T Skevington and M Bacina
Back to the Future? Blockchain back on the menu for US stimulus package
In an open letter to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, 11 members of Congress have asked the US Treasury Department to consider a range of new technologies, including Blockchain, to streamline the rollout of funds via the federal CARES Act.
The Letter acknowledges that the Treasury's primary objective is to ensure appropriate assistance is given to American families and business, but suggests that "additional steps" could be taken by Treasury to use technology to assist with this objective. In particular, the letter provides that:
We thus strongly encourage the Treasury Department to utilize private sector innovations such as blockchain and DLT to support the necessary functions of government to distribute and track relief programs and direct that all guidance support the use of technology to facilitate delivery of CARES Act benefits
As was made clear in the congressional hearings on Libra last year, the knowledge that China is making strides in this space is clearly still causing concern in Washington, with the letter providing:
Among the most important and relevant are new mechanisms capable of moving money and providing liquidity quickly, securely, and transparently, including through reliance on blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLT), a point not lost on China which recently announced its own plans to launch a national blockchain platform in the coming days.
The Letter was written by U.S. Congressman Darren Soto (D-Fla.) and signed by a bipartisan group of representatives, including Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), Bill Posey (R-Fla.) and Ben McAdams (D-Utah) and Delegate Stacey Plaskett (D-U.S. Virgin Islands).
In comments to CoinDesk about the letter, congressman Soto identified the need to find more efficient ways of delivering stimulus, suggesting that:
During this terrible crisis there are certain opportunities to advance technologies,
I believe it’s worth at least doing pilot programs... [and] The results of these pilots can inform what a next step might look like