US Senate banking chair floats possibility of banning crypto

United States Banking Committee chairman Sherrod Brown has suggested that the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) should perhaps consider a ban on cryptocurrencies.

Brown’s comments were made during a Dec. 18 appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” although the senator quickly added that a ban would be difficult to enforce:

“We want them to do what they need to do at the same time, maybe banning it, although banning it is very difficult because it would go offshore, and who knows how that would work.”

In response to a host’s earlier question about Senator Jon Tester, who believes cryptocurrencies should be banned, Brown said thathe shares the “same thought.”

The Ohio representative saidthat over the last 18 months he has been “educating” his colleagues and the public on the dangers of cryptocurrencies, calling for imminent and aggressive action to be taken.

“I’ve already gone to the Treasury and the Secretary and asked for a government-wide assessment through all the various regulatory agencies [….] The SEC has been particularly aggressive, and we need to move forward that way and legislatively if it comes to that,” he added.

Brown cited FTX’s shock collapse as an example of why a ban may be worth considering but added it “is only one huge part of this problem.”

He argued cryptocurrencies are “dangerous” and a “threat to national security,” citing North Korean cybercriminal activity, drug trafficking, human trafficking and the financing of terrorism as some of the problems they’ve exacerbated.

The Banking Committee chairman has expressed his skepticism toward crypto for over a year now, having most recently voiced concerns on the matters of stablecoin issuance as well as cryptocurrency advertising and marketing campaigns.

Brown released a Nov. 30 statement calling for an “all-of-government” approach to regulate the industry and on Dec. 13 applauded the U.S. Department of Justice for filing criminal charges against former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, who’s currently behind bars in the Bahamas awaiting extradition to the U.S.

Related: US senator: There’s ‘no reason why’ crypto should exist

Not all of Senator Brown’s peers seem to share his thoughts.

Senator Tom Emmer stated on Nov. 23 that FTX’s fall wasn’t a “crypto failure” but rather a failure caused by centralized actors.

Emmer also holds the view that crippling regulation would stifle industry innovation in the U.S., causing it to lose its position of global market dominance — something that many believe to be already unfolding.

It should also be noted that the incoming chairman of the House Committee on Financial Service, Patrick McHenry, is pro-crypto. This week he called for a delay on crypto tax changes in order to seek more clarification on the original, “poorly drafted” tax provision.