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Elizabeth Warren

Bipartisan group presses Biden for crypto crackdown

A large bipartisan group of lawmakers demanded answers from the Treasury Department and White House Tuesday about the role crypto played in financing the recent Hamas terror attacks on Israel.

In a letter organized by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), dozens of lawmakers pointed to reporting in the Wall Street Journal last week that scrutinized the financing of terror attacks from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad on Israel. The WSJ reported that crypto is “one of a number of tools [Hamas] uses to raise funds.”

“Given the clear and present danger posed by the financing of these and other militant organizations,” the letter says, “we ask the Administration to provide additional details on its plan to prevent the use of crypto for the financing of terrorism.” Read the full letter here.

Warren has pushed for stricter anti-money laundering standards targeting the crypto sector along with Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), who also signed on to the letter. Rep. Sean Casten (D-Ill.) is leading the effort from the House side.

Warren and Marshall were joined by more than two dozen senators, including several committee chairs. Banking Committee Chair Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Foreign Relations Committee Chair Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Armed Services Committee Chair Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.), Budget Committee Chair Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) have all signed on. The letter was also signed by Republican Sen. John Kennedy (La.).

Meanwhile in the House, the group collected more than 70 signatures from Democrats, including several House Financial Service Committee members.

Even before today’s letter, the bedraggled crypto sector has been treating the Hamas-crypto narrative like a five-alarm fire in Washington. Advocates argue that well-known crypto firms such as Coinbase have established relationships with law enforcement and have a track record of identifying illicit activity.

But the crypto sector simply doesn’t have a lot of goodwill in Washington these days. If there’s a chance that Warren and other supporters could tack their bill onto another piece of legislation, we expect them to seize the opportunity.

Committee shakeup: It’s musical chairs on the Senate Banking Committee. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) is leaving for a spot on the Senate Appropriations Committee, where she’s replacing the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) Taking Sinema’s chair on the banking panel is Sen. Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.) after being sworn in two weeks ago.

— Brendan Pedersen

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