On September 12, 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bi-partisan virtual currency resolution, House Resolution 835 (H.R. 835), sponsored by Representatives Adam Kinzinger (R), Tony Cardenas (D), and Randy Hultgren (R). Congress has expressly recognized that blockchain technology will impact a wide variety of industries:
Whereas blockchain technology with the appropriate protections has the potential to fundamentally change the manner in which trust and security are established in online transactions through various potential applications in sectors including financial services, payments, health care, energy, property management, and intellectual property management.
Upon introduction in the House in July, the resolution was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. There, Representative Michael Burgess (R) "[e]xpress[ed] the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should adopt a national policy for technology to promote consumers' access to financial tools and online commerce to promote economic growth and consumer empowerment." The resolution was virtually unanimous, as the House voted 385 yeas, 4 nays, 42 not voting, and 0 absent after nearly forty minutes of debate. Pursuant to the provisions of clause 8, rule XX, the House Speaker Pro Tempore announced that further proceedings on the motion would be postponed, signaling a likelihood that H.R. 835 will be addressed again in the 115th Congress following the upcoming presidential election.
U.S. House of Representatives Debate and Passing of H.R. 835
Even though we are likely a long way from comprehensive federal virtual currency legislation, it is promising for the virtual currency and blockchain community that legislators are signaling bi-partisan efforts to pass statutes to ensure that consumers obtain the full benefit of these innovations. Indeed, when addressing the House floor, Representative Kinzinger stated that he introduced H.R. 835 to “highlight the importance of supporting a growing industry at the intersection of consumer finance and technology otherwise known as fintech” with the purpose of ensuring “the United States is competitively positioned to leverage this next wave of technology for the economy and consumers’ benefits.” Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have addressed virtual currency and blockchain technology during their presidential campaigns. Hopefully, the next President and Congress will move swiftly to pass comprehensive legislation that accomplishes the goals set forth in H.R. 835.