A “disastrous” amendment backed by President Joe Biden and proposed by Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Mark Warner (D-VA) could crush the cryptocurrency industry, lawmakers and industry officials say.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) proposed a $30 billion “pay for” in the $1.2 trillion, 2,702-page so-called “bipartisan” infrastructure bill. The provision contains an overly broad definition of a “broker” that many industry officials say could stifle innovation and send many American jobs overseas.
To address the issues surrounding Portman’s proposal, Sens. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) proposed an amendment that would address the concerns by stipulating that digital asset miners, who maintain the digital asset networks, and the creators of software and hardware used to self-custody digital assets, are not subject to IRS reporting requirements.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), the ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, also backed the Lummis-Wyden proposal.
However, despite the cryptocurrency industry’s strong support for the Lummis-Wyden-Toomey amendment, Portman and Warner proposed an alternative amendment that would address all issues with Portman’s original provision.
Jerry Brito, the executive director of the cryptocurrency think tank Coin Center, said the Portman-Warner amendment is “disastrous” and does not exclude software developers from onerous brokerage reporting requirements:
Wow. Sen. Warner and Portman are proposing a last minute amendment competing with the Wyden-Lummis-Toomey amendment. It is a disastrous. It only excludes proof-of-work mining. And it does nothing for software devs. Ridiculous!
Here is all it excludes: pic.twitter.com/FA7K6NU2s0
— Jerry Brito (@jerrybrito) August 5, 2021
Brito said the Portman-Warner amendment would only exclude proof-of-work mining, which is used for bitcoin mining, and not proof-of-stake mining, which is used for Ethereum. Ethereum is the second most popular digital currency after Bitcoin.
Senators need to vote YES on Wyden-Lummis-Toomey, vote NO on Warner-Portman.
— Jerry Brito (@jerrybrito) August 5, 2021
The Blockchain Association also noted the amendment would compete with the Lummis-Wyden amendment and thus split Senate support for the Lummis-Wyden amendment:
🚨URGENT. Senators Warner and Portman are proposing a last-minute amendment competing with the @RonWyden–@SenLummis–@SenToomey amendment which would be disastrous for the US #crypto ecosystem. Save #crypto. Vote YES on Wyden-Lummis-Toomey amendment.
— Blockchain Association (@BlockchainAssn) August 6, 2021
Toomey affirmed how “disastrous” the Portman-Warner amendment could be for the cryptocurrency industry.
“He’s right,” Toomey said about Brito’s criticisms.
He’s right. https://t.co/RwT2eU7Sc2
— Senator Pat Toomey (@SenToomey) August 6, 2021
The Biden White House announced they would support the Portman-Warner proposal over the industry’s favored Lummis-Wyden amendment:
Late breaking – White House is coming out formally in support of Warner-Portman-Sinema crypto amendment, implicitly against the Toomey-Wyden-Lummis plan
— Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) August 6, 2021
Reps. Ted Budd (R-NC), Warren Davidson (R-OH), Tom Emmer (R-MN), Darren Soto (R-FL), William Timmons (R-SC), and Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) urged their Senate colleagues to back the Lummis-Wyden-Toomey amendment to “ensure innovation continues to thrive in America.”
We want the next generation of digital banking to built right here in the USA, not pushed overseas.
The amendment from @SenLummis, @SenToomey, & @RonWyden is a positive step to ensure innovation continues to thrive in America. #Crypto #cryptocurrency pic.twitter.com/sPAYoKxEck
— Congressman Ted Budd (@RepTedBudd) August 5, 2021
Lummis urged her colleagues Thursday night to back her and Wyden’s amendment.
“Do what you say you’re going to do,” she charged. “Our amendment protects miners as well as hardware and software developers. The other does not. The choice is clear.”
Do what you say you’re going to do. Our amendment protects miners as well as hardware and software developers. The other does not. The choice is clear. https://t.co/111GtGz7C0
— Senator Cynthia Lummis (@SenLummis) August 6, 2021
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.