Senator Cynthia Lummis is known on Capitol Hill as the “Crypto Queen”.
The Republican from Wyoming has earned a reputation as a cryptocurrency educator in Congress, demystifying and championing the technology to her older colleagues.
He’s a self-proclaimed HODLer, a crypto talker for someone investing in bitcoin as a way in before it takes over larger parts of the financial system. In June, she introduced a bill, alongside Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, to some of the first federal safeguards for the growing and largely unregulated world of decentralized finance.
“There are groups that don’t want any regulation. There are other groups that want to ban digital assets altogether,” a spokesperson for Senator Lummis told Insider. “We need to meet somewhere in the middle to make sure bad actors don’t take advantage of the lack of regulatory clarity, but also that innovators can continue to develop new technologies that make our world a better place.”
From Wyoming to Washington
Senator Lummis (pronounced as if to rhyme with “hummus”) served as state treasurer in her home state of Wyoming from 1999 to 2007 before winning Wyoming’s seat in the United States House. She served as vice chair of former President Donald Trump’s presidential transition team following his victory in the 2016 presidential election.
In 2020, Senator Lummis, 66, became the first woman to be elected as a senator from the state of Wyoming. That same year, she also became the Senate’s first crypto owner.
Lummis bought bitcoin in 2013 and she reported in October 2021 that it was between $50,000 and $100,000. However, she told Protocol last week that she placed her bitcoin holdings in a blind trust after receiving backlash for owning the digital assets.
But her passion for technology and her thirst for learning put her ahead of many of her colleagues.
“I’m catching up and I have to help my congressional colleagues catch up,” Senator Lummis told Reason in October 2021.
So what would the bill do?
This is a question that has plagued the industry for a long time. Many companies have long balked at the idea of the Securities and Exchange Commission overseeing digital assets, with many preferring oversight by the Commodity Future Trading Commission instead.
The legislation partially agrees.
“Digital assets that meet the definition of a commodity, such as bitcoin and ether, which account for more than half of the market capitalization of digital assets, will be regulated by the CFTC,” the bill says.
However, Senator Lummis said the SEC will still play a key role in warning consumers about small cryptocurrencies that may be scams.
“These are assets that need to be disclosed, where the public needs consumer protection because some of them are just fraudulent,” she told Protocol.
Is she the best person to draft the bill?
Some are skeptical of Senator Lummis’ unabashed pro-crypto fervor, given her influence in Congress and the fanfare in the industry.
This “calls into question whether she approaches this bill from the perspective of wanting what is best for society rather than wanting what will benefit an industry to which she is closely connected and in which she directly invests. Dylan Hedtler Gaudette, director of government affairs at the Project on Government Oversight told Insider. “It’s a classic conflict of interest, plain and simple.”
But on the other hand, some think his enthusiasm is an asset in policy-making.
“Senator Lummis’ interest in crypto reflects the position of many in the industry, and it’s important that all parties are represented in the regulatory conversation as it unfolds,” he told Reuters. Insider Kenneth Goodwin, director of regulatory and institutional affairs at the Blockchain Intelligence Group. “That being said, the bill is substantial in its position on how to designate crypto assets and apply violations accordingly.”
As for the nickname given to her, the “Crypto Queen” of Congress, Senator Lummis is all for it.
“It makes her laugh,” a spokesperson for the senator told Insider. “This community is so passionate.”