New House bill aims to ‘mitigate the risks’ El Salvador’s adoption of Bitcoin

Two US representatives introduced legislation aimed at mitigating the risks to the US of El Salvador adopting bitcoin as legal tender, following a Senate bill introduced in February that focuses on the same actions.

The bipartisan House bill, introduced by representatives Norma Torres (D-Calif.) and Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), aims to “mitigate the risks to the United States of El Salvador’s adoption of Bitcoin as legal currency.” It proposes legislation for a so-called Accountability for Cryptocurrency in El Salvador (ACES) Act, the name of the previous Senate bill.     

“Global financial institutions have studied and detailed the numerous risks of El Salvador’s adoption of Bitcoin, and the international community acknowledges the potential danger,” Rep. Torres said in a press release. “El Salvador is an independent democracy and we respect its right to self-govern, but the United States must have a plan in place to protect our financial systems from the risks of this decision, which appears to be a careless gamble rather than a thoughtful embrace of innovation.”

According to an April 4 announcement from Torres’ office, the bill “was introduced as companion legislation” to the Senate bill introduced on February 16 by Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), and Bill Cassidy (R-La.). Like that Senate bill, the House version would also require the State Department to produce a report on El Salvador’s bitcoin adoption and a plan to mitigate possible risks. 

The more recent bill is denoted H.R. 7391. Like its Senate counterpart, the House version would “require reports on the adoption of a cryptocurrency as legal tender in El Salvador, and for other purposes.” The bill was referred to the House Committee on Financial Services and House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Meanwhile, the Senate placed its own version of the bill on its legislative calendar, signaling that it has enough support from lawmakers to warrant further discussion. 

Rep. Torres serves as chair of the Central America Caucus, a bipartisan congressional group. Rep. Crawford is the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation.

El Salvador’s president Nayib Bukele, a bitcoin supporter who made the cryptocurrency legal tender last September, responded to the original Senate bill with tweets challenging the US. “We are not your colony, your back yard or your front yard,” Bukele said in a February 16 tweet. “Stay out of our internal affairs.”

Bukele is scheduled to speak at the Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami on April 7. 

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