Crypto Industry’s $160 Million War Chest Could Shape US Senate Majority

  • The crypto industry’s political action committee (PAC) now has over US$160 million in funds at its disposal.
  • The crypto PAC, known as Fairshake, may use these funds to target key senate races that could flip control to the Republicans, in pursuit of crypto-friendly regulation.
  • Biden officials are expected to attend a Bitcoin and blockchain roundtable in Washington DC next month to formulate a strategy to keep blockchain innovation in the US.

According to a report from Bloomberg, the crypto industry has amassed over US$160 million (AU$241.9m) in its political lobbying war chest and may deploy some of that money to influence the outcome of key senate races in this year’s election.

The crypto industry’s political action committee (PAC), known as Fairshake, has been boosted recently by huge contributions from industry heavyweights including Ripple, Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and Coinbase. 

It appears this lobbying campaign may already be having some impact on policy, with recent approval of Ethereum spot ETFs, the passage of the FIT21 bill through Congress, and new reports of Biden officials being set to attend a Bitcoin and blockchain roundtable event in Washington DC next month.

Related: FIT21 Crypto Bill Passes US House with Bipartisan Support, Will President Biden Veto? 

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Crypto Political Action Committee Boosted By Industry Titans

Fairshake has been boosted in the past few months by enormous contributions from titans of the industry. In the past month Ripple, Andreesen Horowitz and Coinbase have each contributed US$25 million to the PAC, seeing the organisation’s coffers almost double.

Coinbase’s chief policy officer, Faryar Shirzad, said that crypto industry collectively has learned that it needs to engage politically to get favourable policy outcomes, just like any other industry:

We’ve learned as an industry that you have to show up politically to be heard. We’re very, very committed to see that though. We’re very committed to this cycle and beyond. This is only the beginning of a long road.

Faryar Shirzad, Chief policy officer at Coinbase

And what are those favourable policy outcomes the industry is pursuing? Well primarily it’s about regulation. The industry wants to see the Securities And Exchange Commission (SEC) play a reduced role in overseeing digital asset markets and it’d like to see the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) become the industry’s main regulator.

Crypto Lobbying Could Flip Senate In Upcoming Election

A big part of achieving these policy objectives could be flipping control of the US Senate to the Republicans at this year’s election. 

For the Democrats to retain control of the Senate, both Banking Chairman Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jon Tester of Montana, need to be re-elected. The problem for both these men is that they’re crypto sceptics and they’re also running in states won by Donald Trump at the last election—making them attractive targets.

Fairshake spokesman, Josh Vlasto, said earlier this month that the PAC was keeping a close eye on both Brown and Tester’s senate races but hadn’t yet committed to spending money on them directly.

If the Republicans did gain control of the Senate it’d mean the crypto-friendly FIT21 bill—which passed the Congress in May and would see the CFTC become the industry’s primary regulator— could have a chance of passing the Senate and becoming law.

Biden Officials Set To Attend Bitcoin Roundtable

In a sign the industry’s lobbying efforts might be paying off, officials from the Biden administration are set to attend a Bitcoin and blockchain roundtable event in Washington DC next month to be hosted by US Congressman Ro Khanna.

Related: Mark Cuban Sounds Alarm on Bitcoin as Transaction Fees Plunge Post-Halving 

According to Bitcoin Magazine, who received a copy of the event’s invitation email, the roundtable will include congressmen, senators, Whitehouse officials and the businessman Mark Cuban. The purpose of the meeting is described in the invitation as being to formulate strategy around how to “keep Bitcoin and blockchain innovation in the United States.”

Jody McDonald
Author

Jody McDonald

Jody is a Brisbane-based freelance writer who specialises in writing about business, technology, and the future of work.

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