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Cryptocurrency is growing as a key topic in American politics, with industry leaders like Sam Bankman-Fried (CEO and co-founder of FTX) donating millions to super PACs for upcoming midterms. As lawmakers debate regulation and oversight of the industry, we’ve compiled a list of pro-crypto politicians to look out for as cryptocurrency moves to the forefront of the U.S. political agenda.
2020 Democratic primary presidential candidate and 2021 New York City Democratic primary mayoral candidate, Andrew Yang is most known for his policy ideas on technology, specifically a universal basic income of $1,000 as a response to jobs displaced by automation. But many people don’t know that Yang is one of the leading pro-crypto politicians; his focus on tech and innovation extends to cryptocurrency even after his runs for public office. After his bid for New York City mayor, Yang founded a new third party called the Forward Party, which he wants to make “the ‘crypto party.'” In February 2022, Yang launched lobbying DAO Lobby3, which aims to use its membership token fees to support Web3, blockchain, and cryptocurrency interests in D.C. Later in March, Yang also launched GoldenDAO devoted to Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) issues.
Yet another leading figure among pro-crypto politicians, Eric Adams made cryptocurrency a significant part of his platform for mayor, going as far as to commit to take his first three paychecks in office in Bitcoin. After being sworn in, he’s taken his first paycheck as mayor in Bitcoin and Ethereum, using Coinbase to convert funds into cryptocurrency. “New York is the center of the world, and we want it to be the center of cryptocurrency and other financial innovations,” Adams said.
In March 2021, Miami mayor Francis Suarez purchased Bitcoin and Ethereum, and later in the year, the city was making advances in cryptocurrency. MiamiCoin was launched in August 2021, and proposals were made to put government funds into Bitcoin. A Miami-Dade county cryptocurrency task force was also formed, and they explored the feasibility of using cryptocurrency to pay for taxes, fees, and government services.
Before becoming a senator of Wyoming, Cynthia Lummis disclosed her ownership of Bitcoin, her first purchase having been made in 2013 when it was about $320. Since entering office, Lummis has introduced a bill to “treat distributed ledger technology as a developing technology stack on par with artificial intelligence or biotechnology” and “called for the removal or amending of language addressing crypto brokers in the infrastructure bill”, as well as co-founding the Financial Innovation Caucus to address specific issues on digital currencies. Recently, Lummis introduced a bill with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand that would empower the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to manage oversight of cryptocurrency markets instead of the Securities Exchange Commission, which would classify the majority of digital assets as commodities and not securities.
As chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Ron Wyden has raised concerns about strict cryptocurrency regulation and how that would impact future innovation. “When I think about crypto, I think about remittances, or somebody who has a kid 1,000 miles away and wants to get them help in an emergency, rather than going through scores of banks, credit card companies,” Wyden told the Financial Times. He also believes the state of cryptocurrency is similar to that of the beginnings of the internet; ultimately, Wyden wants to be “on the side of the innovator.”
The Minnesota Congressman has been fighting what he believes is “over-regulation” of the industry on the Securities Exchange Commission’s part. In a letter to Securities Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler, Emmer said, “Crypto startups must not be weighed down by extra-jurisdictional and burdensome reporting requirements.” He also was a keynote speaker at DACFP VISION 2022, the longest-running Digital Assets Investment Conference for Financial Professionals, after sponsoring multiple crypto bills such as the Securities Clarity Act and the Safe Harbor For Taxpayers With Forked Assets Act.
As one of the leading pro-crypto politicians from the U.S. Virgin Islands, Rep. Stacey Plaskett has been an advocate for cryptocurrency as a means of financial inclusion and economic development. In July 2021, along with Rep. Austin Scott, Plaskett introduced a bill to modernize the Commodity Futures Trading Commission through “increase the Commission’s understanding of emerging technologies and its use of new tools to more effectively regulate derivatives markets.” Additionally, Plaskett was one of eleven lawmakers who urged the U.S. Treasury to consider blockchain for COVID relief funds.
Along with Sen. Cynthia Lummis, Toomey is one of the only U.S. Senators who own cryptocurrency assets. In April 2022, Toomey announced legislation for frameworks concerning stablecoins. “The proposed regulatory framework I’m releasing today will allow this crypto-innovation to continue flourishing while protecting consumers and minimizing potential risks from stablecoins to the financial system,” said Toomey. With a potential looming recession, other lawmakers are optimistic about Toomey’s bill to resolve issues around cryptocurrency supervision.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Katherine Zhang is a contributor to Identity Review from the University of California, Berkeley.
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