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Bukele Slams US Bill That Targets 'Potential Risks' of El Salvador’s Bitcoin Law

U.S. senators will now vote on the bill—and President Bukele isn’t happy.

3 min read
El Salvador President Nayib Bukele and his wife, Gabriela. Image: Wikimedia Commons

In brief

  • U.S. lawmakers last month introduced a bill to examine and develop a plan to mitigate “potential risks” of El Salvador’s Bitcoin law.
  • The bill has moved to the next stage.

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele lashed out U.S. lawmakers today, angered by the Senate's decision to move ahead with a bill to examine the “potential risks” of the Central American country’s Bitcoin Law. 

The proposed bill, the Accountability for Cryptocurrency in El Salvador (ACES) Act, passed committee yesterday, meaning it will now move to the next step and the Senate will have to vote on it. 

Senators last month introduced the bill. It asks the State Department to produce a report on El Salvador’s Bitcoin adoption and develop a plan to mitigate its “potential to weaken U.S. sanctions policy, empowering malign actors like China and organized criminal organizations.”

After the bill passed committee Wednesday, President Bukele said on Twitter that “The U.S. Government does not stand for freedom and that is a proven fact.” He added that “we will stand for freedom” and called Bitcoin “FU [fuck you] money.” 

“Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that the U.S. Government would be afraid of what we are doing here,” he added in a separate tweet. 

President Bukele is known for his outbursts on social media and rarely speaks to the press, instead preferring to communicate through cinematic Instagram videos and emoji-laden tweets. 

The Bitcoin Law was proposed by Bukele last year and passed in September. It asks businesses to accept Bitcoin as payment if they have the technological means to do so. 

Lots of big businesses—like Starbucks or McDonalds—in the small country allow citizens to pay with the cryptocurrency, but smaller businesses don’t. 

El Salvador’s government gave its citizens $30-worth of Bitcoin to spend via a state cryptocurrency wallet, and Bitcoin ATMs are all over the capital San Salvador. 

The Bitcoin community seemed to love the idea of a government allowing its citizens to freely spend crypto but the World Bank, the IMF, and JP Morgan didn’t. The IMF in January even asked El Salvador to scrap the law altogether.

Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) said in an announcement Wednesday: “As El Salvador has adopted Bitcoin as legal tender, it’s important we understand and mitigate potential risks to the U.S. financial system.” 

But if it’s any consolation to El Salvador, the bill still has a very long way before it is passed—and even if it is signed into law, it’s not yet clear if it would tame President Bukele’s Bitcoin ambitions.

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