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Facebook COO Faces Bipartisan Congressional Grilling Over Libra in October


Facebook will get yet another chance to try to win over the support of US lawmakers with regards to its Libra cryptocurrency project and other matters next month. According to Bloomberg, the social media giant’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg will testify before the U.S. House of Representatives possibly in late October.

Sandberg’s visit to Capitol Hill will be coming weeks after the co-creator of Libra David Marcus met with lawmakers to shed more light on tech company’s cryptocurrency efforts. The visit is also coming at a time when Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency has faced stiff resistance from U.S. officials including President Donald Trump.

Facebook on a friending effort in DC

In the recent past, Facebook has also appeared to be carrying out a subtle lobbying campaign. A little over a week ago the tech firm’s co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg visited Capitol Hill. This was nearly 18 months after his testimony in Congress last year.

Mark Zuckerberg testifies to House Reps in April 2018

Besides the myriad data abuse scandals that likely became the subject of discussions, Zuckerberg was also reportedly taken to task over the Libra cryptocurrency project. And just like was the case when Marcus testified before Congress in July, some legislators indicated last week that they would express their opposition to Libra in their meetings with him.

This included U.S. Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii who expressed fierce opposition to the planned crypto:

I just don’t like the Libra idea.

The Facebook CEO also met with Trump at the White House though the subject of the matter, including whether it touched on Libra, was not revealed.

The meeting between the U.S. president and the Facebook boss came two months after Trump criticized the tech firm’s cryptocurrency initiative. At the time, Trump argued that “if Facebook and other companies want to become a bank, they must seek a new Banking Charter and become subject to all Banking Regulations”.

Boom times for Libra lobbyists

Besides sending its high-ranking executives to Washington D.C., Facebook has also hired lobbyists on Capitol Hill with a view of seeing Libra through. Late last month, Facebook was reported to have signed up Washington D.C.-based lobbying firm FS Vector. The firm’s services were sought specifically for the Libra cryptocurrency project.

Prior to this, the tech behemoth had also hired a former aide of the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, Susan Zook. Her brief is to lobby on Libra.

In July, Facebook also hired other lobby shops to work on Libra matters and this included the Cypress Group and the Sternhell Group, according to Politico.

Between January and August this year, Facebook is understood to have spent over $7.5 million on lobbying in Washington D.C. These lobbying efforts have been on a variety of matters and not just Libra, however.