When U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) blocked an amendment aimed at fostering innovation in the cryptocurrency industry, it is unlikely he could have anticipated the ferocity of the reaction against him.
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which was set to include an array of protections for the growing cryptocurrency community but failed to be included in the final legislation due to a procedural tactic employed by Shelby to derail the amendment.
The bill includes provisions that are viewed to be detrimental to the American cryptocurrency industry. Industry activists pressed lawmakers to address concerns related to redefining regulation and reporting requirements. In response, a bipartisan group of senators led by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) introduced an amendment to protect the industry from burdensome regulatory provisions, which many believe will drive innovation overseas.
Shelby blocked this effort by introducing an unrelated amendment to increase defense spending, which was blocked by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The crypto protection amendment was introduced a second time by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) after Shelby failed to pass his amendment.
Alabama’s senior Senator in turn blocked it once more.
Toomey on the senate floor blasted Shelby for his refusal to allow the amendment to be tacked into the bill.
“Because there’s a difference of opinion on whether or not the senator from Alabama should get a vote on his amendment, because that is not agreed to, the body is refusing to take up an amendment that has broad bipartisan support, that we all know fixes something that badly needs to be fixed,” said Toomey.
After Toomey’s amendment to protect the emerging American industry failed, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced a similar amendment designed to support crypto innovation and solidify privacy protections. According to The Hill, The Texas senator blasted the current version, which passed on Tuesday, saying it would “block rapid innovation in cryptocurrencies.” Shelby blocked Cruz’s amendment as well.
Leaders in cryptocurrency took to social media to slam Shelby over his successful bid to derail the amendment.
Richard Shelby of Alabama, who is retiring, attempted to tack on a $50B defense spending amendment in exchange for supporting the Warner, Toomey, Sinema, Lummis amendment.
Bernie Sanders objected to that tack-on.
Richard Shelby then blocked our crypto amendment. Disgusting.
— Robert Leshner (@rleshner) August 9, 2021
After blocking the amendment multiple times, Shelby later claimed that he supported the amendment but did not allow it to pass since his defense amendment was not included.
I supported @SenToomey cryptocurrency amdt. I know of its importance to innovation & job creation, but I believe it pales in comparison to the security of our nation–which is why I called for a vote on my defense infrastructure amdt. It's unfortunate that Dems blocked both amdts.
— Richard Shelby (@SenShelby) August 10, 2021
Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL