Bill Foster

Facebook’s currency plan makes fintech a tough sell in Congress
Some members are conflating disdain for Facebook with other, more vital fintech innovation, Schweikert says

House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters has criticized Facebook’s new cryptocurrency offering, Libra, calling it an “unchecked expansion” into the lives of the company’s users. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Members of Congress who support the development of new financial technologies say their job might have gotten tougher after Facebook announced its plan to issue a cryptocurrency.

Lawmakers used hearings in both chambers this month to roundly censure Facebook’s proposed Libra, which the social media company says could provide financial services to people who can’t rely on banks.

They wanted term limits for leadership. Pelosi agreed. Now what?
Ed Perlmutter still hasn’t got a caucus vote. But he’s stopped pushing

Colorado Reps. Ed Perlmutter, center, pushed Speaker Nancy Pelosi to back term limits for senior Democratic leaders. For now, he’s dropping the proposal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Ed Perlmutter, the lead negotiator for a group of Democrats who pushed Speaker Nancy Pelosi to agree to limit her leadership tenure to four more years, is no longer pushing for the Democratic Caucus to adopt leadership term limits as part of its rules. 

“We’re just letting it sit right now,” the Colorado Democrat said. 

Hearings on Facebook’s Libra could dim cryptocurrencies’ sheen
Lawmakers have already made up their minds about fintech, some in the industry fear

Two congressional committees are preparing for hearings on Facebook’s new cryptocurrency, Libra.(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The financial technology industry is anticipating a windfall of attention and possible scrutiny following upcoming House and Senate hearings on Libra, the new cryptocurrency announced by Facebook last month.

Advocates for the growth of blockchain technology and digital currencies say Facebook’s entry into fintech is an exciting development for an industry that still exists in relative obscurity because of public misconceptions about the technology and lack of clear regulations governing their use.

‘Dead billionaires’ and a tech Peace Corps? Lawmakers float ideas to fix Congress
First hearing of new modernization committee turns into a brainstorming session

Reps. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., left, and John Sarbanes, D-Md., are seen in between testimony during a Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress business meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer kicked off the first hearing of the new Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress with a plea for a return of something from the past: earmarks.

The Maryland Democrat was the first among 30 lawmakers who offered ideas Tuesday to the temporary and bipartisan panel, which has been charged with making recommendations about how to update Congress for the modern era.

Fintech industry pursues clarity on ‘token’ regulation
Advocates are finding a sympathetic ear in Congress

Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, is planning to reintroduce with Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., legislation that would further define the term “digital token.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Financial technology advocates are seeking an answer from regulators on when things like digital tokens should be deemed to be securities, and they’re gaining a sympathetic ear in Congress.

Further clarity from regulators would encourage more U.S. growth in digital assets, the advocates say.

Lots of legislation would deal with future shutdowns, but most of it DOA
Republicans and Democrats introduced at least 30 bills in January but most won’t go anywhere

Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine introduced multiple bills in January taking aim at government shutdowns. Virginia is home to the most government workers of any state in the country. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Momentum built in Congress last month to address future government shutdowns, with lawmakers from both parties introducing at least 30 bills in January to curb the effects on government workers, create monetary disincentives for lawmakers and administration appointees to let appropriations lapse, or, in some cases, eliminate the government shutdown altogether.

Illinois Democratic Rep. Bill Foster proposed a bill to prohibit House lawmakers from getting their pump on at the Capitol’s member-exclusive gym or grubbing at the Members’ Dining Room, both run by the Architect of the Capitol.

New Democrats launch task forces to help craft the House majority’s policy agenda
Task forces focus on issue areas like health care, infrastructure, climate change, national security, trade and technology

Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., will co-chair the New Democrat Coalition’s health care task force, one of eight policy-focused work groups the centrist Democrats have launched this week. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The New Democrat Coalition is ready to help the House majority craft its policy agenda for the 116th Congress, launching eight issue-focused task forces to develop proposals on party priorities such as health care, infrastructure and climate change. 

The group of centrist Democrats has used task forces to develop policy proposals in past Congresses, but they’re particularly excited about the work the task forces will do this session now that their party is in the majority.

US relies on old rules to police cryptoassets
Europe appears to be on different fintech track

Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., who is part of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, has called on the U.S. government to lightly regulate the emerging technology. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Despite calls for international unity on financial regulations following the 2008 financial crisis, the United States is unlikely to follow Europe in exploring a unique regulatory regime for “cryptoassets,” whether for payment models like bitcoin or utility tokens that have been touted by celebrities as can’t-miss investments.

The U.S. approach, which has been reaffirmed several times by regulators, is to apply standard rules and tests dating back to the 1930s to fintech, or financial technology, products when determining whether agencies have authority over them.

Pelosi Agrees to Deal Limiting Her Speakership to 4 Years
Caucus may not formally adopt leadership term limits but Pelosi agrees to hold herself to a maximum of two more terms

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has agreed to limit her pending speakership to a maximum of two more terms to win the support of five members who otherwise opposed her bid.(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 11:21 p.m.Nancy Pelosi is doing exactly what she said she wouldn’t in order to secure the votes she needs to be elected speaker — putting an end date on her tenure as the top House Democratic leader. 

Under an agreement reached with seven Democrats who opposed her speaker bid, Pelosi will back term limits for the top three Democratic leaders. The limit she has agreed to will prevent her from serving as speaker beyond another four years. 

With Opponents Dug In, Pelosi Has Little Room to Negotiate on Speaker Votes
At least 15 Pelosi opponents say they remain firm and will not vote ‘present’

Reps.-elect Max Rose, D-N.Y., left, and Jason Crow, D-Colo., pictured fist bumping at the new member office lottery on Nov. 30, are among the Democrats firmly opposed to Nancy Pelosi’s speaker bid. Rep.-elect Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., is among those who voted against Pelosi in caucus elections but appears open to supporting her on the floor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

At least 15 Democrats resisting Nancy Pelosi’s speaker bid are holding firm in their opposition and say they plan to vote for someone other than the California Democrat during the Jan. 3 speaker election, providing Pelosi with little room to negotiate a victory.

With the House poised to have 235 Democrats seated on the opening day of the 116th Congress when the speaker election takes place, Pelosi can only afford to have 17 Democrats vote and say a name that is not hers to meet the 218-vote majority threshold.