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GOP Lawmaker: Janet Yellen’s Treasury Likely Behind Surprise Crypto Bill

Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota also criticizes the updated bipartisan infrastructure bill aiming to raise $28 billion via crypto taxes.

Aug 2, 2021 at 6:37 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 1:34 p.m. UTC

How did a Democratic congressman with no prior public stance on cryptocurrency suddenly propose a comprehensive bill to regulate it without help from lawmakers who have been working on the topic for years?

One Republican reckons someone in the Biden Administration must have put his colleague up to the task.

Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) speculated Monday that Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) proposed the sweeping bill on digital assets at the request of the Treasury Department.

“Don Beyer hasn’t been involved in this space at all that I know of,” said Emmer during an appearance on CoinDesk TV’s "First Mover," “and all of a sudden he comes out with this proposal that will give the [Federal Reserve] complete control over creating central bank digital currency with all kinds of related authority to it.”

“Call me suspicious if you want, but I think that sometimes someone at Janet Yellen’s Treasury would call a long-time ally like Don Beyer and say, ‘Look, we really need to push back on these Republicans,’” said Emmer, a member of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus.

Emmer’s comments echoed those of fellow Republican congressman, Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), but on a different bill. Davidson claimed in a Bitcoin Magazine interview that the Treasury Department had a hand in the crypto-related language found in the $1 trillion, bipartisan infrastructure bill winding through the U.S. Congress.

Beyer, chairman of Congress’ Joint Economic Committee and a member of the tax policy-making House Ways and Means Committee, introduced his bill Thursday just as Congress was weighing the infrastructure deal cobbled together between a group of Democratic and Republican senators. Critics of that proposal, which looks to gain roughly $28 billion in revenue from taxing the cryptocurrency industry, say its definition of what constitutes a crypto “broker” is too wide. Some revisions have been made to narrow that definition but many say it still goes too far.

When asked what revisions on the infrastructure bill he would recommend, Emmer replied that major infrastructure should not be paid for by taxing cryptocurrency as it is not related to the crypto space.

“This is a desperate attempt by a bunch of senators to try and find revenue from any source they can,” Emmer said of the plan.

A spokesperson for Beyer's office didn't respond to a list of questions from CoinDesk, including an inquiry on how the bill came together.

DISCLOSURE

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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