Old World Meets New in Latest DC Hangup

Infrastructure bill is stalled by disagreement over cryptocurrency
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 6, 2021 2:12 PM CDT
Old World Meets New in Latest DC Hangup
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., chair of the Senate Finance Committee, speaks to reporters as lawmakers work to advance the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

An old-school political issue—infrastructure—is getting bogged down by the most newfangled of topics. Cryptocurrency. It seems that the giant, bipartisan infrastructure bill is hung up because senators can't agree on how much to regulate the burgeoning field, reports the Hill. The details get convoluted, both in terms of arcane tax issues and even more arcane issues of bitcoin mining. But the Hill and the Washington Post lay out the broad strokes: The bill as originally written aims to raise $28 billion to pay for infrastructure projects by tightening tax compliance in the world of crypto. But critics say the approach is hamfisted, misunderstands how crypto works, and has the potential to cripple the field. As a result, two competing amendments have emerged to fix things.

The first is from Democrat Ron Wyden, head of the Senate Finance Committee, and Republicans Patrick Toomey and Cynthia Lummis. They want to ease up on the regulations, in part by making more crypto players exempt. Specifically, this involves redefining who qualifies as a "broker." For example, a big platform such as Coinbase would be considered a broker, but not individual "miners." The second amendment, from Republican Rob Portman and Democrats Mark Warner and Kysten Sinema, splits the difference by exempting more crypto actors than the original bill but fewer than Wyden's amendment. Treasury chief Janet Yellin is reportedly in talks with all the major parties involved to get a resolution. (More infrastructure stories.)

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