Ron Wyden, the Democrat Senator of Oregon and chair of the Senate Finance Committee, has said he wants to be “on the side of the innovator” when it comes to crypto, per the Financial Times.
“There is obviously a debate about stricter regulation but I want to be on the side of the innovator. When I think about crypto, I think about remittances, or somebody who has a kid 1,000 miles away and wants to get them help in an emergency, rather than going through scores of banks, credit card companies,” Wyden told the Financial Times.
“I keep looking for innovations. That’s where my heart lies,” he added.
Wyden’s comments come during a period of regulatory controversy for the crypto industry in the United States.
Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Gary Gensler, has repeatedly sounded the alarm on the crypto industry—along with many others.
Regulation vs. innovation
The crypto industry has encountered significant regulatory pushback in the United States in recent months.
Much of that pushback comes from Gensler, who was first anticipated to be a friend of the industry after teaching a blockchain course at MIT.
Since becoming SEC chair, however, Gensler has repeatedly called for tougher consumer protection laws and has oft suggested that the decentralized finance (DeFi) industry could be rife with unregistered securities.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has also been tough on crypto, urging federal agencies to “act quickly” on stablecoin regulation. Yellen also reportedly influenced a debate in the Senate over crypto taxation as part of a Treasury-led push to crackdown on crypto.
Increasingly, however, the crypto debate has become a bipartisan issue—one that Ron Wyden is shaking up.
Republicans, Democrats, and crypto
The crypto industry is increasingly dividing political camps in the United States.
Republicans—like Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)—have become bullish on crypto.
Cruz, in particular, has pointed to the potential for Texas to become a key destination for crypto mining, owing to the state’s abundant sources of energy.
Lummis, who has frequently waved the Bitcoin flag in Congress, even bought as much as $100,000 worth of Bitcoin in August last year.
Across the aisle, Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has frequently echoed Gensler’s concerns about consumer protection. She has also said cracking down on environmentally harmful cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin is one of the easiest things to do to combat the climate crisis.
Now, Wyman emerges as one of the first Democrats in Washington to share a more optimistic view of the industry. Time will tell if his party colleagues join him.