Eleven members of the U.S. Congress are asking the Treasury Department to use blockchain technology to aid in distributing COVID-19 relief funds.
The U.S. government recently passed the CARES Act for distributing funds to help people and businesses, but the aid is slow in coming to many.
Now, 11 members of Congress are asking that blockchain technology be used to help facilitate the funds.
Turning to blockchain
This request was made in a recent letter from the lawmakers to Steven Mnuchin, secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department. The letter was sent on April 23 but was made public on April 28.
The letter was initiated by Representative Darren Soto and signed by 10 other lawmakers.
The additional congressional members include:
- Tom Emmer (R-MN)
- David Schweikert (R-AZ)
- Ro Khanna (D-CA)
- Stacey E. Plaskett (D-U.S. Virgin Islands)
- Warren Davidson (R-OH)
- Ted Budd (R-NC)
- Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
- Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH)
- Bill Posey (R-FL)
- Ben McAdams (D-UT)
The letter begins by praising the efforts of the Treasury Department in implementing the CARES Act to combat the economic effects of COVID-19. The letter continues:
“We understand your primary mission is to deliver urgent and necessary assistance to America’s small businesses and working families. 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.”
‘Additional steps’ called for, blockchain seen as ‘innovative new technology’
The congressional letter then says that there are “additional steps” the Treasury Department can take.
Of primary importance is the use of innovative new technology, specifically the “new mechanisms capable of moving money and providing liquidity quickly, securely, and transparently, including through reliance on blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLT).”
The letter exhorts 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.”
Representative Soto serves as the co-chair of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus.
The CARES Act features multiple programs to help businesses and people, as the U.S. seeks to keep the national economy from collapsing. The bill authorizes US$367 billion [AU$559 billion] in loans via the Small Business Administration.
It also provides temporary unemployment benefits to those who are not traditionally eligible, such as self-employed individuals, and the bill also authorizes payments of $1,200 to individuals if their gross income is less than $75,000.
The problem is that federal and state agencies are swamped due to the effects of COVID-19. Many agencies are shut down as employees are working from home.
This has led to major delays in processing paperwork and websites are crashing under the strain of millions of applications.
Quite a few individuals have already received their payment of $1,200, but the IRS said it may take until September for all those eligible to get their money.
As one can see, the use of blockchain technology, properly implemented, could be a tremendous boon in speeding up the process.