by Jerry Brito

How to tell if a (crypto) bill is important

Friends in the crypto community have been asking me about something called the “Crypto-Currency Act of 2020” that would, among other things, create a “Federal Digital Asset Regulator.” Here is a discussion draft that’s been floating around. Folks want to know if it’s something to be concerned about and whether it has any legs.

In the wider crypto community and the crypto press, there’s a tendency to treat all bills and all members of Congress as equivalent. They’re not. It’s one thing if the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee introduced a bill co-sponsored by the ranking member of that committee, and it’s another thing if it’s a freshman minority House member on the Veterans’ Affairs and Small Business committees who introduces a bill. So how do you know what’s high priority and what’s not? There’s not a single formula, but here’s the quick analysis I’d do on this particular bill.

First, has this bill been introduced? Or is it just an idea that may never be? Although the crypto press has reported that this bill has been introduced, it has not. A simple search of congress.gov will tell you that.

Then we look at who is the sponsor of the bill. In this case it seems to be Rep. Paul Gosar. We ask, is he on any of the committees to which this bill would be referred? I.e. House Financial Services Committee and the Committee on Agriculture (which oversees the CFTC)? The answer is no; he serves on the Natural Resources Committee and the Committee on Oversight and Reform. It’s difficult for a member to move a bill in a committee of which he’s not a member, doubly so if he’s in the minority as is Gosar. Here’s a pretty good summary of the process.

Last, you might ask, who is the member? Is he especially senior in some other way that might make one pay special attention to the bill? In this case I am familiar with Rep. Gosar, but not because of any seniority. Here’s a New York Times article about him from this week, one from his last election, and one that gives a sense of how his colleagues might perceive him. Here’s a bonus one. By this point I’m not putting too much stock in the bill, even before I look at the text, which is a whole other analysis.

So why is Rep. Gosar working on this? I don’t know, but oftentimes members come to work on crypto driven by their staff’s interest, which by looking at Twitter seems to be the case here. Who is he relying on for advice? I don’t know, but I’ll note that he sponsored a panel discussion with “teenage Bitcoin millionaire” Erik Finman last year. As I said in yesterday’s post, a definite relevant trend in our work is the increasing number of voices in DC lobbying on crypto issues.