We’re constantly told that the US political system is hopelessly polarized, and that there aren’t any issues that can reliably garner bipartisan support. This dynamic seems entrenched, especially when Democrats and Republicans view members of the opposite party more and more harshly, year after year. Coupled with the looming presidential election and the rising political temperature that the contest brings, a casual observer might despair that structural polarization in the US is too difficult to overcome.
The good news is that — behind the depressing headlines — there are in fact surprising areas of real bipartisan cooperation. And, in one of the more hopeful moments from the past summer, an ostensibly unlikely object of bipartisan consensus emerged: the promise of crypto regulation. Multiple crypto-focused bills were voted out of their respective committees in the House of Representatives, setting up a full floor vote on these pieces of legislation in the House this fall.
Needless to say, this was a major milestone for the crypto industry — this is the first time any crypto-focused regulatory bills moved out of committee. And importantly, the bills mostly drew bipartisan support in those committees.
While that spirit of collaboration doesn’t guarantee the bills will be voted on to the Senate, it’s clear that there is growing bipartisan consensus that Congress needs to act upon.
The debate that pushed these crypto bills out of their committees was illuminating, most strikingly for the common sense perspective that many members espoused in their remarks. Representative Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., one of crypto’s stalwart defenders in the House, put it simply that the status quo of our current regulatory regime is failing. And in his effort to pass crypto legislation, Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., noted that this regulation was need in the interest of consumer protection and American innovation.
While these bills are not yet perfect, it’s clear that sticking with the current system — marked by harsh enforcement actions that confuse the everyday user and depress innovation — will not hold.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission’s recent losses in its crusade against crypto demonstrate that even the industry’s antagonists may soon come to the same conclusion. The sooner crypto’s critics realize a bipartisan crypto consensus is emerging, the better.
Read more from our opinion section: Crypto rights are fundamental American rights
There’s a good reason for this: Crypto, by its nature as a technology, isn’t partisan. It’s a universal tool that has the potential to change how people live, work and play. Crypto’s universal aspect means that there is something for everyone to like; if you care about the overbearing power of the traditional banking and tech sectors have over our lives, crypto holds a solution; if you are worried about internet censorship and free speech, crypto has an answer; if you simply want to utilize a safe path for donations in times of disaster or for international causes, crypto can solve that too.
While the broader crypto market has endured a tumultuous year-long rollercoaster ride since the collapse of FTX, it’s notable that, even amid that uncertainty, roughly 20% of American adults own crypto. It’s clear that crypto is no longer a niche issue and that enough of our representative’s constituents use, own and engage with crypto that bipartisan forces of Congress should be paying attention.
While the fates of the bills in question are uncertain, we should be encouraged to have made it to this point — at the cusp of a House-wide vote to demonstrate just how much Congressional support for crypto policy has grown, and how much work there is left to do.
Molly Jane Zuckerman is the opinion editor at Blockworks. She previously led educational content at CoinMarketCap and ran the news desk at Cointelegraph. Molly Jane is now based in New York after almost a decade in Russia, and can talk your ear off about Russia lit and detective novels. Contact Molly Jane: [email protected]
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