The concept of a digital dollar that can be used to provide U.S. taxpayers with stimulus payments to weather the economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has once again been floated by lawmakers.
Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) introduced a new proposal to have the federal government issue $2,000 per month to residents by minting a pair of $1 trillion coins and using these to back the payments. The Automatic BOOST to Communities Act (ABC Act) also brings back the idea of a digital dollar, describing the concept using similar language to a series of bills introduced last month.
Under the ABC Act, Congress would authorize the Fed to create “FedAccounts,” meaning “Digital Dollar Account Wallets,” which would allow U.S. residents, citizens and businesses located in the country to access financial services.
“No later than January 1, 2021, the Secretary shall offer all recipients of BOOST payments the option to receive their payments in digital dollar wallets,” Thursday’s bill read.
The idea first appeared in the original form of the “Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act” introduced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the “Financial Protections and Assistance for America’s Consumers, States, Businesses, and Vulnerable Populations Act” introduced by House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), envisioning a “FedAccount” system wherein the Federal Reserve – the U.S. central bank – would manage bank accounts for every resident, allowing it to directly deposit these payments.
Notably, these digital dollars are not stablecoins and do not appear to be based on a blockchain infrastructure of any sort.
The digital dollar mentions were removed from the subsequent version of the “Take Responsibility” act, and it is unclear whether Waters’ bill made much progress.
The idea was also brought up in an independent Senate bill introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the ranking member on the Committee for Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. While the Senate is in recess, an individual familiar with the Senator’s thinking said his office still intended to pursue the legislation.
Thursday’s bill goes beyond just stimulus payments however. The bill notes that FedAccount holders should have access to a variety of other services if it is passed, including “debit cards, online account access, automatic bill-pay, mobile banking and automatic teller machines maintained in conjunction with the United States Postal Services at its physical locations,” the bill read.
Thursday’s bill was cosponsored by Reps. Jesús García (D-Ill.), Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).
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