giving the vote to cryptocurrencies [the] GOP, “Jeff Roberts, the cryptocurrency publisher of Fortune, tweeted last year. “Crypto is a rich and fast-growing constituency and will support anyone who supports it.”

It is unclear what initially attracted Emmer to cryptocurrencies. Neither he nor his office responded to multiple requests for comment. But he was one of the early adopters on Capitol Hill, first taking an interest in cryptocurrencies about seven years ago, he said. Ace.

“The future is here and cryptocurrencies have the ability to decentralize control and empower each of us,” he said during his 2020 campaign. That year, he they became one of the first congressional candidates to accept Bitcoin donations and held the “first ever cryptocurrency city hall”. Since then, it has received the amount of the maximum contribution allowed by Bitpay, a Bitcoin payment service, whose CEO joined the event.

It is unclear whether Emmer has its own digital assets. His latest financial revelation reportfiled in 2021, there is none.

But Emmer, whose sixth rural district outside Minneapolis is far from the country’s financial centers, did contrary in the past, stricter banking regulation. It is now part of a growing number of political leaders who have chosen to publicly embrace new financial technology as its traditional appeal has spread.

“Bitcoin is a great financial equalizer,” said Scott Conger, a Tennessee mayor who wants to add a Bitcoin mining network to City Hall, according to the New York Times. “It’s a hedge against inflation. It can bridge that wealth gap, “he said in January, even as the cryptocurrency market was slipping.

In El Salvador, Bitcoin is now a national currency. But with the recent market downturn, the country has – at least on paper – lost more than half of its investment.

Duel letters to Yellen

Proponents of cryptocurrencies cite their decentralized nature, which means they are not controlled by large banks or governments, as their biggest selling point. But critics say lack of oversight makes the market ripe for exploitation of criminals and recent billion-dollar money laundering. cases they have put the spotlight on the weaknesses of the sector.

I am deeply concerned about the volatility of the cryptocurrency market and the inadequate regulatory environment where scams, fraud, theft and evasion continue to ramp up and the savings of investors mom and dad have vanished, “said Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, a cryptocurrency. outspoken skeptic, he wrote to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen last week.

Warren says some of the anonymization features of cryptocurrencies can be exploited by illicit actors to avoid US sanctions. He urged Yellen to “protect the integrity of the US sanction regime” and address the climatic implications of mining for cryptocurrencies, which uses a variety of computers and energy, “and to protect consumers and investors.”

Emmer, for his part, also recently sent a letter to Yellen, but has reviewed the Treasury Department’s recent enforcement actions. In August, the department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned an anonymous piece of cryptographic software known as Tornado Cash, accusing it of being “used to launder more than $ 7 billion worth of virtual currency since its creation in 2019”.

“This includes over $ 455 million stolen by the Lazarus Group, a state-sponsored hacking group of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) that was sanctioned by the United States in 2019in the the largest known virtual currency theft to date”, Stated OFAC.

Emmer, however, pointed out that Tornado Cash is a code-driven technology tool not controlled by a specific person or entity. “[T]The approval of neutral, open source and decentralized technology presents a number of new questions, “Emmer wrote,” which impact not only our national security, but every American citizen’s right to privacy. “

Emmer made it clear that he does not oppose all government regulations; rather, in an effort to increase the business, he wants it to be minimal. “As co-chair of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, I consistently advocate for greater education and introduce legislation in Congress regarding new technology innovations and our need for light regulation so that development and investment thrive in the United States,” the site Emmer’s web States.

In a interview With CoinDesk last month, Emmer said of the Treasury Department’s foreign asset regulators: “They have a job to do, no question.”

But more generally, he believes that some federal regulators – the Securities and Exchange Commission in particular, they have gone outside their existing jurisdiction to try to crack down on the cryptocurrency market. “Congress deserves a lot of criticism for not doing anything to help run these bureaucracies, these regulators, do their jobs,” she said. Lawmakers urgently need to pass legislation to provide guidelines, she said.

In 2021, Emmer introduced the bipartisan Securities Clarity Act to try to provide some definitions for both regulators and the cryptocurrency industry.

“There has been an unreasonable approach by regulators on how to apply federal securities laws to transactions involving the sale of blockchain-based tokens, and this lack of clarity is hurting American innovation,” Emmer said. in a statement at the time. “Between the regulation of the application and the various legal decisions related to the classification of these assets, regulatory uncertainty has hampered the growth of blockchain technology, leaving many to take the technology overseas.”

Legislation has yet to be passed, but Emmer hopes Congress will take action in the new year after the autumn mid-term elections.

“I think what you are looking at in the community is that Congress will really have to move next year to get some definition out there,” he told CoinDesk, “so that we can hold not only the bureaucracy, but also the regulators, accountable. but they know what their lane is.

Either way, Emmer doesn’t think cryptocurrencies should be a divisive political issue. “I feel this can’t be biased,” he said Ace. “It is literally about looking at America and opportunities for Americans.”

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