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Schumer Suggests Marijuana Banking Could Still Be Attached To Aviation Bill, As GOP House And Senate Leaders Reaffirm Opposition



Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has signaled he’s not giving up hope on attaching a marijuana banking bill to must-pass aviation legislation. But Republican leaders in both chambers represent roadblocks for the reform.

Shortly after unveiling his reintroduced legislation to federally legalize cannabis on Wednesday, Schumer was asked about the prospect of attaching marijuana banking and cryptocurrency regulations measures to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bill that’s being negotiated.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has already made clear that he’s opposed to that option, and anti-cannabis House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) said broadly that he’s against adding any unrelated measures to the FAA legislation, Bloomberg News reported.

But Schumer said on Wednesday that “there are lots of people who have different amendments not relevant to the FAA that want to get them on.”

“I’m one of those—but we have to get this done in a bipartisan way. And we’ll figure out the best way to get it done,” he said.

McConnell’s office told Marijuana Moment on Monday that the minority leader “continues to oppose marijuana banking,” without specifically responding to a question about whether he was resisting a push to adding the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act to the FAA legislation.

With new reporting that Johnson is also against advancing the package as part of the Federal Aviation Administration bill, it seems increasingly unlikely that the legislation will serve as the vehicle for the cannabis reform. There are other options, however, including the continued possibility that it moves as a standalone or attached to another bill in the lame duck session following the November elections, for example.

A Senate source told Marijuana Moment this week that SAFER Banking supporters on the Hill are hoping that other GOP leaders in favor of the proposal, such as the bill’s chief Republican sponsor Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), will put pressure on McConnell to let it advance.

That said, Bloomberg reported that Daines expressed skepticism about the FAA-marijuana banking-cryptocurrency package coming to fruition in an interview this week. Daines’s office has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

For his part, Schumer said on Tuesday that while the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) newly reported decision to propose marijuana rescheduling is a “historic step forward,” he remains “strongly committed” to advancing cannabis banking and legalization legislation this session.

Meanwhile, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) spoke out against the marijuana banking bill this week, linking the legal marketplace to a deadly 2022 shooting at a cannabis facility that involved people who “were all from China.”

The bipartisan support for the bill is evident, however. Just last week, the Republican vice chair of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. French Hill (R-AR) said he would support a hybrid marijuana banking and cryptocurrency regulation bill, saying “our country will benefit” if both reforms are enacted.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), separately said that “now is the time” to pass cannabis banking reform, and she’s “hopeful” lawmakers will “overcome” any potential challenge from McConnell as they work to advance the legislation.

Meanwhile, last week Schumer once again included the bipartisan marijuana banking bill in a list of legislative priorities he hopes to advance this year.

Since the Senate recently approved must-pass appropriations legislation and foreign aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, there are heightened expectations that floor action could be on the horizon.

Adding to those expectations is the recent introduction of a bill to incentivize expungements for past cannabis offenses at the state, local and tribal levels. Schumer has made clear he intends to attach that measure to the banking legislation on the floor.

Schumer 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 in March by the American Bankers Association (ABA) shows that roughly three out of five Americans support allowing marijuana industry access to the banking system.

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) said 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 in March 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) said in March 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.

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.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,400 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

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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 in March that the legislation is “gaining momentum” as lawmakers work to bring it to the floor and pass it “this year.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), founding co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, told Marijuana Moment last month that, “every day we’re closer on SAFE Banking, and negotiations “are ongoing in the House and Senate, and we are, in fact, making progress.”

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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