Democrats are trying to attach marijuana reform, among other things unrelated to the nation’s defense, to the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), delaying the bill’s vote.
The House Rules Committee was scheduled to take up the NDAA on Monday. However, chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA) announced the “package is not ready yet,” and noted the “committee remains ready to take it up as soon as the text is finalized.”
The NDAA has been must-pass legislation for the past 62 years, as it authorizes Pentagon activities and spending.
While a huge point of contention in the NDAA among Republicans and Democrats is the military’s vaccine mandate, there is an emerging debate in the halls of Congress regarding marijuana reform’s inclusion into the defense spending bill.
Democrat Senate Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is pushing to include the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act in the NDAA. The SAFE Banking Act would make it easier for state-licensed marijuana business owners to access financing from national banks. The bill would also create grants for state expungement of past marijuana convictions.
However, a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) memo issued this year claimed the SAFE Banking Act could “significantly complicate law enforcement investigations and prosecutions” of money laundering stemming from state-legal cannabis businesses.
On Monday, Republican Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) met with the DOJ to discuss concerns about the SAFE Banking Act, Politico reported.
Although the SAFE Banking Act has little to do with the nation’s defense, Democrats are scrambling to include as much unrelated legislation into the NDAA in the last remaining weeks of the year before the GOP takes majority control of the House at the start of the next Congress on January 3.