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Ranking Member Boozman Opening Statement at Hearing of Oversight of Digital Commodities

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, released the following opening remarks, as prepared, at the hearing to conduct oversight of digital commodities.

Thank you, Madam Chair. Welcome to my colleagues and, again, thank you for calling today’s hearing on the current state of digital commodities. I would also like to welcome Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman [Rostin] Behnam. We appreciate your hard work and as the Chair said, you certainly are not a stranger to this committee. We appreciate your willingness to come over and visit us as we request.

As the Ranking Member of this committee, I have consistently said in the past that I believe the CFTC is the right agency to regulate spot digital commodities. I still believe that to be true. The CFTC’ s principle-based approach has proven to effectively protect consumers in the derivatives market, and I believe with the appropriate authorities this same approach will protect consumers in the digital commodities space. At the same time, as policymakers we must also protect innovation and provide the regulatory certainty businesses need to maintain their operations in the United States.

The Chair has been drafting legislation that would give the CFTC the authority to regulate spot digital commodity trading. We have had many, many conversations and my staff have been working closely with hers on her proposal for the last several weeks. I am committed to continue to work in good faith on legislation to give the CFTC the authorities it needs.

Digital commodities and the regulatory issues they raise are complex and not well understood. I believe as a committee we have a responsibility to help educate our colleagues and the public on these issues and I would like to see us do more to better understand what policies are needed and why. Hopefully today’s hearing will begin to fill that gap.

Additionally, as we proceed as a committee, it is vital that we limit our policy proposals to the agencies that we have jurisdiction over—in this case the CFTC. We do not have authority over the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve. The oversight of those agencies is clearly outside the jurisdiction of this committee. Any legislation reported out of this committee should not direct or require anything of agencies not under our authority.

Finally, I believe that we must have broad support within the community we wish to regulate if we ultimately want to protect consumers and innovation. I and my staff have had numerous meetings with those who would be covered by the proposed legislation. The frank and honest feedback we have received from these discussions does not lead me to believe the necessary level of support for this proposal to be successful currently exists among stakeholders – and people are working very hard to try and rectify that.

Again, I am committed to working with the Chairwoman on her proposal to regulate digital commodities. Today’s hearing is a good start. I look forward to hearing the thoughts of Chairman Behnam and the questions posed by our colleagues.