Reaching out to the public for feedback appears to be unpopular in the US administration.
Earlier this month, it became evident that the SEC has been consistently shortchanging the public during the rulemaking process. Now the America COMPETES Act, a bill that was introduced to “reinvigorate the innovation engine of our economy to outcompete China,” would remove the public notice requirements from the Treasury’s enforcement abilities under the Bank Secrecy Act.
At nearly 3,000 pages, there’s much to consider in the new bill. However, Section 60202 is particularly concerning. The House Committee on Financial Services described the section by saying, "Representative Jim Himes (D-CT) has included a provision that streamlines the procedure for introducing special measures and modernizes the powers granted to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)." Streamlining and modernizing government is usually a pleasant change of pace, but what it truly means is that the public is being left out.
The public is currently involved in the decision-making process to guarantee that the Secretary of the Treasury does not abuse the "exceptional measures." The existing statute requires a notice of proposed rulemaking as well as a 120-day enforcement period before the Treasury can act. The America COMPETES Act, on the other hand, repeals both the public notification requirement and the 120-day enforcement limit.
If this disrespect for checks and balances wasn't enough, the bill further updates the statute to include "prohibitions or conditions on some fund transmittals." The bottom line is that if someone from outside the US is involved in a transaction and the Treasury judges it to be a money laundering risk, the Treasury Secretary has the authority to prohibit the transaction. For example, if a miner outside the United States validates bitcoin transactions, the Treasury can restrict U.S. banks, exchanges, and other financial institutions from participating in the transactions.
It was first characterized by Jerry Brito and Peter Van Valkenburgh as,
It appears that the country is once again confronted with another shining illustration of why must-pass bills, which can run into the thousands of pages, do not operate in the spirit of democracy.
In other words, it is an attempt … to use the moral panic surrounding criminal usage of cryptocurrencies … to strip our surveillance laws of all public processes.
The America COMPETES Act is intended to assist the United States in competing with China. Rep. Jim Himes (D-CTsection )'s of the bill appears to be a carbon copy of China's disrespect for privacy, due process, and democracy. The section in question should not only be removed today, but it should also be withdrawn from further consideration, as it was also removed last year when it was first included in the National Defense Authorization Act. There is no reason for an unelected person wielding that much authority without oversight.
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