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Dean Phillips, a member of the United States House of Representatives running against Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination in the 2024 presidential election, said there are currently “very few” people in Congress who understand digital assets.

Speaking at the Crypto Presidential Forum in New Hampshire on Dec. 11, Phillips said he didn’t “know it all” about financial technology and cryptocurrency but criticized U.S. President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump for their positions. The U.S. lawmaker was the third presidential candidate to address the New Hampshire crowd after Republicans Vivek Ramaswamy and Asa Hutchinson.

“The two leading candidates right now, on both the left and the right, for the U.S. presidency are absolutely not in positions to understand it, prepare us for it, anticipate it, and lead us into the next century,” said Phillips, referring to crypto. “Joe Biden and Donald Trump, at their age and stage of life, are simply not the right people to lead us forward.”

He added:

“It is not irresponsible or unreasonable to think that your government would do two things at once: both consider regulations but at the same time consider how transformative in a positive way it can be.”

Dean Phillips speaking at the Crypto Presidential Forum on Dec. 11. Source: YouTube

Phillips said he had never personally invested in digital assets like Bitcoin (BTC) or nonfungible tokens (NFTs), adding any potential investments he might hold would be in a blind trust and citing conflicts of interest in his role as a lawmaker. Members of Congress must disclose investments, including those involving digital currency, but there are no significant consequences for lawmakers who delay filing.

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At the time of publication, all the presidential candidates who spoke at the Crypto Presidential Forum were trailing by more than double digits to President Biden and Trump, respectively, according to many polls. Ramaswamy has been one of the most outspoken Republicans on digital assets, releasing a crypto-focused policy platform at the North American Blockchain Summit in November.

While Trump’s campaign has delved into aspects of the digital asset space — selling his own line of NFTs — the former president has rarely spoken publicly on cryptocurrency. President Biden issued an executive order in 2022 to establish a regulatory framework for digital assets. Under the Biden administration, Justice Department officials have charged former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao and former Celsius CEO Alex Mashinsky.

Phillips suggested that disfunction within Congress had contributed to crypto bills not being signed into law, including the Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century Act, or FIT21. The bill, among others, has yet to face a full vote in the House following potential government shutdowns and Republican lawmakers dragging their feet on choosing a new House Speaker.

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