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House Marijuana Banking Bill Sponsor Is ‘Confident’ It Will Advance Through Senate Despite Obstacles

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The fight continues to get the Senate to pass a marijuana banking reform bill, and the measure’s House sponsor says he’s “confident” that the opposite chamber will finally take it up.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) has been trying to get the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act across the finish line for several years now, and his latest attempt is to pass it as part of a large-scale manufacturing and innovation bill to which the cannabis language was recently attached in the House.

In an interview with Yahoo Finance on Friday, the congressman discussed the prospects of his proposal, which has cleared the House six times in some form now. He said that while Senate leadership has insisted on passing comprehensive legalization first, he still sees opportunities to advance his bipartisan incremental reform.

“Every [House] Democrat and at least half the Republicans have supported SAFE Banking, and I am confident that the Senate will take it up,” he said. He recognized that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and colleagues are prioritizing broad legalization legislation that they plan to formally file in April, but he said that he’s “questioned whether they have the votes to get something of that magnitude through the Senate, which has not even had a hearing really on marijuana in 50 plus years.”

“We’re going to keep working with the Senate, working with Schumer’s office, working with [Sen. Cory Booker’s (D-NJ)] office working with [Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT)], a Republican who is championing this bill in the Senate, and we’re going to get it across the finish line,” Perlmutter said. “I am really pretty confident about it, whether it’s with the [the America COMPETES Act] or something else, we’re going to get it done.”

The congressman, who is retiring at the end of the session and has committed himself to getting SAFE Banking enacted before then, also talked about the political dynamics that have prevented his reform bill from moving through the Senate.

Under prior GOP control, it stalled because a key Republican committee chairman felt it was too broad, he said. Under Democratic control, it’s yet to advance because leadership feels it’s too narrow.

He reiterated that he would be open to further amending the proposal to satisfy Schumer and his colleagues.

“They’re in support of it, but they just want to try to get some bigger pieces to it,” he said. “If they can add research, if they can add some criminal justice reform, if they can add some taxation components, I’m all for it. But we need to get something passed and on to the president this year.”

He made similar comments in response to a question from Marijuana Moment during a press briefing last week, when he also discussed possible consequences of expanding the reform proposal too much to the point where it loses some critical Republican support.

“Really, I’m pretty confident that it’s going to happen,” he said in the new interview. “I think this is the bill that’s going to break the ice, and then other things can be added or advocated for over the course of the next few months or years.”

Meanwhile, some Republicans are scratching their heads about how Democrats have so far failed to pass the modest banking reform with majorities in both chambers and control of the White House, too. For example, Rep. Rand Paul (R-KY) criticized his Democratic colleagues over the issue in December.

In the interim, federal financial regulator Rodney Hood—a board member and former chairman of the federal National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)—recently said that marijuana legalization is not a question of “if” but “when,” and he’s again offering advice on how to navigate the federal-state conflict that has left many banks reluctant to work with cannabis businesses.

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