Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson (PA-15), Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, delivered the following opening remarks at today's full committee hearing entitled, “The Future of Digital Assets: Providing Clarity for Digital Asset Spot Markets”
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
"Good morning, and welcome to our full committee hearing on the future of digital assets. Thank you to our esteemed panels of witnesses for making the time to be with us today. Indeed, this is a rare opportunity to have so many established current and former regulators in one room.
"Chairman Behnam we appreciate you, and your colleagues on the second panel, for providing us with your expertise, knowledge, and thoughtful feedback on how Congress should develop a viable regulatory framework for digital assets.
"It is no secret blockchain technology and digital assets hold real promise. From improving our banking and financial services, to providing data privacy and improving supply chain logistics, these technologies have the potential to transform everyday lives for Americans.
"As we look to put up clear guardrails for digital assets, it is important consumers and market participants benefit from the same longstanding customer protections found in traditional financial markets.
"For nearly a decade, Congress has debated the treatment of digital assets, which has led to numerous hearings, bill introductions, and panel discussions, all trying to bring regulatory certainty and clarity to these novel technologies.
"These past activities have helped move the needle forward, but further thoughtful coordination between committees and members is required.
"At the outset, I need thank Chairman McHenry for his leadership and willingness to collaborate on this novel and challenging topic.
"Late last year we agreed to embark on a joint effort to work collaboratively and craft a comprehensive digital asset market structure framework.
"We set our eyes to a bold plan, but one that was driven by logical and sensible principles for digital asset regulation, led by fostering American innovation and bringing needed customer protections to digital asset-related activities and intermediaries.
"We sought to put forward the best policies we could, by developing them together.
"We held numerous member and staff education events, including one-on-one meetings, roundtables, and hearings, to bring folks up to speed on how current market structures for commodities and securities operate, how digital assets fit and do not fit into existing regulatory regimes, and why congressional action is needed.
"Last month, Subcommittee Chairman Dusty Johnson and Subcommittee Chairman French Hill held a joint subcommittee hearing—the first one on digital assets that we’re aware of – to examine digital assets with both our committees working together.
"From these events, it is not hard to conclude that current federal laws and regulations provide few rules of the road for those who want to engage with these emerging technologies, leading to complicated enforcement actions by regulators and creating further confusion in the industry and market.
"To address these concerns, Chairman McHenry and I went to work and developed an initial discussion draft providing the contours of a statutory framework for digital assets that was released last week.
"The discussion draft intends to provide certainty, fill regulatory gaps, and bolster innovation.
"But—and I cannot reiterate this enough—this is a draft and we plan to improve it through further vigorous debate, stakeholder feedback, and technical assistance.
"It is our intention to work with our Democratic colleagues on this proposal and continue this committee’s longstanding tradition of working in a bipartisan manner.
"It is our hope that we will have a bipartisan, joint committee legislative proposal.
"The United States has always been a leader in financial and technological innovation. We have the most liquid and robust markets in the world.
"It is incumbent on us to not miss this opportunity and bring certainty to digital asset markets.
"Other nations, like the European Union, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom, have already put pen to paper and have created frameworks and established themselves as hubs for the development of the digital asset ecosystem.
"It is time that we do our work here in the United States too, and build a framework for trusted, reliable, and useful markets for digital assets.
"Before I close, I do want to address one more elephant in the room.
"Earlier today, the SEC filed a complaint against one of our witnesses, Coinbase.
"While I will not and cannot speak to any of the specific allegations against the company, I do want to note that this action is exactly why we are holding our hearing today.
"Regulation by enforcement is not an appropriate way to govern a market, adequately protect customers, or promote innovation. I hope that the members of our committee can work together to pull together a better framework for digital asset regulation that promotes customer protections, provides clear lines of authorities to regulators, and allows the regulated to clearly understand their obligations under the law.
"Again, thank you to each of our witnesses for their willingness to partake in today’s hearing. I look forward to our conversation."