President Joe Biden and his administration have pushed for the development of a central bank digital currency (CBDC), which some critics fear would be tightly managed by the federal government and be used to replace the physical dollar, monitor the purchases of individual citizens, and even exert control over what sort of spending habits for individuals would be permitted or disapproved.
Congressional Republicans are largely opposed to the idea, and several pieces of legislation have been introduced to either completely prohibit the creation of a U.S. CBDC or at least restrict the government's control over it, the Daily Wire reported.
It was in March 2022 that President Biden issued an executive order on "ensuring responsible development of digital assets" that directed relevant agencies of the federal government to study and report back on the creation, implementation, and use of a CBDC for the U.S.
That was followed in Sept. 2022 with the announcement of a "comprehensive framework" that had been created in accordance with the March order to guide the development and use of a CBDC.
Further, the Daily Wire noted that the Federal Reserve recently joined with several major U.S.-based financial institutions to further study and test the "feasibility" of making the transition to a digital dollar.
However, Republicans are pushing back against the push by the Biden administration and Federal Reserve to create a U.S. CBDC, with the most recent effort coming on Friday from Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) via the reintroduction of legislation that would bar the Federal Reserve and all federal agencies from moving forward with the creation of a government-controlled CBDC.
"The United States doesn't need to create a Central Bank Digital Currency to know it is a bad idea," Lee said in a statement. "We've seen this play out in China with the digital Yuan. In early trials, China canceled its citizens' money after a set period, forcing Chinese citizens to spend their savings at the compulsion of the government."
"My bill protects Americans from a similar intrusion by prohibiting the Federal Reserve or any federal government agency from minting or issuing a CBDC, whether through a direct-to-consumer or intermediated model," the Utah senator added.
Just a few days earlier, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), joined by Sens. Mike Braun (R-IN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), reintroduced legislation of his own that would similarly block the creation of a CBDC by the Federal Reserve that could be used as a "financial surveillance tool" against American citizens.
"The federal government has no authority to unilaterally establish a central bank currency," the Texas senator said. "This bill goes a long way in making sure big government doesn’t attempt to centralize or control cryptocurrency and instead, allows it to thrive in the United States. We should be empowering entrepreneurs, enabling innovation, and increasing individual freedom -- not stifling it."
Over in the House, Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) announced in a February press release that he had been joined at that time by at least nine other House Republicans as co-sponsors of a bill he dubbed the CBDC Anti-Surveillance State Act.
That legislation would specifically bar the Federal Reserve from directly issuing a digital U.S. dollar or using a CBDC as a tool to control the economy or set monetary policy.
"Any digital version of the dollar must uphold our American values of privacy, individual sovereignty, and free market competitiveness. Anything less opens the door to the development of a dangerous surveillance tool," Emmer said. "After all, America remains a technological leader not because we force innovations to adopt our values under regulatory duress, but because we allow technology that holds these values at their core to flourish."
Meanwhile, the Daily Wire noted that some Republican-led states, including Florida and South Dakota, have taken steps at the state level to similarly block or restrict the creation and usage of a CBDC within their sovereign borders.