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Schumer Says Passing Marijuana Banking Bill Is Part Of The Senate’s ‘Busy Agenda’ In The ‘Weeks And Months Ahead’



Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is reiterating his intent to pass legislation to “safeguard cannabis banking” as part of a “busy agenda” that he hopes to achieve in the “weeks and months ahead,” though he again stressed the need for bipartisan cooperation.

In a Dear Colleague letter on Friday, Schumer said the Senate has a variety of priorities when members return from a state work period next week. He said “we have the opportunity to make progress on bipartisan bills,” including advancing the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act.

“There are many important, bipartisan issues this Congress could address this year, and I hope our Senate Republican colleagues don’t allow the ultra-right wing of their party derail progress on the bipartisan bills,” the majority leader said.

“In the weeks and months ahead, we have the opportunity to make progress on bipartisan bills that enhance our national security, advance online safety for kids and promote innovation, expand the Child Tax Credit, work on a path forward on TikTok legislation, combat the fentanyl crisis, hold failed bank executives accountable, address rail safety, ensure internet affordability, safeguard cannabis banking, outcompete the Chinese government, lower the cost of prescription drugs like insulin while expanding access to health care, and more.”

“I have said repeatedly this Congress, with divided government, bipartisanship and compromise are the only ways to make progress and get things done that will help the American people,” his letter concludes. “Democrats have an ambitious agenda to help the American people, and if our Senate Republican colleagues are sincere about passing bipartisan legislation and willing to reject the extreme MAGA demands, we are ready to work with them to find compromise and get as much done as we can.”

This is one of multiple examples of Schumer describing his intent to pass the marijuana banking legislation, which cleared the Senate Banking Committee last September and is now pending action on the floor before potentially moving to the House, which has passed earlier versions of the proposal in some form seven times in recent sessions.

He also recently asked people to show their support for the SAFER Banking Act by signing a petition as he steps up his push for the legislation. A poll released last month by the American Bankers Association (ABA) shows that roughly three out of five Americans support allowing marijuana industry access to the banking system.

In the latest Dear Colleague letter, Schumer also criticized the House Republican Study Committee for putting out a “dangerous and disastrous” budget plan. That same panel also recently urged the GOP caucus to oppose the cannabis banking measure, as well as a separate bipartisan proposal to prevent security clearance denials based on past cannabis use.

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), who also sits on that committee, said on Wednesday that that “if Republicans want to keep the House,” they should pass the marijuana banking bill, arguing that “there are votes” to approve it.

Schumer told Marijuana Moment last month that the bill remains a “very high priority” for the Senate, and members are having “very productive” bicameral talks to reach a final agreement.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) also said last month that passing the SAFER Banking Act off the floor is a “high priority.” However, he also recently said in a separate interview that advancing the legislation is complicated by current House dynamics.

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House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) separately said during a recent American Bankers Association (ABA) summit that he wants to see the SAFER Banking Act move.

He said that, “for whatever reason, the federal government has been slow” to act on the incremental reform that he supports even though he doesn’t identify as “a marijuana guy.”

One key factor that’s kept the bill from the Senate floor is disagreement over mostly non-cannabis provisions dealing with broader banking regulations, primarily those contained in Section 10 of the legislation.

Bicameral negotiations have been ongoing, however, and recent reporting suggests that a final deal could be just over the horizon.

The Democratic Senate sponsor of the SAFER Banking Act, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), told Marijuana Moment last month that the legislation is “gaining momentum” as lawmakers work to bring it to the floor and pass it “this year.”

The office of the Republican SAFER Banking prime sponsor, Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), separately told Marijuana Moment that “conversations have been productive and Senator Daines is working to get the bill across the finish line.”

At the close of the first half of the 118th Congress in December, Schumer said in a floor speech that lawmakers would “hit the ground running” in 2024, aiming to build on bipartisan progress on several key issues, including marijuana banking reform—though he noted it “won’t be easy.”

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