Breaking: Key US House Committee Leaders Challenges Federal Reserve on Stablecoin

The House Financial Services Committee’s top brass, including Chairman Patrick McHenry (NC-10), Vice Chairman French Hill (AR-02), and Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, Bill Huizenga (MI-04), have formally expressed their concerns to the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) regarding its recent regulatory moves on payment stablecoins.

In a letter addressed to Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, the trio voiced their objections to the Fed’s recent supervision and regulation letters, specifically “Creation of Novel Activities Supervision Program” (SR 23-7) and “Supervisory Nonobjection Process for State Member Banks Seeking to Engage in Certain Activities Involving Dollar Tokens” (SR 23-8), both issued on August 8, 2023. The committee members believe these actions could potentially undermine the progress Congress has made in establishing a regulatory framework for payment stablecoins.

The letter highlights Congress’s understanding of the need for regulatory clarity in the digital asset ecosystem, emphasizing the “Clarity for Payment Stablecoins Act” as a bipartisan effort to provide such clarity. However, the Fed’s issuance of SR 23-7 and SR 23-8, shortly after the Committee’s endorsement of the aforementioned act, has raised eyebrows.

The committee members argue that the Fed’s actions, particularly through SR 23-7 and SR 23-8, seem to deter banks from issuing payment stablecoins or even participating in the stablecoin ecosystem. They further assert that the “Novel Activities Supervision Program” under SR 23-7 appears to impose additional regulatory burdens on banking institutions engaging with crypto-assets. This, combined with previous policy statements and decisions by the Fed, could lead to an implicit prohibition on banks’ involvement in the digital asset ecosystem.

Furthermore, the committee members pointed out that the Fed did not follow the notice and comment process as mandated by the Administrative Procedure Act when issuing SR 23-7 and SR 23-8. They view this as an attempt by the Fed to set policy without being accountable to market participants and the public.

Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Patrick McHenry has been aggressively working to protect laws governing digital assets because he believes that organisations like the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, and the IRS are undermining these laws. He criticised the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the requirements for reporting digital assets that was released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury on August 26, 2023 as a result of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. He referred to this as yet another effort by the Biden government to damage the American digital asset ecosystem and encouraged the government to work together with Congress to provide clear laws for the sector.

Widespread criticism has been levelled at the Treasury and IRS’s proposed rules, which would require brokers to disclose sales and swaps of digital assets made by their clients. The Tax Law Centre at NYU Law has also voiced its worries and warned of possible financial repercussions over the delay in adopting these measures.

In conclusion, as the ecosystem for digital assets develops, the struggle between Congress and regulatory agencies highlights the need for a well-defined strategy that protects both consumers and market players while ensuring the industry’s expansion.

Image source: Shutterstock


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Chairman McHenry Sharply Criticizes U.S. Treasury and IRS Over Digital Asset Reporting Proposals

Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Patrick McHenry, has publicly voiced his concerns over the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on digital asset reporting requirements issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The proposed regulations, which were announced on August 25, 2023, are part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Chairman McHenry stated, “The notice of proposed rulemaking on digital asset reporting requirements is another front in the Biden Administration’s ongoing attack on the digital asset ecosystem.” He emphasized that following the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, lawmakers from both parties had clearly expressed that any proposed rule should be “narrow, tailored, and clear.”

While McHenry acknowledged the delayed effective date and exemptions for other activities in the proposed rule, which he said mirrored his bipartisan bill, the “Keep Innovation in America Act,” he also pointed out its shortcomings. “However, it fails on numerous other counts. Any additional rulemakings related to the other sections from the law must adhere to Congressional intent,” he added.

The Chairman further urged the Biden Administration to cease its efforts to undermine the digital asset ecosystem in the U.S. and collaborate with Congress to establish clear regulations for the industry. He expressed his commitment to advancing his bipartisan solution, the “Keep Innovation in America Act,” to rectify these reporting requirements, safeguard the privacy of market participants, and ensure the digital asset ecosystem thrives in the U.S.

Chairman McHenry is the lead sponsor of H.R. 1414, the “Keep Innovation in America Act,” which aims to amend the digital asset reporting provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The bill has garnered support from a bipartisan group of colleagues, including Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15).

For context, the proposed regulations by the Treasury and IRS aim to mandate brokers to report sales and exchanges of digital assets conducted by their customers. The regulations are designed to address ambiguities surrounding digital assets, including defining brokers and introducing a new reporting form, Form 1099-DA. IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel commented on the regulations, emphasizing their design to “end confusion involving digital assets” and ensure that “digital assets are not used to hide taxable income.”

Public feedback on these proposed regulations is open until October 30, 2023, with a public hearing scheduled for November 7, 2023.

