INCH BY INCH: CONGRESS MOVES A LITTLE CLOSER TO DESPERATELY NEEDED BANKING REFORM
According to POLITICO, Senate Banking Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Id) plans to hold a vote by the end of this year on legislation that would enable banks to serve cannabis-related businesses. Such a vote would be another critical milestone in the fight for banking reform.
Cannabis banking reform has proceeded slowly and unevenly this year, but it has proceeded nonetheless. In February, the House Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions Subcommittee heard testimony regarding the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (the “SAFE Banking Act”). In March, the SAFE Banking Act passed out of the House Financial Services Committee on a bipartisan vote, but was met with a cool reception by Senator Crapo in the Senate. In July, Senator Crapo held a hearing on banking reform, but no other Republican committee members bothered to attend. Now Senator Crapo has not only agreed to hold a vote in the Banking Committee, but appears to be leaning in favor of reform. “The impact on the ability of small and large businesses to operate justifies our attention” he said.
The prospect of a vote is significant (especially given that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer apparently intends to put the SAFE Banking Act to a full House vote this month), but there is plenty of work to do. The exact piece of legislation the Senate Banking Committee will consider remains unclear. Senator Crapo indicated he might draft his own bill or he may work to amend other pending legislation such as the SAFE Banking Act or the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (the “STATES Act,” which we wrote about here). It is possible that the ultimate bill does not provide the full panoply of reforms sought by the industry. It is also possible that whatever bill comes out of the Senate Banking Committee or the House will be unpalatable to the full Senate. Nevertheless, we imagine any bill will provide some needed relief on the banking front, and remain cautiously optimistic about the prospects for passage of some type of common-sense reform in the near future.
Be sure to check back in on our blog regularly, as we will continue to monitor and write about the updates on the Senate Banking Committee.