Tom Emmer, majority whip of the United States House of Representatives and crypto proponent, says that digital assets have become a “sleeper issue” in U.S. politics, both at the state and federal levels.
Speaking to EdaFace at the Permissionless II conference in Austin, Texas on Sept. 11, Emmer said certain candidates running for office in 2024 may underestimate the impact of issues surrounding crypto and blockchain. He pointed to financial privacy concerns, specifically mentioning government oversight of central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs.
“It’s politically potent regardless of your political persuasion,” said Emmer. “Democrats, Republicans and others believe that your personal information is supposed to be yours, and you get to choose when you get to share it.”
According to Emmer, there is a generational divide in the U.S. in which residents could push back on policies that potentially inhibit the digital space and, in doing so, “flush out” technologically ignorant lawmakers. At least three candidates from both major U.S. political parties have taken a public position on CBDCs for the 2024 race.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican polling second behind former president Donald Trump, promised in July to ban CBDCs in the U.S. should his campaign be successful. In May, he signed a Florida bill into law aimed at largely prohibiting the use of a federally issued digital dollar in the U.S. state. Other longshot candidates who have taken positions opposing CBDCs include Republican Vivek Ramaswamy and Democrat Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
“We have a whole host of laws and regulations that say when you have to disclose, what you have to disclose, but it shouldn’t be just a blanket [statement on CBDCs],” said Emmer. “[The U.S. government] can do a central bank digital currency if it’s open, permissionless and private. It has to emulate cash.”
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Emmer has reintroduced a bill aimed at limiting the Federal Reserve from issuing a CBDC in the United States. He has also backed an appropriations amendment for the Securities and Exchange Commission’s funds, which could reduce the commission’s ability to follow through with enforcement actions on crypto firms.
On Sept. 20, the House Financial Services Committee will meet in a markup session for the Digital Dollar Pilot Prevention Act — legislation that could prohibit the Fed from initiating CBDC pilot programs without approval from Congress. The committee discussed CBDCs in a Sept. 14 hearing for the first time since Congress’ August recess.
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