The House of Representatives’ consideration of two significant crypto bills has likely shifted into early 2024, according to U.S. Rep. French Hill, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee’s subcommittee that focuses on digital assets. The bills aim to regulate U.S. stablecoin issuers and form a broad system of rules for crypto markets. The efforts still face an uphill climb in the Senate, where Democrats have control. Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) also suggested that the stablecoin bill will make more progress next year. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), who has also occupied a leading role in the House negotiations for both bills, suggested the industry needs to counter what House Democrats are hearing from outside groups and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler, a dedicated critic of the industry.
The House Republicans’ recent fight over installing a new speaker delayed the floor time lawmakers needed for the legislation, and this setback has likely pushed the crypto bills into early 2024. The delay was due to the fight over installing a new speaker, which ensnared key crypto negotiator Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) as stand-in speaker for a time.
The Senate Democrats, including Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who runs the Senate Banking Committee, have been tough to convince, and Brown’s banking committee has been a tough nut to crack. But the fact that the U.S. Department of the Treasury recently came forward with crypto illicit-finance policy proposals is a good sign that the administration is now willing to negotiate, which could nudge the Senate Democrats, too.
The industry needs to keep educating people about cryptocurrency, as not many people care about it, according to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who has partnered with Lummis on crypto legislation. Passing laws takes time, she warned the industry crowd.
Hill argues that the implosion of FTX last year and the recent massive settlement and criminal conviction of Binance, which may give some lawmakers pause about the sector, should actually encourage pursuit of the legislation. He said each example of bad behavior “only reinforces that we need to do this and do it the right way.” Having no regulations in place “is what’s going to advantage illicit finance.”
In practical terms, even if a crypto bill passes the House next year, it still needs approval in the Senate and a presidential signature. That may require plugging it into a more complex package and attaching it to must-move legislation, such as a spending bill.