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McConnell's hemp amendment gets green light from Appropriations

 

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved an amendment, co-sponsored by Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump flubs speech location at criminal justice conference Sunday shows preview: Trade talks, Cohen sentencing memo take center stage Trump tells McConnell to let Senate vote on criminal justice reform MORE (R-Ky.), aimed at fostering research into industrial hemp, which is made from the marijuana plant.

The amendment, offered by Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyDem senator accuses Trump of aiding 'cover up' over Khashoggi Criminal justice reform splits 2020 Democrats White House jumps into fight over energy subsidies MORE (D-Ore.), was approved on a bipartisan 22-8 vote.

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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 Emiel FeinsteinSenators want assurances from attorney general pick on fate of Mueller probe Mattis: Investigation into killing of Khashoggi is ongoing Senators introduce resolution saying Saudi crown prince 'complicit' in Khashoggi slaying MORE (D-Calif.).

Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSchumer gets ready to go on the offensive Criminal justice reform splits 2020 Democrats Farmers sticking with Trump, says GOP senator 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 Ann MikulskiAthletic directors honor best former student-athletes on Capitol Hill Dems ponder gender politics of 2020 nominee Robert Mueller's forgotten surveillance crime spree 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.