In 2020, two Pro-Life, Pro-Guns, and Pro-Trump Conservative Republicans in Congress could now be designated as Pro-Crypto and Pro-Blockchain. Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY) has received an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association. Congressman Paul Gosar, D.D.S. (R-AZ) has received a 98% rating on a scorecard analyzing ‘How Conservative are your Congressmen and Senators?” by Heritage Action For America, a sister organization of the Heritage Foundation.
Last week, Guthrie was the only sponsor of a bill he introduced called the ‘Advancing Blockchain Act,’ part of a group of Republican bills in the House aiming to support technology in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Two months ago, Gosar was the only sponsor of a bill he introduced called the ‘Crypto-Currency Act of 2020’ that includes a comprehensive regulatory framework at the Federal level for cryptocurrency.
This represents a departure in the 116th Congress from what has been a bipartisan approach by a group of Democratic and Republican Members to blockchain and crypto legislation. For Guthrie, he himself has been part of the bipartisan work on at least one bill, the ‘Blockchain Promotion Act of 2019,’ where he co-sponsored the ‘Blockchain Promotion Act’ (H.R. 1361) with Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA). A similar bill was co-sponsored by Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) and Senator Todd Young (R-IN) in the Senate (S. 553) that has already advanced out of Committee favorably to the Senate floor.
This raises the question as to why Guthrie introduced a new bill that according to a press release from his office states, ‘The Advancing Blockchain Act will promote the use of blockchain technology in our economy.’ ‘Blockchain technology can be used for cryptocurrency, but it also has many other potential applications, and the Advancing Blockchain Act will allow us to explore these uses to improve our technology,’ said Guthrie.
Republican leader Greg Walden (R-OR) of the Energy and Commerce Committee who led the effort on tech bills by Republicans including Guthrie stated, ‘Emerging technologies will define America’s future. We must lead to develop and adopt these technologies to not only take advantage of their tremendous benefits, but also to maintain our national and economic security as other countries like China try to beat us over the next decade.’
The question of course is, does the crypto community want to embrace these ‘Crypto Conservatives’ who are working as mavericks and may have views that clash with some in the industry. ‘They seem to be right about most issues so I’m not surprised [they are] also right about crypto,’ states Preston Byrne, partner at Anderson Kill in Washington D.C.
Wendy O, Founder of Beyond Associations stated, ‘Most people in crypto are Libertarian. Me personally, I like minimal government interaction and believe the people should dictate and govern things to an extent. I do not necessarily think that having support from the Conservative Republican side is a negative, at this point any support to help with guidance is welcome as for real adoption to take place we need to work alongside the government.’
Wendy O goes on to explain that, ‘Yes, that sounds bizarre as the community is about decentralization and in some cases anarchy, but ultimately, compromise is needed. Without compromise there will be no growth.’
While it is still not clear as to the intent behind exploring blockchain in the context of interstate commerce, it is hard to find fault with the enthusiasm of Guthrie for blockchain. For an industry that knows no limits on the idea of ‘hype,’ he fits right in if he is seeking the title of ‘Chief Promoter of Blockchain’ in Congress.
For Congressman Gosar’s Crypto-Currency Act, he worked with Marshall Hayner, CEO of Metal Pay who recently teamed up with Fred Kreuger of Lynx to introduce a new blockchain platform called Proton. With support from Erik Finman, the world’s youngest Bitcoin millionaire, Gosar has introduced a comprehensive bill that looks to assign duties to U.S. regulators for crypto and seeks to do so by economic function.
Including terms such as Crypto-Commodities, Crypto-Securities, and Crypto-Currencies, this approach to regulating crypto by economic function has been validated by a white paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas co-authored by Raphael Auer, a principal economist at the Bank of International Settlements, who recently appeared at Consensus Distributed to discuss central bank digital currencies.
The paper states, ‘To tackle regulatory concerns, authorities will first need to clarify the regulatory classification of cryptocurrency-related activities, and to do so using criteria based on economic functions rather than the technology used…’