Bitcoin group descends on Congress

A new bitcoin lobbying group descended on Capitol Hill on Friday, in a bid to familiarize congressional staffers with the digital currency.

The Chamber of Digital Commerce brought more than 30 people from the bitcoin industry to Washington to talk to dozens of congressional offices about the benefits of the money, which Congress has approached with some skepticism.

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The trip was sponsored by Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas), an ardent supporter of the virtual money who was one of the first political candidates to accept it in his failed bid to unseat Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) earlier this year. 

Friday’s “Bitcoin Education Day” was a “breakthrough event,” Stockman said in a statement, “taking Washington’s grasp of bitcoin up to a much higher level.”

In all, advocates spoke with representatives from 70 congressional offices, the trade group said.

The Chamber of Digital Commerce opened its doors just a month ago and has pledged to influence lawmakers on behalf of the emerging bitcoin industry. In recent days, it registered a political action committee with the Federal Election Committee to spread cash to political candidates and party committee, though CEO Perianne Boring told The Hill that it has yet to identify lawmakers it will support.

Bitcoin, which only exists virtually, can revolutionize the way that people spend money and send payments around the globe, advocates have said. Critics have worried about its relatively anonymous nature, however, and pointed to the potential for it to be used by criminals and terrorists for laundering money.   

Bitcoin is not entirely foreign to Congress.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) hosted an event highlighting the money on Capitol Hill earlier this year, and even bought $10 worth of the money at an ATM kiosk created by a bitcoin company.