Wicker Advances Blockchain Bill, Calls out Political Posturing on High Gas Prices

May 25, 2022

Click here to watch Senator Wicker’s opening statement.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today praised committee passage of legislation he sponsored to boost research into blockchain technology, while also calling out national Democrats for their political posturing on soaring gas prices.

Wicker’s comments came at a hearing to consider pending legislation, including the National R&D Strategy for Distributed Ledger Technology Act, which he introduced recently and is cosponsored by Senators Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Gary Peters, D-Mich. Their legislation would require the federal government to coordinate research and development efforts on distributed ledger technologies (DLT), including blockchain, and their applications.

“So far, most attention to blockchain has focused on financial applications, such as cryptocurrencies. Yet this focus overlooks its potential to transform our information systems to be more efficient, transparent, and secure across our supply chain, in government operations, and more,” Wicker said. “This bill would accelerate the impact of decades of publicly funded research in computing and cryptography.” 

The National R&D Strategy for Distributed Ledger Technology Act (S. 4109) would:

  • Require the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to, in coordination with other relevant Federal agencies, develop a national R&D strategy for DLT and its practical applications. 
  • Require the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue supporting research on DLT and its applications, with particular attention to several areas that are under-invested in by the private sector. 
  • Require the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to engage in an applied research project to study and demonstrate the potential benefits of DLT.

In his remarks to the committee, Wicker also addressed a bill titled the Transportation Fuel Market Transparency Act that would direct the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to identify price gouging and manipulation in oil and gas markets. Wicker has been critical of Democrats’ allegations of price gouging, writing a letter in March to the FTC asking the agency to produce evidence of oil market manipulation.

Wicker called the bill nothing more than an attempt to find a scapegoat for soaring gas prices. 

“Today, with gas prices hitting record highs, instead of reckoning with how the President’s own anti-domestic energy policies are contributing to this crisis, the President is looking for a scapegoat. This bill would do just that,” Wicker said. “This bill before us, which I cannot support, would empower the FTC to harass more small businesses and individuals, but it would do nothing to provide relief to the American people.”