Half way into the week it has already seen the launch of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus (an effort led by Rep Jared Polis and Rep Mick Mulvaney), and the opening of the DC Blockchain Center, an information hub for policymakers. The two initiatives reflect the growing interest around the technology in the US capitol.
Though interest has existed for some time – Polis himself began accepting bitcoin donations in 2014 – recent developments suggest the groundwork is being laid for more activity in the year ahead.
Polis said of the new legislative effort: “It’s vital for Americans, businesses and members of Congress to learn about blockchain technology so the US can continue to secure its stance as the global leader of ingenuity.”
2016 has thus far seen a number of events within the DC area aimed at educating policymakers and legislators, and there’s even been action within Congress itself, in the form of a non-binding resolution calling for national support for blockchain tech. Perhaps more notable is that Arizona Congressman David Schweikert has called for the technology to be used to alleviate long-standing issues in the administration of veterans health care.
While legislative proposals like the one submitted by Schweikert are certain to stir interest among some members of Congress, it’s unlikely that they or others will gain much traction in the absence of more education and advocacy by industry stakeholders.
In some ways, the Coin Center and Chamber of Digital Commerce initiatives actually complement one another in this light.
Whereas the caucus will work on the floor of Congress itself to build interest among those who might one day vote on pieces of blockchain legislation, the DC Blockchain Center, co-founded by startup incubator 1776, can act as a setting for discussion for those both inside and outside of the legislative process. “[The Center is] uniquely positioned to connect the dots for government agencies and drive massive scale success through our connections, resources and mentoring programs,” 1776 co-founder and CEO Evan Burnfield said of the launch.
Polis remarked earlier this week that the caucus is, in part, a vehicle for spreading that kind of in-depth awareness that would likely predate any significant legislative push.
He said in a statement: “It’s vital for Americans, businesses, and members of Congress to learn about blockchain technology so the US can continue to secure its stance as the global leader of ingenuity.”