McHenry urges Senate to pass FIT21 crypto bill before election

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Outgoing United States Republican lawmaker Patrick McHenry has pressured the Senate to pass a key crypto-regulating bill before the November presidential election.

The Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century Act (FIT21) passed the House on May 22 with 71 Democrats and 208 Republicans in favor.

“This should be a wake-up call for the Senate that they need to get on with this,” the House Financial Services Chairman, who is retiring from Congress in January, told Bloomberg’s Balance of Power on May 30.

“They need to stay focused on getting policy here and get it done before the election.”

The bill opens the path for most cryptocurrencies to be classed as commodities and regulated under the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The crypto industry views the CFTC as a more pro-crypto regulator than the Securities and Exchange Commission — though the SEC would still have authority over cryptocurrencies that aren’t sufficiently decentralized.

McHenry said the first thing he heard from the Senate about FIT21 was shock over “the wide margin” it had passed the House. The bill saw opposition from the SEC and President Joe Biden.

“For us to pass that important bill FIT21 with a two-thirds vote of the House of Representatives in these divided times, it is a major statement.”

“We’re here to make serious policy,” he added. “We want to have a regulated form of digital assets and cryptocurrency here in the United States.”

Democrat Majority Leader Chuck Schumer heads the Senate’s 48 Democrats in caucus with all three of the chamber’s independents — compared to its 49 Republicans.

The Senate has no time constraints on when it must act on FIT21. A majority — 51 senators — must vote in favor for it to pass.

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McHenry said he’s been working with Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters to get a stablecoin bill passed for nearly two years and conceded it would need to be attached to a bigger piece of legislation to pass it through the Senate.

He knocked back the idea of tethering the stablecoin bill to the SAFER Banking Act, which gives cannabis companies greater access to financial services.

“I’m not in favor of the cannabis banking legislation that’s been put forth. I voted against it in the last two Congresses,” McHenry said.

He added Republicans would “pressure in the best way we can” to get Schumer and the Senate to prioritize passing a crypto bill.

The U.S. presidential elections are scheduled for Nov. 5.

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