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Stablecoin Bill Becomes Political Battleground: Fed And GOP Face Off

Leading Republican House Financial Services Committee members have reacted angrily to the Federal Reserve Board’s recent moves. They argue that the Federal Reserve’s current policies undermine Congress’s steps to establish a solid regulatory environment for payment stablecoins.

Representatives Patrick McHenry, French Hill, and Bill Huizenga blasted the Fed’s issue of supervision and regulation letters in a scathing letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. They claim these letters may unwittingly discourage financial institutions from entering the digital asset ecosystem.

The Federal Reserve’s supervision and regulatory letters, known as SR 23-7 and SR 23-8, are at the heart of their concerns. These letters, meant to guide authorized operations in the digital asset field, sparked debate. According to the Republican legislators, the letters contradict the Financial Services Committee’s proactive efforts to create a stable regulatory environment for stablecoins.

The lawmakers emphasize the importance of legislative clarity in the payment stablecoin industry, underlining the need to protect consumers and create confidence among market participants. They remark that the House Committee on Financial Services’ bipartisan support for the Clarity for Payment Stablecoins Act influenced their understanding.

Despite this, the passage of SR 23-7 and SR 23-8 has piqued the interest of these Republican legislators. They contend that, while presented as directing permitted conduct, these supervisory letters effectively restrict banking institutions under Fed supervision from producing payment stablecoins or engaging in the payment stablecoin ecosystem.

What aggravates these politicians is their belief that the Fed’s Novel Activities Supervision Program, established under SR 23-7, imposes unnecessary regulatory hurdles on banks interested in dealing with cryptocurrency assets. They argue that this strategy and previous policy decisions might lead to an effective prohibition on banks’ engagement in the larger digital asset ecosystem.

Furthermore, the parliamentarians raise a procedural problem, pointing out that the issuance of SR 23-7 and SR 23-8 needed to follow the Administrative Procedure Act’s notice and comment process. They say issuing such advice without holding market participants and the public accountable is unacceptable.

This intensifying conflict between Congress and the Federal Reserve highlights the growing tensions surrounding stablecoin regulation and the broader digital asset market. As the debate continues, industry stakeholders are keenly tracking developments, realizing that the future of stablecoin regulation is at stake. The ball is now in the hands of the Federal Reserve, and how it responds to these concerns will most certainly influence the direction of this high-stakes regulatory debate.

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