Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tennessee, called for cryptocurrency legislation on Thursday as Congress comes out of its summer recess, arguing that a lack of clear regulation could push the industry outside the U.S.

“It’s a dire environment,” Haggerty told an audience at the liberal-leaning Cato Institute. “For companies trying to invest and expand, it forces them to look overseas for a more favorable regulatory environment.”

Before the collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried-led cryptocurrency exchange FTX last November, the need for cryptocurrency regulation was largely bipartisan. Committees in the House and Senate have introduced bills covering different areas of the industry, from stablecoins to market structures.

Complicating matters with Bankman-Fried’s frequent presence in D.C. and his prodigious donation habit, many lawmakers, especially Democratic ones, have called for any legislative discussions to be slowed down. Meanwhile, agencies including the SEC have stepped up enforcement efforts, much to the chagrin of the cryptocurrency industry.

Haggerty has become a leading voice in the Senate cryptocurrency space.While he hasn’t introduced any bills this year, he has written open letters to key officials on digital asset regulation, including one in march Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Chairman Marty Gruenberg, and Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael Hsu believe that financial institutions are critical of cryptocurrency companies. The pressure “seems disturbingly reminiscent of the ‘Operation Choke Point’ popular within the cryptocurrency industry.

At the Cato event on Thursday, Hagerty called for a gradual approach to crypto legislation, pointing to a two-page stablecoin bill he has proposed in 2021. “I admire my colleagues, but they seem to value legislation based on its page count,” he said.

Haggerty denounced the SEC’s “enforcement oversight” approach, arguing instead that congressional agencies such as the Senate Banking Committee should hold more oversight hearings with SEC Chairman Gary Gensler.He expressed confusion over why Gensler became a leading critic of the cryptocurrency industry after teaching a blockchain class at MIT, citing Report Gensler even approached cryptocurrency exchange Binance as an advisor.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) pushed back against Republican criticism, with Enforcement Director Gurbir Grewal saying in June that cryptocurrencies present a “perfect storm of investor risk.” The SEC brought 13 charges against Binance in a lawsuit earlier this month.

Haggerty joined other Republican lawmakers in criticizing central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), which he said could bring the U.S. closer to China in regulating economic behavior. He mentioned Saule Omarova, President Joe Biden’s OCC nominee, who called for a government-led digital currency after the banking crisis in March.

“It would be very concerning to look for a crisis and then try to advocate for something,” Haggerty said.

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