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Senators Will ‘Do Our Best’ To Pass Marijuana Banking Bill ‘In A Bipartisan Way,’ Schumer Says



Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has once again included a bipartisan marijuana banking bill in a list of legislative priorities he hopes to advance this year.

During a press briefing on Tuesday, Schumer was asked about what’s on the chamber’s agenda after senators passed a foreign aid package this week.

He said that “we have a bunch of different bills” that will “all have to work in a bipartisan way, and we’ll do our best to get many of them done.”

That includes “trying to deal with” the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act “and cannabis reform,” Schumer said. He also listed legislation addressing insulin pricing, online child safety and railway safety as priorities.

“We’ve got a lot to do,” the majority leader said. “And if we can work in a bipartisan way, we will.”

Schumer has made repeated pledges to move the SAFER Banking Act since it cleared the Senate Banking Committee last September. And now that the Senate has 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.

Bipartisan and bicameral lawmakers have become increasingly vocal about different mechanisms through which they might be able to advance the cannabis banking measure, including the possibility of moving it as part of a package with cryptocurrency regulations legislation that could be attached to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization measure.

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 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.

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 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.

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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.

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.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, founding co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, told Marijuana Moment last week 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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