Strong Words, Little Action: ICOs Draw Fire at US Congress Hearing

“Congress has a responsibility to ensure that investors are protected without unduly preventing growth.”

So said U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren of Illinois during a Wednesday hearing of the House Capital Markets, Securities and Investment Subcommittee, which met in the morning in Washington, D.C. Drawing a mix of academic and industry witnesses, the hearing highlighted the divergent viewpoints on the technology held by some of the members of Congress.

As is perhaps unsurprising, the hearing saw U.S. lawmakers strike both supportive and critical tones on cryptocurrency – one member called cryptocurrencies a “crock” in an opening statement while Rep. Tom Emmer, who appeared at a blockchain industry eventlast week, remarked that they constitute “a huge topic that cannot possibly be scratched even in five minutes.”

Yet ultimately, many subcommittee members expressed a commitment to strike a balance between oversight and the accommodation of technological innovation.

Many of the questions focused on the regulatory parameters in place in the U.S. today, with some of those queries aimed at Mike Lempres, chief legal and risk officer for Coinbase and the sole representative from a startup working in the exchange space. Lempres, who joined the company in early 2017, advocated for a balanced approach to regulating the space.

Indeed, some of the members voiced a strong appetite for tackling regulation through legislative acts.

Rep. Maloney, who is the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, explained that she is working on a cryptocurrency oversight bill that would cover exchanges that offer trading services for digital assets. And Rep. Bill Huizenga of Michigan, who is the chairman of the Capital Markets, Securities and Investment subcommittee, all but declared his intention to pursue some kind of legislative action.

“This panel, this Congress is not going to sit by idly with a lack of protection for investors.”

Constituent interest

Notably, one of the panel members highlighted the interest apparently being expressed back home in his Congressional district…

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