There are widespread criticisms regarding the proposed regulations, in addition to those expressed by Chairman McHenry. Chye-Ching Huang from the Tax Law Center at NYU Law voiced concerns with an article titled “U.S. Will Likely Lose Billions Due to Unacceptably Long Delay for Digital Asset Reporting Requirements“, over the “unacceptably long delay” in releasing the proposed rules. The Center pointed out the decision to postpone full implementation of these requirements until 2026, a two-year delay from the original statute. They warned of the financial implications of this delay, suggesting that the Treasury and IRS might lose out on billions due to tax non-compliance for digital asset transactions in 2023 and 2024.

The Tax Law Center further emphasized that the Treasury and IRS had other viable options to implement these reporting requirements in a timely manner, allowing for public input and system development.

Image source: Shutterstock


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US House Committee Chair Criticizes SEC on Digital Assets

Patrick McHenry, the Chair of the United States House Financial Services Committee, has criticized the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over its approach to digital assets. During an oversight hearing on April 18, McHenry used his opening statement to accuse the SEC of “punishing” digital asset firms through regulation by enforcement without a clear path to compliance. McHenry reiterated his calls for clear legislation on crypto and pressed SEC Chair Gary Gensler for a definitive answer on whether Ether (ETH) qualified as a security or a commodity.

McHenry expressed his concerns over the SEC’s actions, citing the lack of clarity and consistency in the regulatory landscape for digital assets. He accused the SEC of “chasing headlines” and penalizing companies without providing clear guidance on how to comply with regulations. McHenry also called on US lawmakers to create “clear rules of the road” for crypto through legislation.

During the hearing, McHenry pressed Gensler to give a definitive answer on whether Ether was a security or a commodity. He repeatedly interrupted Gensler’s responses that lacked specifics, citing the SEC chair’s previous labeling of Bitcoin (BTC) as a commodity and hinting at private discussions on Ether prior to the hearing.

“Clearly an asset cannot be both a commodity and a security,” said McHenry. “I’m asking you, sitting in your chair now, to make an assessment under the laws as exist, is Ether a commodity or a security?”

The question of whether Ether is a security has been a contentious issue for the crypto industry. In 2018, William Hinman, former SEC Director of Corporate Finance, stated that he did not believe Ether was a security. However, in December 2020, the SEC filed a lawsuit against Ripple Labs, claiming that the firm had sold unregistered securities in the form of its XRP tokens. The lawsuit sparked concerns among crypto enthusiasts that the SEC may also take action against Ether and other digital assets.

McHenry’s criticism of the SEC’s approach to digital assets reflects broader concerns over the lack of clarity and consistency in the regulatory landscape for crypto. The industry has faced regulatory challenges in several jurisdictions, with some countries, such as China and India, imposing outright bans on crypto trading and mining. However, other countries, including the US, are still grappling with how to regulate digital assets in a way that balances innovation and investor protection.

In conclusion, McHenry’s criticism of the SEC’s regulatory approach to digital assets highlights the need for clear and consistent regulations on crypto. While the industry continues to evolve rapidly, it is crucial that regulators provide clear guidance and support for companies to comply with regulations while fostering innovation in the sector.


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Senate banking chair considers crypto prohibition


Senator Sherrod Brown of the United States argued that it would be very difficult to implement such a prohibition due to the fact that the activity in question would just move offshore.

Sherrod Brown, the chairman of the United States Banking Committee, has proposed that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) might maybe consider outlawing cryptocurrencies.

In answer to a question that had been posed earlier by a presenter concerning Senator Jon Tester, who is of the opinion that cryptocurrencies need to be outlawed, Brown said that he is of the same opinion.

The congressman from Ohio said that he has been warning his colleagues and the general public about the risks associated with cryptocurrencies for the last eighteen months, and he has been advocating for immediate and stringent action to be done.

He said that he had previously approached the Treasury and the Secretary with his request for a comprehensive review of the situation by the whole government, including all of the many regulatory agencies.

Brown noted the shocking collapse of FTX as an example of why it may be worthwhile to contemplate a ban, but he stressed that this is just one significant component of the whole issue.

He argued that cryptocurrencies are risky and a threat to national security, and he cited North Korean cybercriminal activity, the trafficking of drugs and humans, as well as the financing of terrorist organizations, as some of the issues that have been exacerbated as a result of the use of cryptocurrencies.

Since the beginning of this year, the chairman of the Banking Committee has been vocal about his doubts towards cryptocurrencies. Most recently, he has highlighted his worries over the issues of stablecoin issuance as well as cryptocurrency advertising and marketing efforts.

On November 23, Senator Tom Emmer made the statement that the breakdown of FTX was not a failure of cryptography but rather a failure caused by centralized actors.

Emmer also holds the view that crippling regulation would stifle industry innovation in the United States, causing it to lose its position of global market dominance — something that many people believe is already unfolding. Emmer is a supporter of the American Competitiveness and Innovation Act (ACIA).


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