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11 Lawmakers Urge US Treasury to Consider Blockchain for COVID-19 Relief

Written by: Nikhilesh De

29 Apr 2020

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Eleven members of Congress are calling on the U.S. Treasury Department to look at new technologies, including blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT), to help streamline how cash and supplies are distributed under a federal law trying to boost the economy during the COVID-19 crisis.

A letter addressed to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin points to blockchain and DLT as secure "new mechanisms" for moving money quickly and transparently, which could in turn boost liquidity in distributing funds via the federal CARES Act.

U.S. Congressman Darren Soto (D-Fla.) spearheaded the letter, dated April 23 but released publicly on Tuesday, April 28, 2020.

Reps. 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) joined Soto in signing the letter.

"We understand your primary mission is to deliver urgent and necessary assistance to America's small businesses and working families," the letter says. "As the pandemic continues to impact the economy, we look forward to supporting the Administration's efforts to get American small businesses running while also prioritizing health, safety and proper oversight."

However, the letter says, the Treasury Department can take "additional steps" to improve its efforts.

"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," the letter says. "Such steps will ensure both that America retains its technological advantage and that relief is delivered quickly to the small businesses and individuals who need it most."

The letter points to China's rollout of its own blockchain system as an example of other nations pursuing the same technology.

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