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Tom Emmer’s maneuver to move up in US House leadership could be good for crypto

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Rep. Tom Emmer’s maneuver to move up the ranks in House leadership amid a vacant House Speaker spot could bode well for cryptocurrency legislation.

The Minnesota Republican and Majority Whip is reportedly vying for House Majority Leader or to the top position as Speaker, after the dramatic ousting of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., earlier in the week. That could be good for crypto as more seniority could mean a push to get crypto legislation across the finish line. 

“We are always excited to see any champion of the digital asset space advance and we look forward to seeing what this means for the future of our industry,” said Perianne Boring, CEO and founder of the Chamber of Digital Commerce. “Rep. Emmer has been a key collaborator for us, and we appreciate his hard work to foster innovation for digital assets and blockchain technologies.”

Emmer has introduced legislation in the past few years, including the Securities Clarity Act, which would create a new definition for tokens that exist in the in-between of commodity and security. Emmer has also been staunchly against central bank digital currencies and introduced a bill last month to prohibit the Federal Reserve from issuing a CBDC directly to individuals. 

Emmer has also been critical Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler, calling him an “impartial regulator” and taking a “regulation by harassment approach” toward digital assets during a hearing last week. Emmer criticized the agency recently as well for not yet allowing the listing of a spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund. 

Emmer is also supportive of a bill that takes a comprehensive approach at creating a regulatory framework for crypto and could be another voice behind Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, R-N.C., to push it to be considered. That bill, along with a separate bill to regulate stablecoins, was advanced out of the House Financial Services Committee in July. Notably, Emmer is a member of that committee, and McHenry leads it. 

“Those two have a good relationship,” said Ron Hammond, director of government relations at the Blockchain Association. So if McHenry asks for work on his crypto bills, Emmer will take that very seriously, Hammond added. 

McHenry is still the focus

McHenry took over the position of Speaker of the House temporarily on Tuesday — a spot he is not necessarily keen on as he has been focused on getting those two crypto bills out on the floor for a full House vote. They would still need to garner support in the Senate, which could prove to be tough. 

McHenry’s shift to House Speaker could waste precious time needed to move those bills closer to the finish line, as lawmakers ascertain who the next speaker could be. A closed door call or conversation with the Republican party is expected to happen on Oct. 10, with a possible general floor vote the next day.

“If there is anyone who holds the most power right now, for the House when it comes to crypto legislation’s future, it still rests with Patrick McHenry,” Hammond said. 

© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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