On The Money: Senate chairman opposes cannabis banking bill | Panel advances Trump pick for Small Business Administration | Judge tosses NY state fraud charges against Manafort

On The Money: Senate chairman opposes cannabis banking bill | Panel advances Trump pick for Small Business Administration | Judge tosses NY state fraud charges against Manafort
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THE BIG DEAL--Senate chairman announces opposition to cannabis banking bill: The chairman of a key Senate committee said Wednesday he is uncomfortable advancing a bill to protect financial sector access for cannabis companies without stricter health and illicit financing safeguards.

In a Wednesday statement, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoMnuchin to put 5B in COVID-19 relief funds beyond successor's reach Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed Shelton's Fed nomination on knife's edge amid coronavirus-fueled absences MORE (R-Idaho) said he opposes a House-passed bipartisan bill to give banks and credit unions legal cover to serve cannabis firms, but is open to amending the measure to satisfy his concerns.

Crapo said he had "significant concerns" that the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act does not address the potency of cannabis, prevent the marketing of the drug to children, lacks research on its health effects, and questioned if it allows cartels and other criminal groups to profit. I explain why Crapo isn't on board here.

Why it matters: Crapo's opposition to the measure poses a significant, if not entirely shocking hurdle to the coalition of financial sector lobbyists, criminal justice advocates and public safety groups supporting the SAFE Banking Act. 

  • The House passed the bill in October by a vote of 321-103 with support from nearly all Democrats and substantial group of 91 Republicans. 
  • The measure would protect banks and credit unions from facing federal charges for serving cannabis dispensaries, growers and firms that handle the drug as long as they comply with state laws.
  • Crapo's reluctance to move any bill involving cannabis is widely shared among Senate Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnelll (R-Ky.)



The background: Though cannabis is illegal under federal law, 33 states have legalized medical or recreational use of the drug. Another 14 allow residents to use nonintoxicating cannabidiol (CBD) products, leaving just three states without any legally approved cannabis use.

  • The rapid state-level legalization of cannabis has created a multibillion-dollar industry in the U.S., but banks and credit unions have been reluctant to risk federal prosecution for serving state-legal businesses. 
  • That has forced hundreds of cannabis firms to operate only with cash, making them prime targets for armed robbery and other crimes.



  • The House votes on legislation to implement Trump's U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), and a temporary repeal of the cap on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction.



Senate panel advances Trump's nominee to lead Small Business Administration: The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee on Wednesday voted to advance President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE's nominee to lead the Small Business Administration (SBA).

The panel voted to approve Jovita Carranza's nomination in a bipartisan vote of 17-2. The only no votes were Sens. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyUS national security policy in the 117th Congress and a new administration OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden eyes new leadership at troubled public lands agency | House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally | Trump administration pushes for rollback of Arctic offshore drilling regulations House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally MORE (D-Mass.) and Cory BookerCory BookerSenate Democrats reelect Schumer as leader by acclamation  Hill associations push for more diversity in lawmakers' staffs Sanders celebrates Biden-Harris victory: 'Thank God democracy won out' MORE (D-N.J.). Booker is a 2020 presidential contender.

Carranza is currently the treasurer of the United States, a position in the Treasury Department that involves overseeing the department's Office of Consumer Policy and the U.S. Mint. She had served as deputy administrator of the SBA during former President George W. Bush's administration.

Trump's first SBA administrator, Linda McMahonLinda Marie McMahonApril's dumbest and most dangerous coronavirus declarations Trump convenes sports commissioners in hopes of filling stadiums Senate confirms Trump pick for small business chief MORE, stepped down earlier this year to take a job with a political group supporting the president's reelection campaign. The SBA is currently led by acting Administrator Chris Pilkerton.


Judge throws out NY state fraud charges against Manafort: A judge in New York threw out mortgage fraud charges against Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortFlynn spurs questions of who Trump might pardon next On The Money: Initial jobless claims rise for 2nd week | Dow dips below 30K | Mnuchin draws fire for COVID-19 relief move | Manhattan DA appeals dismissal of Manafort charges Manhattan DA appeals dismissal of Manafort charges to NY high court MORE on Wednesday, ruling that the case constituted double jeopardy for the convicted former Trump campaign official.

Judge Maxwell Wiley ruled that the charges from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance overlapped with various bank fraud charges that Manafort faced in federal court last year. Manafort was convicted on some of those charges and sentenced to more than seven years in prison.

Manafort was reportedly absent from a brief hearing on Wednesday, and has been hospitalized in recent days with heart problems.