House Committees to Move Crypto Bill

House Ag to Focus on Crypto Oversight, Then Farm Bill

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent
Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson, R-Pa., in his office last December. Thompson told reporters the House Agriculture Committee will release a draft of a cryptocurrency bill this week and likely will release a draft of the farm bill when lawmakers return after Labor Day. (DTN file photo)

WASHINGTON (DTN) -- The House Agriculture Committee will release the draft of a digital asset market structure bill this week and mark it up next week, working jointly with the House Financial Services Committee, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn "GT" Thompson, R-Pa., told reporters at a briefing on Tuesday.

The bill is produced as part of the Ag Committee's jurisdiction over the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The Financial Services Committee has jurisdiction over the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The two committees have been working closely together on the CFTC provisions of the bill.

Thompson was joined at the briefing by Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., chairman of the House Agriculture Commodity Markets, Digital Assets and Rural Development Subcommittee. Johnson said he has spoken every week for two months with Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., the House Financial Services Digital Assets, Financial Technology and Inclusion Subcommittee chairman, to develop the joint bill.

Thompson said a court ruling last week that Ripple Labs Inc. did not violate federal securities laws in selling its XRP tokens directly to sophisticated investors showed the need for legislation to address the structure of digital assets markets. Johnson said some Democrats believe that the SEC has enough authority to regulate the digital assets market, but the Ripple ruling showed that is not the case.

The bill will make clear that the United States is the country where the digital asset marketplace should be located, Thompson said.


Thompson maintained that the need to produce a bill regulating the digital assets market has not slowed work on the farm bill, saying, "We can walk and chew gum at the same time."

Thompson said he hopes to hold a markup on the farm bill in mid-September and will release a draft before the markup.

As to whether the bill will come up on the House floor before the current farm law expires on Sept. 30, Thompson said that is up the leadership and noted there are many demands for floor time, especially for appropriations bills. "Sept. 30 is uncomfortably close," Thompson said.

The Senate's schedule is also an issue, Thompson said, but he said he would meet with Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee, this week and that he had dinner last week with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

Thompson said it's time "to transition from listening to legislating," but he also said he will participate in several listening sessions in late July, including in Connecticut with Rep. Jahana Hayes and in Maine with Rep. Chellie Pingree. Both Hayes and Pingree are Democrats.

Thompson said he expects to spend most of August in Washington working on the farm bill. The House will be out of session for August, and Thompson noted that he will miss county fairs and livestock auctions that he usually attends in August.

Thompson said he does not expect the farm bill to include work requirements for participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beyond those in the debt ceiling bill that was passed earlier this summer. The debt ceiling bill raised the age for which single, able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) must work to get continuous SNAP benefits from 49 to 54, but at the insistence of the Biden administration, exempted veterans, the homeless and youth exiting the foster care system.

Johnson, who had introduced a bill to establish SNAP work requirements that were tougher than those in the debt ceiling bill, said he was not a leader on the debt ceiling SNAP provisions, but that he had been consulted. "I was not the Johnny Appleseed of that policy," Johnson said, adding that he believes "the changes that were made moved us in the right direction."

Thompson highlighted that the debt ceiling bill "codified" that SNAP is a "workforce development program" with employment and training provisions that provides a financial security program as well as food security.

Thompson noted his goal is to get as many votes, both Republican and Democratic, on the House floor as possible.

On the question of what SNAP participants can buy with their benefits, Thompson said the approach is to use incentives to help participants buy fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy products. Under the current program, the incentives are for fresh fruits and vegetables, but Thompson said there would be a consideration of adding frozen foods to the incentives. Online SNAP purchases seem to be going well, particularly because some grocery stores are not charging for delivery, he said.

Thompson's leadership style is "engagement," Johnson said, noting that he has not waited for the farm bill to come before the House. Johnson pointed out that Thompson has been conducting educational sessions for House members because there are so many who have never voted on a farm bill before.

Johnson said he has a "whimsical theory" that every bill has a certain amount of pain and that with the farm bill, the idea is to "frontload" that pain rather than have a flare-up on the House floor.

Thompson said he wants to "be sure no one thinks it is the farm bill of the 1970s" when a bill could "take a grain shovel and get a scoop of money and throw it out there. It is a public-private partnership, a workforce development bill."

Johnson said that some Freedom Caucus arguments are based on views that are not "quite right," but that Thompson can explain that farm programs provisions are risk management tools.

Thompson said he is "looking under every rock to see what those dollars may be that we can repurpose," and the commodity programs in Title I are particularly in need of additional funding so that the reference prices that trigger farm payments can be raised to be in line with current prices and costs.

Johnson noted that during the Trump administration's trade war with China, prices were lowered but that did not trigger Title I payments.

Allowing Farm Credit institutions to make loans for fisheries, community facilities and hospitals -- a proposal that commercial banks oppose -- will be part of the discussion, but he noted that the Farm Credit institutions and commercial banks already work together on some loans.

Thompson also praised the establishment of the bipartisan House task force on agricultural labor but noted that the House Agriculture Committee does not have jurisdiction over immigration and labor policies.

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at

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Jerry Hagstrom