Senior U.S. House Republican Says CBDCs Could Be ‘Weaponized’ as Political Tool

Majority Whip Tom Emmer is seeking to halt the Federal Reserve’s ability to issue a new digital dollar.

AccessTimeIconMar 9, 2023 at 9:47 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 9, 2023 at 10:28 p.m. UTC

Majority Whip Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), the number 3 Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, is campaigning to stop what he argues is the intent of President Joe Biden’s administration to set up a digital dollar that could be deployed to collect information about citizens’ financial lives.

Emmer – a staunch ally of the crypto industry he said “can be very threatening to unelected bureaucrats” – is pushing legislation that would block the U.S. Federal Reserve from issuing a central bank digital currency (CBDC). The Treasury Department has encouraged work on a digital dollar, and the Fed is still in research mode on the project, officials have said as recently as this week.

“Recent actions from the Biden administration make it clear that they’re not only itching to create a digital dollar, but they’re willing to trade Americans’ right to financial privacy for surveillance-style CBDC,” Emmer told an audience at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington.

He argued Thursday that a government token could easily be “weaponized into a surveillance tool,” and the U.S. government could “program a CBDC to choke out politically unpopular activity.”


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Jesse Hamilton is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for global policy and regulation. He doesn't hold any crypto.

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