Rep. Tom Emmer is Congressional Crypto King – Minnesota Reformer | Jewelry Dukan

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

Beginning in the spring, the value of bitcoin, ethereum, and other top cryptocurrencies soared from last year’s all-time highs, wiping out $2 trillion and sending several crypto firms into bankruptcy, one of which was threatened Allegations of rampant fraud.

But despite the turmoil, Rep. Tom Emmer, a powerful House Republican from Minnesota, has been steadfast in his support for the industry. While some in Congress are approaching the unstable crypto market with caution and concern, Emmer has touted it as an opportunity for Americans to gain financial freedom.

“It has to do with capital formation. What I want this country to do for me better than everyone else is – I don’t have to know anyone to be someone,” Emmer said axios in August.

“Are we going to create an environment where people are making their investments right here in the United States and grow those opportunities here, or are we going to play the ‘I’m scared of what I won’t do’ game? understand? game,” he said.

Emmer, who serves as head of the GOP’s campaign arm of the House of Representatives, is among the most powerful lawmakers in Washington championing digital currencies and the blockchain technology that supports them. Fourth in line for the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives and a top member of the body that oversees the financial services industry, his endorsement will likely be vital to the crypto market, receiving both positive and negative attention.

Crypto evangelists say digital currencies promise a way to exchange money for goods and services without the undue intrusion of government and central banks. Developers also say the underlying blockchain technology — a digital ledger that can store information — offers the possibility of a more decentralized internet free from the interference of tech titans like Facebook and Google.

Crypto skeptics say it is a old-fashioned pump-and-dump scheme cloaked in techno-utopian language that lures everyday investors with promises of profit – with the recent collapse providing plenty of evidence that cryptocurrencies are neither a stable investment nor a legitimate currency.

The Politics of Crypto

As virtual currencies have surged in popularity in recent years — particularly during the torrid pandemic-era crypto bull run — lawmakers across the country have done so wrestled how to approach the trillion dollar market that remains volatile and largely unregulated. For some, the crypto community offers not only a financial opportunity, but also a political one.

“Democrats are making a huge mistake by ditching the crypto vote [the] GOP,” Jeff Roberts, the crypto editor at wealth, tweeted last year. “Crypto has a wealthy and rapidly growing constituency and will support anyone who supports it.”

It’s unclear what exactly drew Emmer to crypto in the first place. Neither he nor his office responded to multiple requests for comment. But he was an early adopter on Capitol Hill and first got interested in crypto about seven years ago, he said axios.

“The future is here and crypto has the ability to decentralize control and empower each and every one of us,” he said during his 2020 campaign. This year, he became one of the first congressional candidates to accept donations in bitcoin and held the “first town hall for cryptocurrencies”. Since then he has receive the maximum contribution amount allowed by Bitpay, a bitcoin payment service whose CEO attended the event.

It’s unclear if Emmer owns any digital assets of his own. His latest financial disclosure reportfiled in 2021, shows none.

But Emmer, whose rural 6th Ward outside of Minneapolis is far from the nation’s financial centers, has it opposite stricter banking regulation in the past. Now he is among a growing number of political leaders who have chosen to publicly embrace the new financial technology as its appeal has spread to the mainstream.

“Bitcoin is a great financial balance,” said Scott Conger, a Tennessee mayor who wants to add a bitcoin mining network to City Hall New York Times. “It’s a hedge against inflation. It can close that wealth gap,” he said in January, even as the crypto market tumbled.

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

Dueling letters to Yellen

Proponents of cryptocurrencies cite their decentralized nature — meaning they’re not controlled by big banks or governments — as their greatest strength. But critics say the lack of oversight is ripening the market for criminals to exploit, and the recent billions of dollars in money laundering cases have put the spotlight on the weaknesses of the industry.

I am deeply concerned by the volatility of the cryptocurrency market and the inadequate regulatory environment where crypto fraud, fraud, theft and evasion remain rampant and the savings of large investors have evaporated,” said Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren. an outspoken crypto skeptic, wrote to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen last week.

Warren says some of crypto’s anonymizing features can be exploited by illegal actors to circumvent US sanctions. She called on Yellen to “protect the integrity of America’s sanctions regime” and address the climatic impact of cryptocurrency mining, which consumes computer and energy swathes, “and to protect consumers and investors.”

For his part, Emmer also recently sent Yellen a letter – but was examining the Treasury Department’s recent enforcement actions. In August, the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Department sanctioned an anonymizing crypto software called Tornado Cash, which is accused of “having been used to launder more than $7 billion worth of virtual currencies since its inception in 2019.”

“This includes over $455 million stolen by the Lazarus Group, a state-sponsored hacking group in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Sanctioned by the US in 2019in which largest known virtual currency robbery to date‘ said OFAC.

However, Emmer pointed out that Tornado Cash is a technological tool that runs by code and is not controlled by any specific person or entity. “[T]The sanctioning of neutral, open-source, decentralized technology raises a number of new questions, Emmer wrote, “that impact not only our national security but also the right to privacy of every American citizen.”

Emmer has made it clear that he is not against all government regulation; Rather, to boost business, he wants it to be minimal. “As co-chair of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, I continually advocate for more education and introduce legislation in Congress on new technological innovations and our need for light regulations to allow development and investment to thrive in the United States,” Emmer’s website conditions.

in a (n interview Speaking to CoinDesk last month, Emmer said of the Treasury Department’s foreign asset regulators, “They have a job to do, no question.”

But more broadly, he believes some federal agencies — the Securities and Exchange Commission in particular – have stepped out of their existing jurisdiction to try to crack down on the crypto market. “Congress deserves a lot of criticism for not doing anything to direct these bureaucracies, these regulators, to do their jobs,” he said. Lawmakers urgently need to legislate to provide guidelines, he said.

In 2021 Emmer introduced the bipartisan Securities Clarity Act to try to provide some definitions for regulators and the crypto industry alike.

“Regulators have an unreasonable approach to how federal securities laws should be applied to transactions involving the sale of blockchain-based tokens, and this lack of clarity hurts American innovation,” Emmer said in a statement at the time. “Between regulation through enforcement and differing legal decisions regarding how these assets are classified, regulatory uncertainty has hampered the growth of blockchain technology and prompted many to take the technology overseas.”

The law has yet to be passed, but Emmer hopes Congress will take action in the new year after midterm elections in the fall.

“I think what you’re seeing in the community is that Congress needs to really move something next year to come out with a definition,” he told CoinDesk, “so that we can not only hold the bureaucracy but the regulators to account, but they know what their trail is.”

In any case, Emmer doesn’t think crypto should be a divisive political issue. “I feel like this can’t be biased,” he said axios. “This is literally about looking at America and opportunities for Americans.”

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