The U.S. House Financial Services Committee passed a bill Wednesday aimed at defining whether cryptocurrencies are securities or commodities. The bill also seeks to increase the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s oversight over the crypto industry and clarify the jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Fast facts

  • Widely considered a win for crypto lobbyists seeking regulatory clarity for the industry, Wednesday’s markup was the first time a crypto regulatory bill has been voted on in Congress. 
  • Passage of the bill enjoyed the support of House Financial Services Committee Republicans, and pro-crypto Democrats including House Representative from New York Ritchie Torres.
  • The bill will now go to a vote in the Senate where it may encounter significant opposition from Democratic lawmakers.
  • Responding to the vote, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, said that she was “disappointed that Republicans have made the unilateral decision to move forward with a massive market structure bill to rewrite our nation’s investor protection laws.” Waters added that the bill favored the interests of the crypto industry over those of regulators and consumers.
  • The markup is one of a number of key Capitol Hill developments for the crypto industry this week. On Thursday, the House Agriculture Committee is scheduled to markup the Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century Act, which again aims to clarify the status of digital assets in the U.S.
  • The action on Capitol Hill arrives as the SEC continues to exert its regulatory control of the nation’s crypto industry, including in the form of lawsuits brought against cryptocurrency exchanges Binance.US and Coinbase in June for alleged violations of securities rules. 
  • The SEC argues that the vast majority of cryptocurrencies should be classified as securities, therefore drawing the digital asset industry into its jurisdiction.