The House Energy And Commerce Committee held a marathon legislative hearing marking up 38 bills today, including successfully reporting out to the full House two bills that included crypto and blockchain studies. Part of the Digital Taxonomy Act made it out of Committee as well, representing the farthest a bill addressing regulatory clarity for blockchain tokens has gotten in the 116th Congress thus far.
. Congressman Jerry McEnery (D-CA) offered an amendment in the nature of a substitute with Congressman Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY). McEnery shared to the Committee how he was including the Blockchain Innovation Act introduced by Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Darren Soto (D-FL) and Doris Matsui (D-CA). “…this bill will help ensure we can use the benefits of blockchain technology to help stop scams and frauds,” said McEnery.
McEnery added in his remarks, “Additionally, the amendment incorporates the Digital Taxonomy Act from Representatives Soto and Davidson. This bill will help ensure that scammers and fraudsters don’t get ahead of consumers and law enforcement in the realm of blockchain and digital tokens,” said McEnery. Congressman Darren Soto (D-FL) is the co-sponsor on the Digital Taxonomy Act with Congressman Warren Davidson (R-NC), a companion bill to the Token Taxonomy Act that both Congressmen also co-sponsored together with an aim to provide regulatory clarity to blockchain technology.
Both the Blockchain Innovation Act and part of the Digital Taxonomy Act have been included in H.R. 8128, the Consumer Protection Safety Act, a bill that has now successfully been favorably reported to the House of Representatives and is successfully out of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) also urged support for the legislation as well from the consumer protection framework.
In explaining the benefits of blockchain technology, Soto used an example from Covid-19 to help explain the importance of the technology in protecting consumers with the Blockchain Innovation Act. “…the Department of Energy worked with the CDC and HSS to use their supercomputers to analyze thousands of antivirus therapeutics and narrowed it down to 12. One of those therapeutics was ‘Remdesivir’, the primary therapeutic to fight Covid-19. For supercomputing to work, the data must be trustworthy and protectable and that’s why blockchain technology is so important,” said Soto.
According to Soto, cryptocurrencies are also a great use case, particularly for small businesses looking to make international payments at low cost. His belief that Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will act as the law enforcement agency to oversee unfair and deceptive practices using digital tokens and blockchain technology came one step closer as a study and report from the Digital Taxonomy Act also made its way into into the newly amended and successfully passed out of Committee H.R. 8128.
Also, as reported yesterday, Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL) also spoke today on the “American COMPETE Act” (H.R. 8132) that was included in today’s markup as well. Rush noted the COMPETE Act, “will require the Department of Commerce and the FTC to undertake a series of studies on emerging technologies that represent the future of our economy and are at the forefront of innovation.” Rush noted it is, “essential that the U.S. maintain its extraordinary leadership…with this bill, we have undertaken exact steps to do just that.” The Advancing Blockchain Act by Representative Brett Guthrie (R-KY) was added as part of a package of eight bills focused on studies for technological competitiveness into the American COMPETE Act.
Earlier in the day, Soto described in the hearing how the study by the Department of Commerce with the Blockchain Innovation Act as included was part of a, “…long-term goal of setting up a Blockchain Center of Excellence within the Commerce Department”. Soto later described a Cryptocurrency Center of Excellence that he is working on with the Chamber of Digital Commerce at a Political Action Committee fundraising event with Perianne Boring, Founder and President of the Chamber of Digital Commerce. Soto co-hosted the event with the Chamber’s PAC, along with other blockchain enthusiasts who played a fun game of debating the pros and cons of use cases for blockchain.
Soto also announced at the Chamber PAC event that he is accepting Bitcoin in his campaign, which makes him the second candidate – the first being Congressman Tom Emmer (R-NC), also a Co-Chair of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, to accept Bitcoin in his re-election to Congress as well. The Chamber of Digital Commerce recently celebrated its fifth Anniversary last year, although its DC Blockchain Summit for 2020 was postponed as so many other events were impacted by Covid-19. Further information on the trade association can be found at www.digitalchamber.org.
Further details on the Blockchain Innovation Act and the portion of the Digital Taxonomy Act as combined into H.R. 8128 and the Advancing Blockchain Act as incorporated into H.R. 8132 will be reported on as they develop on the floor of the House of Representatives.
Disclosure: I previously worked at the Chamber of Digital Commerce and also personally donated to Darren Soto for re-election to Congress in cash. I also own some Bitcoin.