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Washington, D.C. - Today, Congressman Tom Emmer led the Financial Services Task Force on Financial Technology Hearing. Congressman Emmer serves as the Ranking Member. 

Watch the full hearing here

Full Transcript of Rep. Emmer’s remarks:

"I want to thank my colleague from Massachusetts for moving this taskforce ahead and for making sure it continues to meet. I appreciate you, I appreciate all your staff that are making these things happen, but I – for the record – want it to be known that this is outrageous, ridiculous, and unnecessary. I think we should be in Washington doing our job and I hope that people will see that soon.

The conversation today stands to be very insightful on two topics: the ways the federal government can better utilize technology to increase efficiency and delivery of government services, and the concept of a centrally backed digital currency. I appreciate and look forward to our witnesses’ thoughts on these subjects.

Two months ago, I led a letter along with my colleague Darren Soto urging the Treasury to take additional steps to leverage all that American ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and innovation has to offer. As co-chairs of the blockchain caucus, we have been diving deep on all the technology, and what it has to offer. It could help to serve both topics of this hearing I mentioned previously. In addition, a wide array of technologies could help the Treasury distribute the remaining stimulus payments that have not been distributed yet, and I urge them and each agency to consider new technologies that could help the agencies operate more efficiently and more quickly.

I want to turn now to the second topic, and what I think could stand to serve as the sole topic of a hearing like this – a centrally backed digital currency. Representative Hill, who now serves as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy highlighted this topic many months ago to the Federal Reserve and did it in a bipartisan fashion.

Since then, I have heard that the Fed has been working to research and develop the concept, a process which I emphatically support but unfortunately have not received the level of public consideration and transparency that I think is fundamentally necessary for such a pursuit. The dollar is changing, and Americans deserve a full accounting of the work being done and the considerations they will have to make in ensuring their leaders continue to guarantee their freedom and their methods of exchange.

In fact, cash is a public payments infrastructure available to all citizens without any need for permission. Currently, cash works solely by the bearer of the instrument. As the economy moves increasingly online, the use of cash will diminish. To engage in electronic commerce, citizens need an intermediary in most cases, including many cryptocurrencies.

To be a truly permissionless digital cash, however, a digital dollar must have the same attributes as physical cash. Anything less would simply create a new intermediary, and it could even be one offered by the government in competition with private financial institutions.

It is American values like freedom, privacy, openness, and permissionless entrepreneurship that have led us to dominate global commerce and innovation. We should have the courage of our convictions to build these values into a digital dollar, and not to emulate systems like China’s new digital yuan, which is closed, centralized, surveiled, and permissioned so that access can be denied, and payments blocked, by those in power.

Electronic cash will be as susceptible to illicit use just as the dollar is today. The same rules apply to physical cash should apply to a digital dollar. While this may not go far enough for some, the only way to go further would be to create a permissioned, closed, and surveiled system like China’s.

I hope the conversation surrounding a digital dollar today takes into account these essential freedoms that American’s may often today take for granted, but must also ensure to continue on as we move into this new era. As I have said from the beginning, technologies like this can empower individuals and make their government more accountable directly to them. We can’t cede this power to the government at the expense of the individual. With that in mind, I appreciate the witnesses’ time, and Mr. Chairman I yield back."

In addition to being Ranking Member of the Financial Technology Taskforce and Co-Chair of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, Congressman Emmer is the lead author of:

  • The Main Street Growth Act, which would provide for the creation of “venture exchanges,” helping small and emerging growth companies gain access to capital.
  • The Blockchain Regulatory Certainty Act, which would ensure that certain blockchain related entities that never take control of consumer funds do not need to register as a money transmitter.
  • The Safe Harbor for Taxpayers with Forked Assets Act, which would provide a safe harbor for taxpayers with “forked” digital assets and restrict fines against individuals that attempt to report these assets until the IRS provides guidance on how to do so.