House Republicans form panel to shape crypto policy

The subcommittee plans to set rules and foster the technology.

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Now that Republicans have control of the House of Representatives, they're hoping to set the agenda for crypto. Financial Services committee Chair Patrick McHenry (above) has announced a Subcommittee on Digital Assets, Financial Technology and Inclusion that aims to set policy for technologies like cryptocurrency. Headed by Rep. French Hill, the panel hopes to establish "clear rules of the road" for federal regulators, create policies that bring financial technology to poorly served communities and bolster diversity and inclusiveness in digital assets.

In an interview with Politico, McHenry said he was creating the subcommittee to address a "big hole" in Financial Services' approach to crypto issues. McHenry considers crypto regulation his main legislative priority, and panel chair Hill has led the GOP's investigation of a potential central bank-backed cryptocurrency.

The move comes as regulators struggle to find common ground on crypto. While agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) agree that digital assets are subject to existing laws, there have been tussles over just who should step in and when. Senators put forward a bill that would create a clear regulatory framework, but it has been stuck in committee.

There's pressure on the House subcommittee to act. The implosion of crypto giant FTX has underscored the risks of letting the technology go unchecked. Officials are also investigating major industry names like Celsius and Coinbase over possible rule violations. Clearer rules would theoretically improve the federal government's responses to violations like these.

It's uncertain how effective the House panel will be. While there are crypto proponents across both main parties, the Democrats' expanded control of the Senate could prevent bills from becoming law if there are any substantial disagreements. Both sections of Congress have to pass and reconcile legislation before it reaches the President's desk. The very existence of the subcommittee suggests that Congress is taking crypto more seriously, however, and there's a chance it could accelerate bipartisan efforts to oversee digital money and tokens.