House's McHenry Says He Won't Seek Reelection, Costing Crypto a Top Ally

Rep. Patrick McHenry, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee who has shepherded crypto legislation this year, said he's decided not to run again next year.

AccessTimeIconDec 5, 2023 at 5:19 p.m. UTC
Updated Jan 26, 2024 at 3:45 p.m. UTC
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  • Patrick McHenry, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee that has been leading crypto legislation efforts in the House, said 2024 will be his final year in Congress.
  • His departure leaves some uncertainty for two key crypto bills that are facing potential House floor votes, though McHenry will still be around next year when they're expected to be considered for approval.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), arguably the crypto industry's most important advocate in the U.S. Congress, has decided not to seek another term, he announced in a post on X on Tuesday.

As McHenry, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, continues to shepherd two significant pieces of digital assets legislation toward floor votes in the House of Representatives, his decision could set a clock on getting that task accomplished. Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.), the chair of that panel's crypto-focused subcommittee, has already indicated that progress on the bills – one to regulate U.S. stablecoin issuers and one to establish rules for the wider crypto markets – will shift into the first months of next year.

"I will be retiring from Congress at the end of my current term," McHenry said, confirming news first reported by Politico. "I believe there is a season for everything and – for me – this season has come to an end. I look forward to what comes next for my family and me."

McHenry has been a central GOP negotiator for the stablecoin bill, which had nearly reached the finish line in talks with Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), the committee's ranking Democrat. Waters has indicated she's still willing to finish the work, and that legislation is widely seen as the most likely to win approval and potentially find success in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

The coming departure of the influential North Carolina lawmaker, famous for his bowties and known for a willingness to make pragmatic deals across the aisle, marks another twist in a political career that in recent weeks saw him suddenly ascend to the role as the House's acting speaker after his colleagues fired Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

"We have appreciated McHenry's approach to coalition building, willingness to work in a bipartisan nature and constructive engagement with industry," said Sheila Warren, CEO of the Crypto Council for Innovation, in a Tuesday statement. "He will be noticeably missed in Congress."

McHenry, who was facing the end of his tenure as committee chairman, will have until January of 2025 to complete his term. When a lawmaker announces he's leaving Congress, it can sometimes diminish his or her authority in negotiations.

“Chairman McHenry is a stalwart champion of innovation and the digital asset industry," said Blockchain Association CEO Kristin Smith. "His bipartisan approach to commonsense rules that improve the status quo and ensure that this technology develops on American soil is a prudent model for Congress as it considers future crypto-specific legislation. While we’re sad to see such an industry champion leave the House, we’re pleased to be able to work closely with the congressman for another 13 months.”

The industry still has a number of supporters among House Republicans, including Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) and Hill. But it also has powerful critics on the Senate side, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

UPDATE (December 5, 2023, 17:37 UTC): Adds McHenry's announcement.

UPDATE (December 5, 2023, 17:42 UTC): Adds a comment from the CEO of the Crypto Council for Innovation.

UPDATE (December 5, 2023, 18:46 UTC): Adds a comment from the Blockchain Association.

Edited by Nikhilesh De.

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Jesse Hamilton

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


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