Issue: In an effort to boost GOP support, House Democrats have added two provisions to The Secure and Fair Enforcement (“SAFE”) Banking Act. The latest version of the legislation, which would shield financial services companies from providing services to marijuana vendors legal under state law, now also contains specific language protecting hemp businesses, as well as prohibiting the revival of “Operation Choke Point,” when the Obama Administration investigated banks doing business with firearm dealers, payday lenders, and other companies it believed were high risks for fraud and money laundering.
Impact: Some House Democrats have argued for a more comprehensive solution that includes de-scheduling cannabis and criminal justice reform measures. However, such a bill would likely cost support among Republicans needed to pass the bill in the Senate. So far, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) has successfully kept controversial provisions out of the bill.
Next Steps: The House is expected to consider The SAFE Banking Act under the suspension of the rules early next week. This means that there will be no Floor amendments and the bill will require 2/3 majority support for passage. Including the hemp and Choke Point language will help build on momentum in the Senate. Growing the now legal hemp industry is a priority for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), while Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) and other Republicans have long sought a legislative solution to prevent future administrations from Choke Pointenforcement actions which target legitimate commercial operations.
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