Senate Banking Committee advances marijuana bill for the first time

Senate Banking Committee advances marijuana bill for the first time

The Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday took a historic step by advancing marijuana-related legislation to the floor for the first time.

Legal marijuana businesses would be allowed to use major financial and banking institutions under the new legislation, which is called the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation Banking Act. The committee reported out the bill by a 14-9 vote in support of Republicans Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Steve Daines of Montana and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota. Only one Democrat, Raphael Warnock of Georgia, voted against approving the bill for floor consideration.

Under current federal law, banks and creditors can be subject to federal prosecution if they provide services to businesses selling pot.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor Wednesday that he would soon bring the legislation to the floor for full Senate consideration. The possibility of amendments is then expected to be offered to members of the House of Representatives.

Even if SAFER Act passes in the Senate, its fate in the House is less certain.

Some Republicans in leadership positions, such as California's Speaker Kevin McCarthy, have voted for the bill in recent years. Now in control of the gavel, McCarthy hasn't said whether he would prioritize the effort in this Congress given the slim majority that has complicated his tenure.