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Elizabeth Warren, Captain of the ‘Anti-Crypto’ Army in the Senate

Elizabeth Warren, capitana del ejército “anticriptomonedas” en el Senado, EFE

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Elizabeth Warren is to cryptocurrencies as jelly is to polenta, totally incompatible. The senator for Massachusetts has positioned herself as the “anti-cryptocurrency” leader in the Senate and is not alone in her fight. Progressive colleagues and even some Republicans are teaming up with Warren in this crusade against the crypto world.

The former presidential candidate is trying to build all the necessary support to launch a comprehensive bill, which will seek to inject new regulations into the sector, for example, to verify the identity of clients and prevent money laundering.

Her attempts have been successful, as some conservative colleagues have joined her. One is Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS), who had worked with Warren on an earlier version of the bill.

In her quest to find partners from across the aisle, Warren overheard her colleague during a hearing and knew at that moment she had to recruit him. “I heard his questions and thought, there’s the partner I need to get a meaningful anti-money laundering bill through,” she confessed about it.

“I want to emphasize how good her office has been to work with,” remarked the senator, who was a co-sponsor of the Anti-Money Laundering of Digital Assets Act of 2022. This had a very clear objective, to mitigate “the risks that cryptocurrency and other digital assets pose to the United States’s national security by closing loopholes in the existing anti-money laundering and countering of the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) framework and bring the digital asset ecosystem into greater compliance with the rules that govern the rest of the financial system.”

The push to regulate the industry increased after the FTX scandal and the subsequent arrest of Sam Bankman-Fried. “What matters to me is [Bankman-Fried] spread money around Capitol Hill like it was dishwater, and nobody stopped at the time to ask any relevant questions about this company,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), who joined Warren in investigating Silvergate Bank, which is under the microscope for its ties to FTX.  

The bill sparked backlash from cryptocurrency advocates, such as lobbyists and many sites specialized in crypto. According to the site Coin Desk, the bill’s claims have very little evidence “that crypto empowers criminal actors far more than the little guy.”

Along the same lines, Coincenter argued that the project is “the most direct attack on the personal freedom and privacy of cryptocurrency users and developers we’ve yet seen.”

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The Massachusetts senator’s entourage was quick to respond to the criticism. “The crypto industry has an army of lobbyists and Washington insiders fighting against bipartisan rules to prevent crypto money laundering by criminals and rogue nations like Iran and North Korea,” said Alex Sarabia, Warren’s spokesman.

“There’s no reason that crypto should be held to a lower standard and not comply with the same rules for the same activities to address the same risks,” she added.

Another senator who has joined Warren’s coalition is Sherrod Brown (D-OH). In turn, the Democrat was optimistic about working with Tim Scott (R-SC), the ranking Republican on the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. They also do not rule out Mike Rounds (R-SD) joining this fledgling bipartisan coalition.

Joaquín Núñez es licenciado en comunicación periodística por la Universidad Católica Argentina. Se especializa en el escenario internacional y en la política nacional norteamericana. Confeso hincha de Racing Club de Avellaneda. Contacto: [email protected] // Joaquín Núñez has a degree in journalistic communication from the Universidad Católica Argentina. He specializes in the international scene and national American politics. Confessed fan of Racing Club of Avellaneda. Contact: [email protected]