US Congress remains legislatively paralyzed on crypto bills without a House speaker
No piece of legislation — crypto-related or otherwise — has largely been able to move through the United States Congress since Oct. 3, when lawmakers voted to oust then-Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy. This marks the first time in U.S. history that the legislative body has been without elected leadership, with no definitive plan to fill the slot.
At the time of publication, there are several candidates in the running for the third most powerful role in the U.S. government, but it’s unclear if any of them have enough support from Republican lawmakers — the political party currently holding the majority of seats in the House — to win. Following Speaker McCarthy, Representative Steve Scalise won a majority of Republican votes in a closed-door session, but he later dropped out, leaving the door open for Representative Jim Jordan to attempt a run.
Jordan went through three rounds of voting — losing more support from his Republican colleagues with each round — before the party voted him out as their nominee in a closed-door meeting. This effectively means the speaker’s position is open to anyone, Democrat or Republican, with no clear path forward. All Democrats present for the three rounds voted unanimously for Representative Hakeem Jeffries, the House minority leader.
Patrick McHenry, chair of the House Financial Services Committee and interim speaker following McCarthy’s ousting, may be a candidate for the full-time role. Preoccupied with his duties as temporary Speaker, McHenry could see Representative French Hill step into the role of leading the Financial Services Committee, overseeing legislation on digital assets and otherwise. Tom Emmer, another crypto-friendly lawmaker, said on Oct. 20 that he planned to seek the speaker seat, drumming up support from some of his Republican colleagues — reportedly including McCarthy.
1) This week in Congress and crypto: Another week of House Speaker drama and intense focus on Israel/Hamas. For crypto there is a lot of tangental elements on both issues. Many of the speaker candidates have a strong record on crypto so let's quickly meet them and fights to come.— Ron Hammond (@RonwHammond) October 23, 2023
“If the [Republicans] can’t get a consensus on a clear candidate, it is likely McHenry will remain temp speaker,” said the Blockchain Association’s director of government relations, Ron Hammond, in an Oct. 23 X (formerly Twitter) thread. “[Representative Byron Donalds] is also in the race and he has also been a champion for crypto legislation on a variety of fronts with a particular bent on oversight of the current Admin. [Representative Pete Sessions] is another pro-crypto candidate who has been a champion on issues like bitcoin mining.”
“In the Speaker race there are several pro-crypto candidates. [Tom Emmer] is the frontrunner, but as the past few weeks have shown it is far from a guarantee he will become Speaker.”
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The lack of a speaker effectively halts progress on crypto bills passed by the Financial Services Committee, which had been expected to head for a full floor vote. The Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century Act, the Blockchain Regulatory Certainty Act, the Clarity for Payment Stablecoins Act and the Keep Your Coins Act are all legislatively on hold until a speaker is voted in.
Though the House is “legislatively in a standstill,” according to Hammond, certain lawmakers have still moved forward with pushing anti-crypto policies within their power. More than 100 members of the House and Senate signed their names to a letter calling for action from the White House in addressing the role cryptocurrency may play in financing terrorism. The statement followed Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7.
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