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US Lawmakers Clash Over Token Classification and Proposed Crypto Bills in Congressional Hearing

The House Financial Services Committee convened on Tuesday afternoon for a crucial discussion on the future of crypto market regulation. Titled “The Future of Digital Assets: Providing Clarity for the Digital Asset Ecosystem,” the hearing featured representatives from the crypto industry and legal experts, shedding light on the ongoing efforts to navigate the regulatory landscape.

One of the central themes of the hearing was the classification of crypto tokens and their integration into the existing regulatory framework. Republican committee members emphasized the need for increased involvement from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). This stance surprised Rep. Maxine Waters, a Democrat from California, who acknowledged the strong advocacy for the CFTC from her Republican colleagues.

Coy Garrison, a partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP and former counsel to SEC Commissioner Hester M. Peirce, highlighted the roles of both the CFTC and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in shaping crypto regulation. Garrison stressed the importance of congressional clarity in resolving the legal and regulatory complexities surrounding digital assets. He cautioned against oversimplifying the classification of digital assets as securities or non-securities, emphasizing the need for a nuanced approach.

Garrison stated during his prepared testimony that applying the Howey test to digital assets is not always straightforward, but it is crucial to establish a clear process for determining which crypto assets should be treated as securities.

On the other side of the debate, Rep. David Scott, a Democrat from Georgia, argued in favor of utilizing existing securities laws. He contended that crypto companies and token issuers already have sufficient guidance from previously passed legislation and SEC policies. Scott voiced his concerns about a discussion draft being reviewed by the committee, criticizing it for potentially undermining the fundamental approach to security laws and shifting power to the CFTC instead of the SEC.

The timing of the hearing was significant, as it occurred just one day after Reps. Warren Davidson, a Republican from Ohio, and House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, a Republican from Minnesota and both members of the Financial Services Committee, introduced the SEC Stabilization Act. This proposed bill suggests restructuring the SEC by replacing the position of the chair, currently held by Gary Gensler, with an “executive director.” Davidson and Emmer also propose adding a sixth SEC commissioner to the existing five, including Gensler, who are nominated by the president and approved by the Senate.

During the hearing, Davidson expressed his appreciation for the innovation happening in the United States and voiced a desire to retain some of it within the country. He challenged the notion that the existing framework and laws are sufficient, pointing to Gensler’s inability to definitively answer whether ether should be classified as a security.

The hearing marked an important step in the ongoing discussions on crypto market regulation. As lawmakers grapple with the challenges posed by digital assets, it remains to be seen how the debate over token classification and proposed bills will shape the future of the crypto industry and the regulatory environment surrounding it.

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