McConnell's hemp amendment gets green light from Appropriations

 

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved an amendment, co-sponsored by Sen. Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellStudy: Trump tops recent GOP presidents in signing bills in first 100 days Senate passes stopgap funding bill to avert shutdown Let’s never talk about a government shutdown — ever again MORE (R-Ky.), aimed at fostering research into industrial hemp, which is made from the marijuana plant.

The amendment, offered by Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleySanders calls for renewed focus on fighting climate change Overnight Energy: Trump set to sign offshore drilling order Sanders: Trump couldn't be 'more wrong' on climate MORE (D-Ore.), was approved on a bipartisan 22-8 vote.

ADVERTISEMENT
It is aimed at blocking the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) from interfering with research that was set up in the five-year farm bill approved in January.

Committee ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) voted against the provision, saying blocking the DEA from raids on a controlled substance set a bad precedent. He was joined by liberal Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinDemocrats exploring lawsuit against Trump Overnight Finance: Dems explore lawsuit against Trump | Full-court press for Trump tax plan | Clock ticks down to spending deadline Comey to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee MORE (D-Calif.).

Sen. Jon TesterJon TesterDem senator to appear with Romney: report Battle begins over Wall Street rules Dems hunt for a win in Montana special election MORE (D-Mont.) was among those who voted for the hemp language.

“This isn’t the stuff you smoke. It would take 80 pounds to get a buzz,” Tester said.

Chairwoman Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiBipartisan friendship is a civil solution to political dysfunction Dems press for paycheck fairness bill on Equal Pay Day After 30 years celebrating women’s history, have we made enough progress? MORE (D-Md.) thanked him for his “expertise” before voting for the amendment.

The language is now part of a $51.2 billion bill funding the departments of Commerce and Justice, as well as the science and space agencies for fiscal 2015. That bill passed out of committee on a unanimous 30-0 vote.

The Commerce, Justice and Science bill is heading for full floor consideration as part of a package of spending bills, possibly as early as the week of June 16.

Next week, the committee is slated to approve a legislative branch bill and a Labor, and Health and Human Services bill funding ObamaCare. It already has approved Agriculture and Veterans Affairs bills.

The House on May 30 passed its own version of the bill on a bipartisan 321-87 vote. That bill contains some controversial gun riders that the Senate is likely to oppose.

It also contains the same hemp language that was approved in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.