US Congress Debates ICOs, Cryptocurrency Regulation in House Subcommittee Hearing
“I believe this is probably hello, not goodbye.”
Thus said Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) as he adjourned Wednesday’s US House Capital Markets, Securities, and Investment Subcommittee hearing, which was devoted to discussing cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings (ICOs), and whether the current regulatory framework adequately protects investors.
Huizenga was speaking to a group of academics and cryptocurrency industry representatives who had testified before the subcommittee, largely arguing that regulators need to clarify the legal status of cryptoassets to help entrepreneurs innovate while remaining compliant with federal rules.
As was the case in a recent Senate hearing on cryptocurrency regulation, lawmakers conveyed varying opinions about the value of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.
Some committee members harped on cryptocurrency’s alleged association with terrorism. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), for instance, called cryptocurrencies a “crock” and expressed doubt that they can be used to accomplish any social good that cannot be achieved otherwise.
Others, however, lauded ICOs and other blockchain-related fintech advancements and cautioned that hasty or overbearing regulations could threaten the country’s status as a fintech leader.
Similarly, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) — a member of the cryptocurrency-friendly Congressional Blockchain Caucus — criticized politicians for calling for new regulations without taking the time to research and develop an adequate understanding of the technology.
Overall though — as Huizenga remarked when he adjourned the meeting — this hearing largely served as a way to introduce lawmakers to the regulatory and operational climate in the nascent cryptcoasset space, particularly in regard to ICOs. This is not, one can be sure, the last time Congress will find itself discussing cryptocurrency regulation.
Featured image from Shutterstock.