Is U.S. Congress clueless about crypto?

Last week the folks on Capitol Hill made a few headlines and stirred up a Twitter storm. Well, at least Congressman Brad Sherman, a Democrat from California did that with his statement that all crypto and mining should be banned, thus provoking the crypto community into meeting his remark with total outrage online. This was a unique event in itself as the crypto sphere is known for its sniping and clashes. However, Sherman brought them all together.

Whilst Brad Sherman’s message tended to dominate the press reports, for obvious reasons as it makes a good story, other headlines didn’t do much to instil any sense that Congress has finally understood what cryptocurrency and the blockchain world is all about. In fact, to some onlookers it appears as to be the case that Congress is more hostile to crypto now than it was five years ago. For

example, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said cryptocurrencies are “great if you’re trying to hide or launder money,” at a separate hearing on the same day Sherman made his astonishing statement. Perhaps he didn’t notice that the FBI had indicted 12 Russians for trying to tamper with the U.S. elections and that the FBI achieved this by tracing the conspirators bitcoin transactions. So much for that argument Mr Powell!

Were things better in 2013?

Let’s remember that when Congress discussed crypto towards the end of 2013, Jennifer Shasky Calvery, then-director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), told bitcoin exchanges and wallets to register with FinCEN and people took this a positive sign. In fact, as Coindesk points out, Calvery’s invitation boosted bitcoin’s price in December 2013 to just over $1,100.

Beyond the big headlines

Of course there is danger in focusing too much on big headlines from the Congress hearings and not looking into the progress that has been made. For instance, regulatory understanding has moved forward even if it hasn’t arrived at an end point that everyone is happy with. Law firms are heavily engaged with it and some staff at the SEC, the Commodity Futures Exchange Commission and other agencies are much more comfortable with the crypto industry than five years ago. In a massive bureaucracy things were never going to move at lightning speed.

And things will keep moving forward. Why? Because there are too many people and too much money engaged and invested in this industry for anyone in politics and policymaking to ignore it completely. In the end those who understand crypto and its potential will outnumber people like Sherman and Powell and we’ll have a Congress that isn’t so clueless.

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