Representative French Hill, Republican of Arkansas, left, speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on July 24, 2018.
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Republican lawmakers announced Thursday night the launch of a new subcommittee that will oversee the crypto and fintech industries, the first of its kind in the US, after a tumultuous period for digital currencies.
French Hill of Arkansas will chair the Subcommittee on Digital Assets, Financial Technology and Inclusion, which will serve as part of the House Financial Services Committee.
Hill, who was also named vice chair of the broader committee, said in a declaration that a bipartisan effort is needed for “FinTech innovation to flourish safely and effectively in the United States.”
The unregulated nature of the cryptocurrency industry emerged as a pressing concern late last year after the November crash of cryptocurrency exchange FTX. Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX, was arrested last month on fraud charges and released on $250 million bail while awaiting trial.
Hill has been an enthusiastic supporter of the crypto industry. In 2021, he co-sponsored the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) Study Act and said at the time that it is “important that the Federal Reserve does not delay its important work” on a potential CBDC.
In 2019, long before FTX became a household name, Hill signed a letter urging the IRS to refine its tax guidance for cryptocurrency users.
“Ambiguity prevents proper tax compliance,” the letter said.
Other Republican cryptocurrency advocates in Congress include Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota and Sen. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming.
Although Bankman-Fried operated out of the Bahamas, he was a skilled Washington broker who forged relationships with heavyweights like Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Rostin Benham, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. In the 2022 intermediate races, Bankman-Fried donated almost 40 million dollars in publicly disclosed contributions, mostly to Democrats. He and his associates donated to politicians in both sides of the hall.
Federal regulators have alleged that Bankman-Fried committed criminal campaign finance violations while carrying out a Fraud of 8,000 million dollars.
The FTX Collapse and the Bankman-Fried Collapse subsequent accusation they have provided Republicans like Emmer ample fodder to criticize the work of regulators. Emmer described the actions taken by Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler as “random and out of focus.”
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats have already begun to prepare your own efforts to oversee the crypto industry and dictate enforcement actions.
The SEC has increased its level of activity since FTX filed for bankruptcy. The Commission loaded crypto lender Genesis and crypto exchange Gemini with the unregistered sale and offer of securities on Thursday, the same day Hill announced the subcommittee.