02.15.18

Chairman Roberts Hears Cryptocurrency Update from CFTC Chairman Giancarlo

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today held an oversight hearing on the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) titled, “State of the CFTC: Examining Pending Rules, Cryptocurrency Regulation, and Cross-Border Agreements.” 

During the hearing, Roberts examined the CFTC’s regulation of cryptocurrencies and received an update regarding current equivalency agreements between the CFTC and European financial regulators. 

“Today, we examine a number of issues within the derivatives markets space, including important key end-user rules currently pending before the Commission, the status of cross border equivalency agreements, and determining the proper role of regulators in the evolving market of cryptocurrencies,” Chairman Roberts said. 

The Senate Agriculture Committee has jurisdiction over the CFTC, which oversees the $600 trillion derivative markets. 

Click here to watch Chairman Roberts' opening statement. Below are Chairman Roberts’ remarks as prepared for delivery: 

I call this hearing of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee to order. 

I welcome my colleagues especially the newest additions to the Senate Agriculture Committee—Senator Fischer from Nebraska and Senator Smith from Minnesota. For the benefit of other members, I’d like to note that Ranking Member Stabenow and I are both pleased to announce that Senator Fischer will be chairing the Subcommittee on Livestock, Marketing, and Agriculture Security.  And, Senator Smith is the Ranking Member for the Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy. We welcome you to the Ag Committee. 

And, I welcome today’s witness, Chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Chris Giancarlo as we examine a number of issues within the derivatives markets space, including important key end-user rules currently pending before the Commission, the status of cross border equivalency agreements, and determining the proper role of regulators in the evolving market of cryptocurrencies. 

Mr. Chairman, I speak for the whole committee when I say we have been impressed with your leadership heading up the CFTC since January of last year. 

While we held a number of confirmation hearings last year for you and your fellow commissioners, it has been almost three years since this committee has held a true oversight hearing examining the CFTC and the markets you regulate. 

This hearing is very timely given that a lot has happened. 

This is especially true in the derivatives sector where commodities like Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies, have become a major topic of discussion not only among large financial institutions on Wall Street, but among retail purchasers who are trying to determine what role, if any, cryptocurrencies should play in their investment decisions. 

Because cryptocurrency offerings, and the technologies they are built upon are skyrocketing, regulators like the CFTC are working hard to provide consumer protection, but without stifling further innovations in the market. 

Furthermore, the technology underlying cryptocurrencies has transformative potential. Blockchain, or distributed ledger technology, may offer the economy significant benefits as it is used to create more secure, transparent and efficient ways for record keeping. 

I am pleased to see the CFTC taking such an active role in this space. 

And, there was the historic vote by the people of Great Britain to leave the European Union. We are seeing how the decisions of European officials regarding cross border financial regulations may upend carefully negotiated agreements that would otherwise provide regulatory certainty to financial stakeholders operating on an international stage. 

We also continue to hear from important derivative end-users in the agricultural sector and beyond, eagerly awaiting resolution to important rule makings mandated under the Dodd-Frank Act. 

We understand you and CFTC staff are working diligently on a number of these issues and we look forward to hearing your progress. 

To that end Mr. Chairman, I understand that without an additional commissioner, finalizing some of these important rules is made much more difficult. We would like Dawn Stump, who was reported out of the committee last year, confirmed as soon as possible. The hold of her pending nomination is unacceptable. And, we will move forward on consideration of the additional vacant commissioner spot as soon as an individual is nominated. We need to move forward and get a fully functioning commission.  

Whether it’s market participants who rely on the CFTC to provide regulatory certainty, or consumer financial advocates who highlight the need for robust oversight of the market; I think everyone can agree we need a full panel of commissioners at the CFTC. 

Again, thank you Chairman Giancarlo for being here today, and I look forward to your testimony.  I now turn to my colleague, Senator Stabenow, for her opening remarks.   

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