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Crypto’s dream speaker

Presented by Electronic Payments Coalition: Delivered daily by 8 a.m., Morning Money examines the latest news in finance politics and policy.
Oct 24, 2023 View in browser

By Jasper Goodman and Zachary Warmbrodt

Presented by

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Before Friday, the House speaker fight looked like it could be another blow to the beleaguered crypto lobby, slowing down industry-backed legislation from reaching the floor.

Then came Rep. Tom Emmer.

The Minnesota Republican, who late last week became the leading contender to be House speaker, has been Capitol Hill’s top crypto advocate for years, championing the industry well before most members of Congress took it seriously. House Republicans will hold an election for Emmer and other speaker candidates this morning.

Emmer’s candidacy has opened the door to an unexpected win for crypto. It’s giving lobbyists a new reason to be hopeful as they face a barrage of bad news from the fraud trial of Sam Bankman-Fried and growing Hamas-related money laundering scrutiny.

Emmer “is the quintessential champion” of crypto, said Cody Carbone, vice president of policy at the Chamber of Digital Commerce. “He has been the face of the industry in Washington.”

The former ice hockey player and coach is a bit of an unlikely crypto hero. But he has taken a lead role on the issue for much of his time in Congress, serving as co-chair of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus and introducing several digital currency bills. He has been a fierce critic of SEC Chair Gary Gensler’s crypto crackdown and has led work on legislation to block a government-run central bank digital currency. House Financial Services Chair Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), currently serving as acting speaker pro tempore, called Emmer "an OG" of the digital asset space.

Emmer told our Declan Harty last month that “the majority of the bad guys today are in cash” and that crypto represents “the next iteration of the Internet.” Emmer raised the sixth-most crypto cash of any member of Congress in the 2022 election cycle, according to the campaign finance nonprofit OpenSecrets.

An Emmer speakership — a big if, despite his frontrunner status at the moment — would be a potential breakthrough in the crypto lobby’s long quest for legitimacy. It would hand the House’s loudest megaphone to a crypto ally at a moment when skeptics are driving the conversation.

“We need a countering voice to the White House and Elizabeth Warren,” Carbone said. “Having a speaker who’s willing to stick his neck out and support the industry and use his bully pulpit and his platform to advocate for us, I think that brings the debate to a more even playing field. And we’ve been missing that for so long.”

Crypto advocates also hope it would help ensure the House takes up digital asset legislation once the floor reopens.

"We are at the culmination of years of work that he has been about," McHenry said when House Financial Services voted on crypto bills in July.

Crypto lobbyists who spoke with MM said they aren’t actively lobbying on Emmer’s behalf, pointing to other friendly lawmakers in the running for the job, including Reps. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Byron Donalds (R-Fla.).

Happy Tuesday — MM would love to hear your thoughts on the new Community Reinvestment Act rules coming today: [email protected].


A message from Electronic Payments Coalition:

Don’t Let Durbin-Marshall Steal YOUR Data: Senators Dick Durbin and Roger Marshall introduced legislation allowing big-box retailers like Walmart and Target to process credit card transactions based solely on what is cheapest for them, disregarding YOUR data security. Durbin-Marshall would shift billions in consumer spending to higher-risk payment networks, weakening America’s payment system and putting consumers in a vulnerable position. Last year, Congress wisely rejected a similar Durbin-Marshall bill, and they must do so again.

Driving the day

House Republicans plan to vote on speaker candidates … The Federal Reserve Board will propose changes to Community Reinvestment Act rules at 9:30 a.m. … House Financial Services holds a subcommittee hearing on insurance costs at 2 p.m. … House Financial Services postponed two SEC and “regulatory overreach” hearings it had planned for today

U.S., China kick off economic meetings – Senior officials from the Treasury Department and China’s Ministry of Finance held the first meeting of their new Economic Working Group on Monday.

Treasury’s readout: “The delegations met virtually for two hours and had a productive and substantive discussion on topics including domestic and global macroeconomic developments. U.S. officials also frankly raised areas of concern.”

A parallel Financial Working Group will have its first meeting Wednesday.

First in MM: McHenry launches Basel inquiry — House Financial Services Chair Patrick McHenry and Rep. Andy Barr are asking the watchdog arm of Congress to dig into how U.S. regulators have influenced the drafting of international bank capital standards at the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.

McHenry and Barr requested that GAO seek proposals that U.S. agencies made to the Basel Committee while developing the Basel III Endgame standard as well as any concerns the agencies raised.

McHenry and Barr have criticized the way U.S. regulators have proposed implementing the standards domestically.

“These requirements would fundamentally change the policy of the U.S. banking system,” they said in a Friday letter to GAO. “Yet, Congress has very little insight into the basis of such policy changes.”

Personnel is policy Jon Donenberg, longtime policy adviser to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, is joining the White House National Economic Council. He’s expected to take over the portfolio of departing Warren alum Bharat Ramamurti, including competition, junk fees, financial regulations, tech policy and student debt relief.

NEC Director Lael Brainard said in a statement: “Jon brings a breadth of experience and a steadfast commitment to building an economy from the bottom up and middle out. His previous work on competition, consumer protection and financial regulation makes him well equipped for this role.”


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On the Hill

Speaker vote prepThe latest Republicans vying for speaker, including a handful of Financial Services members, are all men who have gained notoriety via messaging and electoral work rather than major legislative achievements, our Anthony Adragna reports.

Our Huddle colleagues have a breakdown of how the House GOP’s secret ballot will work this morning. Among the scenarios is a potential Ross Perot moment where a spoiler could swing the race once it gets down to three candidates. Some Republicans expect the field will condense after two or three ballots, with possibly Emmer, Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma and Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana having the most votes.


A message from Electronic Payments Coalition:


Treasurys went there — The yield on the 10-year Treasury note hit 5 percent for the first time in 16 years on Monday before reversing and settling at 4.836 percent, per the WSJ. The 10-year yield impacts interest rates across the economy.

“The question is: Is a 5 percent 10-year the type of number that breaks the U.S. economy?” said Scott Kimball, chief investment officer at Loop Capital Management. “Probably not, but you’re going to be in that yellow” caution zone, he added, according to the Journal.


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Fly Around

People moves Ryan Hubbard is now special assistant to the president for economic agency personnel. He most recently was White House liaison at NASA. (h/t Daniel Lippman) … Matthew Douglas has been promoted to SVP for mortgage policy at the Housing Policy Council …


A message from Electronic Payments Coalition:

CONGRESS: Don’t Let Durbin-Marshall Steal YOUR Data:
Cyber-attacks against consumers are on the rise, with large retailers like Target falling victim to breaches that expose customer information to hackers and foreign countries.

Now, mega-retailers like Walmart and Target want to leave you even more vulnerable to credit card cyber-attacks so they can pocket billions of dollars in additional profits.

After Senator Dick Durbin passed similar routing mandates for debit cards in 2010, the fraud rate for debit cards increased by NEARLY 60%. A similar outcome for credit cards would likely cost OVER $6 BILLION in additional fraud and likely require passing much of the bill onto consumers.

Last year, Congress wisely rejected a similar Durbin-Marshall bill, and they should do so again. Congress must protect consumers, preserve the integrity of the payment ecosystem, and reject this detrimental and unnecessary government intervention into the U.S. payment system.


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Crypto’s dream speaker


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