Congress and Crypto in 2021

Congress and Crypto in 2021

In 2021, members of Congress started accumulating crypto in their personal portfolios, and introduced more bills than ever focusing on crypto policy, 35 of them to be exact. Politicians have historically been opposed to cryptocurrencies, however, 2021’s crypto bull run garnered some attention from Washington, and not just by trying to pass legislation to regulate it. Some members of Congress took stances suggesting they are highly against it, such as Senator and former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.

Others have vocalized support for it, such as Senator Ted Cruz.

While the future of crypto regulation in Washington is uncertain, there is certainty that crypto is here to stay, regardless of what tax and financial disclosure legislation are introduced in the future.

Recent reports state that the US Federal Reserve will be releasing a USD based stable coin. With this proposal, the Fed shows interest in utilizing digital currency offered alongside a physical dollar. There is not much commentary on this proposal at the time of writing, but given its recent introduction, we should hear more announcements from the Fed soon.

Biden’s infrastructure bill also snuck in some crypto legislation. Brokers/exchanges are required to report crypto transactions directly to the IRS, effectively ending the tax avoidance aspect of crypto. Summarized, the bill effectively states investors should:

  1. Keep track of the cost basis for your coins. You need to know what you originally paid for your position, so reporting to the IRS during tax season goes smoothly.
  2. Be as transparent as possible reporting your investments in crypto. From what you paid for it, to what you’re holding. The IRS considers these imperative to keep tabs on.

Recently, we released a report on how Congress traded in 2021.

Spoiler: In 2021, Congress traded:

  • $290,000,000 in stocks
  • $140,000,000 in options
  • $124,000,000 in other securities (PE funds and crypto)

There’s a LOT of information in there, and it’s definitely worth the read if you haven’t seen it already.

With that, let’s look more into crypto and how Washington has positioned themselves with trades, as well as support.

How did politicians trade crypto in 2021?

In 2021, there were 25 total crypto trades across 12 different cryptocurrencies, showing curiosity and interest in the cryptocurrency industry. However, across 435 House seats and 100 Senate seats, the total (disclosed) representation in Congress was a mere 1.12% of total seats, or 6 members.

House Representatives Mark Green, Michael Waltz, Felix Moore and Marie Newman, and Senators Cynthia Lummis and Patrick Toomey were involved in trading cryptocurrencies.

But how did these members trade crypto in 2021?

We see that the majority of members who have invested are holding onto those assets. The only one who chose to sell off some of their crypto was House Republican Mark Green.

In the above chart, half a dozen Members of Congress have their hands directly in cryptocurrencies. However, many more have indirect exposure to the industry through their stock and options trading throughout 2021. As more big companies jump into the metaverse and adopt blockchain technologies, more portfolios will gain exposure to the sector. This next section will explore trading by politicians who have invested in companies that have announced crypto strategies or who support the industry.

Why are each of these companies related to crypto?


AMD and NVDA

AMD ($AMD) and NVidia ($NVDA) graphics cards support crypto mining infrastructure. Miners buy these cards up by the hundreds in hopes of using the GPUs as a means of generating passive income, so naturally, the only players in the GPU market would capitalize from this.

COIN, MA, PYPL, and SQ

Each of these companies effectively function as brokers and exchanges, though only Coinbase (COIN) directly facilitates purchase/sale of a wide array of coins. PayPal (PYPL), and Square (SQ) allow purchase/sale of popular currencies, as well as sending currency to other accounts, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum to accounts on their platform. MasterCard (MA) will soon be processing crypto transactions on their network, expanding the network of three Asian banks to the technology.

Though the involvement with these currencies is not the majority share of their company’s profits, it still exposes investors to the industry indirectly. Congress disclosed a bunch of transactions in these companies in 2021.

Politician's indirect exposure to crypto

Excluded from the dataset due to its extreme size, House Speaker Pelosi reported over $6 million in NVDA purchases, comprising the vast majority of investments, and totaling approximately 50% of all investments in this group of tickers. If you’re curious how Speaker Pelosi is trading, check out the Unusual Whales Pelosi ETF, which tracks all trades, profit, and loss of what Speaker Pelosi’s portfolio holds.

Legislation

As mentioned in the beginning of the report, members of Congress proposed 35 bills relating to cryptocurrency in 2021.

These bills include policy such as:

Read up on them if you’re inclined, though it is clear Congress recognizes the influence crypto has on modern society, and is intent on developing regulatory frameworks in the very near future.

For those in Congress holding direct investments in crypto, we wanted to breakdown their purchases.

Senate

R - Cynthia Lummis

Senator Lummis purchased upwards of $100,000 in Bitcoin (BTC). Lummis, a vocal supporter of cryptocurrency, is set to introduce a bill in 2022 which is said to offer guidance on asset classes, introduce protections for consumers and regulations of stable coins, and create a new arm to the CFTC and SEC to oversee crypto markets.

R - Patrick Toomey

While Senator Toomey only purchased up to $30,000 in crypto in 2021. The Senator purchased equal stakes in Grayscale’s Bitcoin and Ethereum trust, which provides exposure to Bitcoin and Ethereum through a traditional market investment.

In a report from the Senate's website, Toomey was quoted saying.

“Rather than trying to ignore or suppress cryptocurrency and related technologies, regulators and legislators alike need to recognize that open, public networks are here to stay. Our laws and regulations must adapt to these developments”

He was also vocal about his stance against the infrastructure bill’s cryptocurrency provisions on Twitter:

It’s clear Senator Toomey is in support of crypto, and not just through his financial portfolio.

House

R - Mark Green

Congressman Mark Green was the first politician on the Hill to disclose investing in cryptocurrencies. In March 2021, he bought BAT and CELO and one month later bought DOGE, EOS, ETC, XLM and LINK. While Rep. Green has not vocalized support publicly, his financial disclosures suggest that he is a believer in alternative currencies.

R - Michael Waltz

Waltz purchased upward of $100,000 in Bitcoin (BTC) in 2021, so his personal stance on use of the currency is fairly transparent. While not a vocal supporter of crypto, it is expected that he will back Senator Lummis’ bill on pro-crypto legislation due to his involvement in the Congressional Blockchain Caucus and investments in crypto.

D - Marie Newman

While not participating directly in crypto transactions, Congresswoman Newman does own upwards of a $50,000 stake in the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, alongside Senator Toomey.

R - Felix (Barry) Moore

Congressman Moore purchased over $50,000 between Cardano (ADA) and Ethereum (ETH) in 2021, with no sales. Rep. Moore was also involved in the boom of dogecoin (DOGE), and continues to hold the meme-driven coin to this day.

Conclusions

While not overwhelmingly backed by Congress, there is valid and legitimate support from members hinting that future support for cryptocurrency is on the way. Though these members directly involved in crypto only total 6, 29 total members have participated in trades involving cryptocurrency or cryptocurrency related companies, suggesting support for pro-crypto legislation might be higher in 2022.

When we hear of new changes, don’t worry, Unusual Whales will be covering it.