Infrastructure Bill Advances in Senate, Crypto Amendments Await Vote

A $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill has moved closer to passing, but senators still need to address two competing cryptocurrency-related amendments that seek to clarify tax reporting requirements.

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key takeaways

  • The $1 trillion infrastructure bill crucial to Biden’s agenda passed a key hurdle in the Senate Saturday
  • Senators need to settle the debate between two competing cryptocurrency-related amendments before a final vote is made

A $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill has moved closer to passing after clearing a major hurdle in the Senate on Saturday. Senators voted 67-27 to end debate but will have to resolve the conflict over two competing cryptocurrency-related amendments before a final vote will be made. 

The bill, a key part of President Joe Biden’s agenda, would put an unprecedented amount of federal funds into a range of programs, including education, and road, bridge, rail, port and airport improvements, among others.

The original proposal includes a provision which would require cryptocurrency ‘brokers,’ an undefined term, to disclose trader information, including gains made on investments, transfers and transactions of more than $10,000, which the IRS already monitors. The provision is estimated to bring in $28 million in tax revenue. 

Crypto amendments

A series of final hour cryptocurrency-related amendments to the bill were proposed in the days leading up to Saturday’s vote. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), and Cynthia Lummis (R., Wyo.) introduced an amendment Wednesday to provide clarification into the term “broker.” 

On Thursday, a competing amendment was introduced from senators Rob Portman (R., Ohio), Mark Warner (D., Va) and Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.), which required proof-of-stake developers  to report holder and trading information, but not proof-of-work. 

On Saturday, Warner and colleagues updated their amendment to exempt both proof-of-work and proof-of-stake validators from reporting requirements. 

Digital asset advocates appear to favor Wyden’s proposed amendment. United States Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen is lobbying against this amendment, according to the Washington Post.

White House support

The Biden administration has backed the original proposal and does not support Wyden’s amendment. 

“I would just go back to the overarching objective here which is reducing tax evasion in the cryptocurrency market, and we feel that the compromise sponsored by Senators Warner, Portman, and Sinema is a good option,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Friday. 

Industry leaders like Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and CEO of FTX, are not debating the need for 1099 reporting requirements for exchanges like FTX and Coinbase. Rather they are fearing the potential loss of innovation and technological advances for the US as miners and software developers move offshore.

Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) echoed this fear while speaking on the Senate floor this afternoon. “If we pass this bill, mark my words, it’s going to have a chilling effect on innovation and what you’ll see is the flight of innovation and investment related to innovation to offshore locations around the world,” he said. 

Senate Republicans have signaled that they will slow down the final voting timeline as much as possible. Eighteen Republicans sided with Democrats in shutting down debates Saturday afternoon. Bill Hagerty, a freshman Republican senator from Tennessee, said that he is “not inclined to expedite this process whatsoever.” 

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