In one of his final stints on Capitol Hill, Rep. Ed Perlmutter isn’t ready to call it quits on banking reform for the cannabis industry.
The Colorado Democrat, who assumed office in 2007, announced earlier this month that he won’t seek reelection come November, attracting the attention of those throughout the cannabis industry, many of whom have backed his fight to provide clarity and safe harbor to financial institutions servicing cannabis clients.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., speaks on his SAFE Banking Act in September 2021, when the House added it as an amendment to the defense spending package.
Perlmutter, 68, is the chief author of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which has passed the U.S. House five times since 2019, including twice as a standalone bill, and most recently as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act in September 2021, before it was later removed from the military spending package during negotiations between the House and Senate.
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All five times SAFE Banking passed the House, it stalled before making headway in the Senate. But behind broad bipartisan support in his chamber, including a 321-101 roll call vote in April, Perlmutter isn’t giving up on its complete passage.
In his most recent move, Perlmutter is now fixing to attach SAFE Banking as an amendment to the America COMPETES (Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology) Act of 2022, he announced Jan. 28.
Set to be taken up by U.S. House members this week, the COMPETES Act is a 2,900-page bill that, in part, focuses on increasing competitiveness with China and supporting the U.S. chip industry, including $52 billion to subsidize research for semiconductor manufacturing and research, Reuters recently reported.
“The SAFE Banking Act is the best opportunity to enact some type of federal cannabis reform this year and will serve as the first of many steps to help ensure cannabis businesses are treated the same as any other legal, legitimate business,” Perlmutter said in a release.
He added, “I will continue to pursue every possible avenue to get SAFE Banking over the finish line and signed into law.”
Perlmutter’s main obstacles in the upper chamber have been majority leadership. Former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., did not act on calendaring the 2019 standalone version of SAFE Banking for debate, while current Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has shown a lack of interest in incremental reform efforts before taking up a broader bill, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, which he sponsors with fellow Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden, Ore., and Cory Booker, N.J.
But as those who operate all-cash businesses in the cannabis space continue to be targets of armed robberies and other violent crimes, Perlmutter said he will continue his pursuit of SAFE Banking until his term expires on Jan. 3, 2023.
“Cannabis-related businesses—big and small—and their employees are in desperate need of access to the banking system and access to capital in order to operate in an efficient, safe manner and compete in the growing global cannabis marketplace,” he said.
The House Rules Committee is scheduled to start considering the America COMPETES Act on Feb. 1, including filed amendments to the bill, which would have to be approved by that committee before getting taken up on the House floor.