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More Republican support needed to pass marijuana banking, Schumer says

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he is still wrangling Republican support for a much-awaited marijuana banking reform bill.

Schumer has spent significant political capital trying to pass the SAFER Banking Act.

If passed into law, the SAFER Banking Act would bar federal regulators from penalizing financial institutions for offering basic services such as bank accounts, payroll services and credit-card transaction processing to state-legal marijuana businesses.

The bill did receive two Senate hearings this year, including passage during a much-awaited markup hearing in September.

But before Schumer calls the bill to a floor vote, he needs support from “10 or 11 Republican” senators, he told Yahoo News.

Sixty votes are needed to overcome Senate cloture rules and pass legislation in Congress’ upper chamber.

The SAFER Banking Act currently has four Republican co-sponsors.

And with 51 Democrats in the Senate compared with 49 Republicans, rare bipartisan agreement is the only way forward.

The lack of such agreement led to the defeat of a bill that would have allowed the Department of Veterans Affairs to study cannabis as a treatment for chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In April, that bill received only 57 votes.

Previous versions of the cannabis banking measure passed the House of Representatives seven times only to stall out in the Senate.

But that was before the bill was heard in Senate committees this year.

However, with Republicans in charge of the House, Senate passage does not guarantee Congress will approve the bill and send it to President Joe Biden for his signature.

Several Republican lawmakers have publicly expressed opposition to current bill language.

Specific grievances include Obama-era provisions they argue punish other non-marijuana industries, including firearms merchants.

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