Breaking: Key US House Committee Leaders Challenges Federal Reserve on Stablecoin

The House Financial Services Committee’s top brass, including Chairman Patrick McHenry (NC-10), Vice Chairman French Hill (AR-02), and Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, Bill Huizenga (MI-04), have formally expressed their concerns to the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) regarding its recent regulatory moves on payment stablecoins.

In a letter addressed to Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, the trio voiced their objections to the Fed’s recent supervision and regulation letters, specifically “Creation of Novel Activities Supervision Program” (SR 23-7) and “Supervisory Nonobjection Process for State Member Banks Seeking to Engage in Certain Activities Involving Dollar Tokens” (SR 23-8), both issued on August 8, 2023. The committee members believe these actions could potentially undermine the progress Congress has made in establishing a regulatory framework for payment stablecoins.

The letter highlights Congress’s understanding of the need for regulatory clarity in the digital asset ecosystem, emphasizing the “Clarity for Payment Stablecoins Act” as a bipartisan effort to provide such clarity. However, the Fed’s issuance of SR 23-7 and SR 23-8, shortly after the Committee’s endorsement of the aforementioned act, has raised eyebrows.

The committee members argue that the Fed’s actions, particularly through SR 23-7 and SR 23-8, seem to deter banks from issuing payment stablecoins or even participating in the stablecoin ecosystem. They further assert that the “Novel Activities Supervision Program” under SR 23-7 appears to impose additional regulatory burdens on banking institutions engaging with crypto-assets. This, combined with previous policy statements and decisions by the Fed, could lead to an implicit prohibition on banks’ involvement in the digital asset ecosystem.

Furthermore, the committee members pointed out that the Fed did not follow the notice and comment process as mandated by the Administrative Procedure Act when issuing SR 23-7 and SR 23-8. They view this as an attempt by the Fed to set policy without being accountable to market participants and the public.

Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Patrick McHenry has been aggressively working to protect laws governing digital assets because he believes that organisations like the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, and the IRS are undermining these laws. He criticised the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the requirements for reporting digital assets that was released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury on August 26, 2023 as a result of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. He referred to this as yet another effort by the Biden government to damage the American digital asset ecosystem and encouraged the government to work together with Congress to provide clear laws for the sector.

Widespread criticism has been levelled at the Treasury and IRS’s proposed rules, which would require brokers to disclose sales and swaps of digital assets made by their clients. The Tax Law Centre at NYU Law has also voiced its worries and warned of possible financial repercussions over the delay in adopting these measures.

In conclusion, as the ecosystem for digital assets develops, the struggle between Congress and regulatory agencies highlights the need for a well-defined strategy that protects both consumers and market players while ensuring the industry’s expansion.

Image source: Shutterstock

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