A new version of a congressional defense bill does not include marijuana banking reform following negotiations between the House and Senate. But the lead sponsor of the cannabis reform didn’t go down without a fight, filing an amendment in committee to attach the marijuana language to the legislation—though he ultimately didn’t insist on a vote.
While the House passed its initial version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in September with language to protect banks that work with state-legal cannabis businesses, those provisions were not attached to a new bicameral deal filed on Tuesday.
This latest iteration will now go through both chambers again before potentially being sent to the president’s desk.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), chief sponsor of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, didn’t force a vote on the amendment in the House Rules Committee—but its last-minute introduction sparked an impassioned debate within the panel, where multiple members expressed frustration over how Senate leadership has approached the issue.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA) sharply criticized Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who has insisted that broad justice-focused marijuana reform should be addressed before passing something like the SAFE Banking Act.
“I don’t really quite know what the hell his problem is,” McGovernor said, referring to Schumer. “But what he’s doing is he’s making it very difficult for a lot of small businesses—and minority-owned businesses, too—deal with the issue of cannabis to be able to move forward and to expand and to hire more people.”
Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, who is a lead negotiator on NDAA, also expressed frustration over how Senate leadership has approached the cannabis banking issue.
“The impact of this, as a practical matter, to not have the SAFE Banking Act is incredibly dangerous,” he said, adding that small businesses “basically have to run a cash business” and they “can’t do the normal banking that is available to them in the states where where marijuana is legal.”
“I even seriously considered saying, you know, we’re just gonna put it in and the Senate can deal with it,” Smith said. “But the bottom line is, if the majority leader in the Senate has this opinion—and it’s worth noting that the minority leader has a similar position in the Senate—they don’t want this included, that’s not the way the process works.”
Smith and other lawmakers said that while they …….