During those early years, Todd White, a lobbyist for Rulon & White Governance Strategies, said he couldn’t convince cryptocurrency companies that they needed help in Washington.
“The industry itself has failed to understand the power of lobbying. They just woke up in the last couple of weeks, and now there’s an opportunity to really transform, ”said Mr. White, who now represents a new group called the Government Blockchain Association.
Former Congressman Mike Conaway, an eight-term Republican from Texas who did not seek re-election last year, is now registered to lobby for Ripple Labs, a cryptocurrency startup. Howard Schweitzer, former general counsel for the Export-Import Bank and COO of the government TARP program, is lobbying for the Bitcoin Association for BSV, an industry group that claims to support an offshoot of bitcoin.
Like the decentralized currencies it adopts, the industry has no singular voice in Washington. And the libertarian roots of the bitcoin movement made many of its adherents suspicious and dismissive of anything to do with government, even as its underlying technology had spread to Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and the provinces. American companies.
Some of the lobbyists have admitted that this dynamic has been problematic.
The Digital Chamber of Commerce, an industry group created in 2014, angered many of its members when it invited banks, consultancies and tech companies that had only marginal attachments to cryptocurrencies to join. its ranks. In 2020, Coinbase, the largest crypto exchange in the United States, left the Blockchain Association, a separate industry group the company helped found two years earlier. The schism occurred after the association granted membership to a Coinbase rival, Binance, whose affiliates encountered a host of regulatory issues overseas.
This fragmentation and a lack of resources helped explain why many in the industry were unaware and unprepared for the provision for the infrastructure bill presented by Mr. Portman. Some groups, including the Digital Chamber of Commerce, spoke to members of Mr. Portman’s staff frequently during the development of the provision, while others, including Coin Center, did not.
Still, there were hints as if the measure was in sight. In May, the Treasury Department said in a report that it hoped to generate additional revenue in the following fiscal year by expanding the information cryptocurrency brokers must report to the government to fight tax evasion.
Once Mr. Portman’s disposition was made public in late July, however, the disparate crypto groups came together. A joint statement calling the requirements of the provision “unworkable” drew five signatories, including Coinbase and the Blockchain Association, who reconciled.
Coinbase also reached out and found a sympathetic ear with Mr Wyden, who used to champion emerging technologies and individual privacy. Mr. Wyden tabled an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill clarifying the definition of crypto broker with Mr. Toomey and Ms. Lummis.
These senators have more than a passing interest in crypto. In June, Mr. Toomey had invested between $ 2,000 and $ 30,000 in bitcoin and ethereum trusts. Ms Lummis is from a state that changed laws to make it more welcoming to digital asset businesses and disclosed between $ 100,000 and $ 250,000 in bitcoin holdings.
Meanwhile, cryptocurrency fans on social media responded to a call from Fight for the Future, a nonprofit advocating for a more open internet, to contact members of Congress about the bill. . The #DontKillCrypto campaign, amplified by MM. Dorsey and Kutcher, has prompted more than 40,000 appeals to lawmakers.
“The results blew us away,” said Lia Holland, communications director for Fight for the Future. “If we had received 5,000 calls, we certainly would have called it a success. “