Republican Lawmakers Who Oppose a Fed-Issued CBDC Ask for US Justice Department's Assessment

A group of Republican lawmakers on the House Financial Services Committee have asked U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to share the Justice Department's assessment on whether the Federal Reserve has the necessary authority to issue a central bank digital currency (CBDC).

The Justice Department has published two reports in response to President Joe Biden's March executive order on crypto, one on information sharing in crypto crimes internationally and one announcing the formation of a group of prosecutors who would specialize in crypto crimes. Another report, which would detail whether Congress would have to authorize a CBDC or not, has yet to be published.

The latter report is what the lawmakers, who include the committee's ranking member, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-North Carolina) and French Hill (R-Arkansas), are asking Garland to share.

The lawmakers believe that the Fed does not have the authority necessary to issue a CBDC, the letter said, which also pointed to requests from Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Vice Chair Lael Brainard calling on Congressional action.

"As you know, Congress’ authority over coining money is exclusive. The Supreme Court has recognized Congress’ power to coin money and regulate the value thereof, confirming Congress’ authority to regulate each phase of currency. Relatedly, Congress may charter banks and grant them the right to issue circulating notes, and it may restrain the circulation of notes not issued under its own authority," the letter said.

The lawmakers set an Oct. 15 deadline for Garland to respond.