US senator again promises hearing on marijuana SAFE Banking is imminent

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Despite the growing threat of a government shutdown that could freeze nearly all business in Washington DC, a top Senate Democrat believes marijuana banking reform could have a required hearing “in the next six weeks.”

That’s the latest prediction on SAFE Banking from U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, the Ohio Democrat who chairs the Senate banking committee.

Brown told Punchbowl News on Monday that marijuana banking reform is near the top of his to-do list as Congress returns from its August recess.

“We want to get RECOUP. We want to get SAFE Banking,” Brown told the online news site.

“We already have, in the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act), the FEND Off Fentanyl Act. All three of those are my priorities.

“We want to do all that in the next six weeks.”

SAFE Banking, which would forbid federal regulators from punishing financial institutions that provide banking services to state-licensed marijuana businesses, has repeatedly passed the House of Representatives but then stalled in the Senate.

There was progress in May, when Brown’s committee held an informational hearing on the bill.

But the measure didn’t go to the “markup” session in which lawmakers pore over a bill and make changes, which has been described as a necessary step before a full floor vote.

However, a cycle of repeated past promises and subsequent blown deadlines show the proven unreliability of such predictions.

In June, Brown promised a markup hearing on SAFE Banking “in the next two or three weeks.”

That hearing never materialized, however, and Congress adjourned for its August recess having not resolved SAFE Banking or an ongoing squabble over government spending.

If the budget dispute isn’t resolved by Sept. 30 and Congress does not pass a temporary spending bill, the government could enter a “government shutdown” where federal employees and contractors are not paid.

Most Congressional insiders and observers agree that if there’s no spending deal in place and the government does shut down, there will be little time and attention for SAFE Banking.