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].