Even with the continued push for six passages in the U.S. House, the Safe and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (SAFE) received another defeat on June 23rd.
The act, which many advocates hope will provide clarity and safe harboring to financial institutions serving the legal cannabis industries, was withdrawn Thursday from the COMPETES / USICA America Act, a broad piece of legislation that involves a historic investment to increase the production of American manufactured goods and addressing supply chain vulnerabilities to increase global competitiveness, among other priorities.
Approving SAFE Banking would improve security and opportunities for hundreds of thousands of people and boost economic development in most states, political director of the NORML reform group Morgan Fox said in a press release on Thursday.
“It’s amazing that this is now the sixth time SAFE Banking has been approved by the House but stopped by the Senate,” Fox said. “This very tight, incremental and necessary legislation has broad bipartisan support in both chambers, and it is incredibly disappointing that the policy continues to prevent itself from saving lives and helping struggling small businesses to alter and ultimately replace the market. “If there is a legislative version of the Twilight Zone, it looks like the SAFE Banking Act is stuck at the moment.”
SAFE Banking passed the U.S. House of Representatives five times between 2019 and 2021, including twice as a stand-alone bill, but stalled before moving to the Senate each time. This is despite the fact that the author of the bill, MP Ed Perlmutter, received widespread bipartisan support in his chamber, including a 321-101 roll-call vote in April 2021.
More recently, members of the House approved SAFE Banking for the sixth time through a package of block amendments to the U.S. COMPETES Act (Creating Opportunities to Significantly Promote Technology Excellence), which the House low passed in full with a vote of 222 to 210 on 4 February. .
RELATED: Representative Perlmutter makes final push on SECURITY banking
In late March, the Senate voted 68-28 to replace the text of the House Competitiveness Act (House Bill 4521) with the text of the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) 2021 and returned it. to be sent to the House.
The House rejected the superseded legislation and called for a conference to reconcile the differences. In a recent push among top Washington lawmakers to find a midpoint before the July 4 break, the goal is to pass legislation before the August break.
Part of that reconciliation process included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer accepting the GOP’s demand for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Senate Minority Mitch McConnell to remove SAFE Banking Act as an amendment to legislation. Punchbowl News informed Thursday morning.
This news was a disappointment, but not a surprise, said US Cannabis Council (USCC) CEO Steven Hawkins in a press release.
“Reforming cannabis banking is absolutely relevant to U.S. competitiveness, but it is not the core of that particular legislation,” he said. “It would always be a boost, and we thank the House and Senate congressmen who worked hard to keep SAFE Banking in the final version.”
Hawkins added that USCC members remain optimistic that SAFE Banking will find full approval this Congress because the legislation has such broad support on Capitol Hill and across the country, where state law dispensaries remain the target of criminals. looking for cash.
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“The support and the political will [are] there to get the SAFE Banking Act to the finish line, “Hawkins said.” We are encouraged by talks about combining the bill with other useful cannabis and criminal justice reforms. We look forward to working with our members and allies to help get the job done. “
In his drive to enact SAFE Banking before retiring at the end of his current term, Perlmutter said earlier this year that he would look for all possible avenues to pass the bill.
The Colorado veteran Democrat used social media after the sixth defeat of his bill Thursday.
“By excluding the SAFE Banking Act from the USICA / COMPETES bill, the Senate continues to ignore the public safety risk of forcing cannabis companies to negotiate with all the money,” he said. Twitter. “As a result of Senate inaction, they continue to kill people and rob businesses.”
Perlmutter added: “I will continue to push for SAFE Banking to be included in COMPETES, other legislative vehicles, or for the Senate to finally adopt the independent version of the bill that has been in the Senate for three and a half years.”
Schumer, who has continued to say he plans to sponsor a broader bill for full federal legalization with Senate colleagues Ron Wyden, D-Ore., And Cory Booker, DN.J., has repeatedly denied this without a presentation. formal. of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunities Act.