Marijuana Banking Bill Will Get A Full House Floor Vote This Month, Sources Say
Published 31 mins ago
September 13, 2019
A bipartisan bill to protect banks that service marijuana businesses will get a House floor vote by the end of the month, four sources familiar with the plan told Marijuana Moment.
House leadership made the decision following a closed-door meeting on Thursday, where they also determined that the vote would be made using suspension of the rules—a procedure that is generally reserved for non-controversial legislation.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced the plan to the Democratic Caucus, informing members that the vote would be held during the last week of September.
Voting on suspension would require two-thirds of the chamber (290 members) to vote in favor of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act in order for it to pass. The bill, which cleared the House Financial Services Committee in March, currently has 206 cosponsors, including 26 Republicans.
No amendments would be allowed to be added on the floor under the suspension process.
Problems could arise if lawmakers aren’t able to rally additional votes from conservative members or if there’s pushback over the strategy from progressive lawmakers, though it is unlikely Democratic leadership would advance the bill if they didn’t believe they have the votes for passage.
While interest in resolving the banking issue is generally bipartisan, it’s within reason to assume that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle might have wanted the opportunity to offer provisions such as extending protections to hemp businesses or adding language promoting social equity policies.
Many expected this piece of legislation to receive a floor vote before the August recess, but that did not come to fruition because the Dems did not want to see Trump getting another win.
In any case, the development comes as the Senate Banking Committee is also preparing to hold a vote on marijuana banking legislation, with Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) stating that his panel is “working to try to get a bill ready.” He didn’t offer a timeline, however, other than saying he hoped to advance the legislation by the end of the year.
It’s not clear if Crapo’s move essentially forced the hand of House leadership and played a role their decision to advance the bill so that Democrats won’t be seen as lagging behind the GOP-controlled Senate on cannabis reform, an issue the party has sought to take political ownership of.
Banking access is largely seen as one of the most achievable pieces of cannabis legislation that stands to pass this Congress. Advocates and reform-minded lawmakers view it as one of the first steps on the path toward ending federal marijuana prohibition.
That said, there has been some disagreement within advocacy circles about whether it’s prudent to pass legislation viewed as primarily favorable to the industry before advancing comprehensive legislation that de-schedules cannabis and takes steps to repair the harms of prohibition enforcement.