A Congressional committee has called on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to focus on digital currency regulation as President Barack Obama’s term in office winds to a close.
The Agriculture Committee of the US House of Representatives sent a letter to CFTC chair Timothy Massad in the wake of the election of Republican Donald Trump, who defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential vote earlier this month. The committee’s letter expressed concern about so-called midnight rulemaking, or a situation in which an outgoing administration uses its remaining time in office to put new regulations in place.
Committee chair Mike Conaway, a Republican from Texas, called on the CFTC to avoid pursuing “controversial regulations” in the final months of Obama’s term. Instead, the agency should focus on its role as a market watchdog and pursue other kinds of “day-to-day work” including enforcement actions, Conaway wrote.
Conaway went on to suggest that the CFTC could also prioritize initiatives like the regulation of digital currencies before the Trump administration takes over, writing:
“Among the many housekeeping actions the Commission could undertake would be to provide additional clarity about the regulation of digital currencies. Providing the public with more certainty will help strengthen this new technology and protect the participants of these emerging markets.”
The CFTC moved in September 2015 to formally declare that it would regulate bitcoin as a kind of commodity. The pronouncement came as the agency announced that it was settling charges against bitcoin options platform Coinflip.
“Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are encompassed in the definition and properly defined as commodities,” the agency said at the time.
The agency has also held public hearings on blockchain, and senior officials like Commissioner J Christopher Giancarlo have pushed for the CFTC to adopt a more accommodative stance toward the technology.
The full letter can be found below:
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