The United States Congress finds itself in unprecedented legislative paralysis as the absence of a House Speaker halts progress on crucial crypto-related bills. Since the ousting of then-Speaker of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, on October 3rd, 2023, the legislative body has been without elected leadership, marking a historic moment in American politics.
This leadership void has cast a shadow over the fate of several crypto-related bills, including the Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century Act, the Blockchain Regulatory Certainty Act, the Clarity for Payment Stablecoins Act, and the Keep Your Coins Act.
The speaker of the US government
With no definitive plan to fill the Speaker’s role, the fate of these bills remains uncertain. The Speaker of the House is the third most powerful position in the U.S. government, and their influence is pivotal in steering legislation through Congress. Currently, there are several candidates vying for the position, but none have secured sufficient support from Republican lawmakers, who hold the majority of seats in the House.
Initially, Representative Steve Scalise garnered a majority of Republican votes in a closed-door session, but he later withdrew from the race. This opened the door for Representative Jim Jordan, who faced three rounds of voting, losing support with each round, ultimately being voted out as the Republican nominee. This leaves the Speaker’s position open to any candidate, regardless of their party affiliation.
On the Democratic side, Representative Hakeem Jeffries, the House Minority Leader, received unanimous support from all Democrats present during the voting rounds. However, in the absence of a clear Republican frontrunner, the Speaker’s seat remains in contention.
Patrick McHenry, the chair of the House Financial Services Committee, has served as interim Speaker since McCarthy’s removal. If McHenry decides to pursue the full-time role of Speaker, Representative French Hill could take the helm of the Financial Services Committee, overseeing crucial crypto legislation and other financial matters. Tom Emmer, a known advocate for the crypto industry, declared his intent to seek the Speaker’s seat on October 20th, rallying support from fellow Republicans.
Another pro-crypto candidate, Representative Byron Donalds, is also in the running, with a particular focus on oversight of the current administration. Representative Pete Sessions, known for his support of issues like bitcoin mining, is yet another contender.
Despite the presence of several pro-crypto candidates, the Speaker race remains far from decided. Tom Emmer may be considered the frontrunner, but recent weeks have demonstrated that the outcome is far from guaranteed, as divisions within the party persist.
The absence of a Speaker has had a direct impact on the progress of crypto-related bills. These bills had previously passed through the House Financial Services Committee and were expected to proceed to a full floor vote. The legislative gridlock has effectively put these bills on hold, leaving the crypto industry and its stakeholders in a state of uncertainty.
Despite the legislative standstill, some lawmakers have taken the opportunity to push for anti-crypto policies. Over 100 members of the House and Senate have signed a letter urging the White House to address cryptocurrency’s potential role in financing terrorism. This call for action followed an attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7th, reigniting concerns about the illicit use of cryptocurrencies.