Senate Dems Flex Against House Dems on Marijuana SAFE Banking

Senate Dems Flex Against House Dems on Marijuana SAFE Banking

WASHINGTON – Top Senate Democrats are vowing to crush the hopes of their Democratic counterparts and derail the year-end push in the House to pass the SAFE Banking Act — a measure to allow locally-legal but federally prohibited marijuana firms to access the U. S. banking system.

Senate Democrats are vowing to hold firm on their pledge to not allow any marijuana normalization measures to move forward until they are coupled with social and restorative justice measures. That’s why the Secure and Fair Enforcement (or SAFE) Banking Act remains a nonstarter for key senators.

“It’s become too much about Wall Street and other banks and not enough about sentencing reform and it’s got to be both,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) told The News Station at the Capitol on Monday night.  

House Democrats tucked the cannabis banking measure inside the must pass National Defense Authorization Act (or NDAA). Instead of passing its own NDAA and then going to a formal conference committee with the House, it now looks like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is just trying to negotiate a final NDAA with House leaders.

“I just talked to [Sen.] Cory Booker about it. Update is: This can’t just be a Wall Street thing,” Brown said after voting Monday evening.

Brown chairs the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee  

“I’m the chair of the committee and Schumer is the majority leader and we want to work with the banks, but it’s not going to be unilateral. If the banks get their way, people continue — for minor drug offenses — to rot away in jail,” Brown said. “Schumer, when I talked to him about it, he is solid on this — it needs sentencing reform. People shouldn’t be in jail for minor drug offenses to give Wall Street a win.”

Still, some Senate Democrats – including Colorado’s two U.S. senators – and their House counterparts continue fighting behind the scenes to try to secure the inclusion of SAFE Banking in this year’s NDAA.

“I was on the phone this weekend with [House-sponsor Rep. Ed] Perlmutter,” Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) told The News Station at the Capitol on Monday evening. “He’s working on it. We’re working on it.”

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