At the end of last month, U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., continued his focus on cryptocurrency, bringing back two bills to “help prevent virtual currency price manipulation and position the United States to be a leader in the cryptocurrency industry.”
At the start of 2019, Soto introduced the “Virtual Currency Consumer Protection Act” and the “U.S. Virtual Currency Market and Regulatory Competitiveness Act” which, he said, “will analyze what can be done to protect consumers from price manipulation and ensure America remains a global leader in fostering innovation in this evolving global marketplace.”
Soto brought the bills back last month and weighed in on why he was continuing to champion them.
“Virtual currencies and the underlying blockchain technology have a profound potential to be a driver of economic growth. That’s why we must ensure that the United States is at the forefront of protecting consumers and the financial well-being of virtual currency investors, while also promoting an environment of innovation to maximize the potential of these technological advances,” said Soto. “These bills will provide data on how Congress can best mitigate these risks while propelling development that benefits our economy.”
Soto’s “Virtual Currency Consumer Protection Act” will have the “Commodity Futures Trading Commission to describe how price manipulation could happen in virtual markets and make recommendations for regulatory changes to improve the CFTC’s price manipulation prevention procedures.” U.S. Reps. Tedd Budd, R-NC, Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, and Ro Khanna, D-Calif., are co-sponsoring the bill.
The “U.S. Virtual Currency Market and Regulatory Competitiveness Act” would have the CFTC “conduct a comparative study of the regulation of virtual currency in other countries and make recommendations for regulatory changes to promote competitiveness in the U.S. by providing regulatory clarity and examining alternatives for current burdensome regulations that may inhibit innovation.” U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., joined Budd, Davidson and Khanna as co-sponsors of the bill.
Soto’s office offered some of the rationales behind the bills.
“They direct the CFTC and other financial regulators to make critical recommendations to improve the regulatory environment for both the consumer and business development sides. These pieces of legislation are crucial in light of concerns raised in the New York Attorney General’s recent report on virtual exchanges’ risk of manipulation and the Wall Street Journal’s description of potentially abusive software of bots manipulating the price of Bitcoin,” Soto’s office noted.
“These bills have been introduced in the past two congressional sessions and have had success through the appropriations process. First, funding increases of $3 million to LABCFTC were included in the final FY20 appropriations package, included below, and signed into law. Additionally, report language based on portions of these bills was also included in the final FY20 appropriations package and resulted in a subsequent report by the CFTC. The language directs the commission to prepare a report on how to better protect virtual currency investors and promote American competitiveness in the realm of cryptocurrency,” Soto’s office continued, before offering a tip of the cap to U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson-Coleman, D-NJ, for her help in the appropriations process.
Soto’s bills were sent to the U.S. House Agriculture and the Financial Services Committees. There is no companion bill in the U.S. Senate for either proposal.
First elected to Congress in 2016 after serving in both chambers of the Florida Legislature, Soto has been active on technology issues during his time on Capitol Hill. He co-chairs the New Democrat Coalition’s Technology Task Force and is a co-chair of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus. He is also part of the Democratic leadership as an assistant regional whip.
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