SEC commissioner calls on Congress to pass crypto regulatory bill

Without endorsing a specific bill, SEC Commissioner Hester M. Peirce said Wednesday that Congress should pass legislation to provide regulatory clarity in the cryptocurrency market.

“We haven’t really done anything besides bringing enforcement actions,” she said of the SEC’s crypto activity under Chairman Gary Gensler. “We’ve issued some limited relief, but I think that relief is not expansive enough to allow some traditional players who are interested in this space to come in. I think it is a good time for legislation. It’s up to Congress to figure out how they want to allocate the regulatory responsibility.”

Ms. Peirce, a longtime crypto proponent, made the comments during a Security Traders Association conference in Washington.

As digital assets have become more popular in recent years, the debate as to how regulators should classify them has ramped up.

Several bills have been introduced in the House and Senate this year that would grant the Commodities Future Trading Commission greater authority to oversee the crypto market, including the bipartisan Digital Commodities Consumer Protection Act of 2022, which was introduced by leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee in August.

That bill would give the CFTC oversight over the two largest cryptocurrencies — bitcoin and ether. Currently, the CFTC can regulate only derivatives, such as futures, options and swaps.

Mr. Gensler has signaled support for providing the CFTC with greater authorities to regulate crypto non-security tokens, but has said the vast majority of crypto tokens are securities and fall under the SEC’s domain.

Ms. Peirce on Wednesday said both the SEC and CFTC should do more in soliciting public feedback on crypto regulation, but said federal lawmakers are the “ones who should be telling us what to do. And crypto is something that’s new and I think consequential enough that it would make sense for Congress to spend some time on, so I’m glad that they actually have been working on proposals to think about different aspects of regulating crypto.”

The likelihood of Congress passing a crypto-related bill by the end of the year is a longshot, but there is motivation in Washington to act on the issue.

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