Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., are working together on a bipartisan bill that would provide clarity on the United States’ regulation of cryptocurrencies and other digital assets, the pair announced March 24 at an event organized by Politico.

The legislation would create “a broad-based regulatory framework for how this industry should potentially be regulated in the future,” Sen. Gillibrand said. The bill would mark the first major bipartisan attempt to regulate cryptocurrencies.

“The work we’re doing is going to be a very complex and intensive review of the different aspects of this industry,” Sen. Gillibrand explained. “Some will be regulated under the CFTC [Commodity Futures Trading Commission], some parts will be regulated under the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission], some will be needed to look at more broadly. And we intend to have a regulatory commission that can look at these issues of first impression and make judgments and guidance.”

Sen. Gillibrand and Sen. Lummis said they are still in the early stages of writing the legislation but are actively gathering feedback from stakeholders, regulators, and industry experts.

Earlier this month, President Biden signed an executive order that aims to address the risks and benefits of digital assets – including cryptocurrencies – and their underlying technologies. The order also encourages Federal regulators to provide oversight of those assets to guard against systemic financial risks that they might impose.

Additionally, a group of Senate Democrats this month introduced a bill to ensure Russian actors do not evade economic sanctions imposed on the country following its invasion of Ukraine through the use of cryptocurrencies. However, the Biden administration has said there is no evidence of cryptocurrencies being used by Russia to evade sanctions.

Sen. Lummis, a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, said she hopes her committee’s recent crypto hearing helped to “alleviate” some senators’ concerns over the use of digital assets.

“It’s easier to track and freeze digital assets than it is to track dollars,” Sen. Lummis said.

“We now know through meetings with Treasury and other organizations, that right now Russia doesn’t have the immediate capacity to prevent the imposition of sanctions by using digital assets,” she added. “It’s provided us an opportunity to further educate members of Congress… about the advantages of digital assets.”

Sen. Gillibrand said the legislation will work “in parallel” with the White House’s executive order and will allow all senators – including the crypto skeptics – to “have a chance to work on this legislation.”

“The truth is, everyone that I know in the Senate wants to have consumer protection, safety, and soundness. They want to have security, they want anti-fraud. They want regulatory frameworks that make sense. They want something that uses existing structures. That’s what we’re doing,” Sen. Gillibrand said.

“We’re doing the work that we are well aware is important to anyone in the United States who is interested in this market, but also that’s very important to our colleagues,” she added.

The senators said they have been working on this legislation for over a month and plan to introduce it in the coming weeks.

“I’m really optimistic,” Sen. Lummis said. “We’re looking forward to rolling out a piece of legislation.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.