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 CrapoThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators The 17 Republicans who voted to advance the Senate infrastructure bill 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 TrumpMeghan McCain: Democrats 'should give a little credit' to Trump for COVID-19 vaccine Trump testing czar warns lockdowns may be on table if people don't get vaccinated Overnight Health Care: CDC details Massachusetts outbreak that sparked mask update | White House says national vaccine mandate 'not under consideration at this time' 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 MarkeyHuman rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action Nearly 140 Democrats urge EPA to 'promptly' allow California to set its own vehicle pollution standards Senate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines MORE (D-Mass.) and Cory BookerCory BookerHuman rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action Senate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines Juan Williams: Biden's child tax credit is a game-changer 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 McMahonTomorrow's special election in Texas is the Democrats' best House hope in 2021 April's dumbest and most dangerous coronavirus declarations Trump convenes sports commissioners in hopes of filling stadiums 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 ManafortLobbyist Tony Podesta returns to work for Huawei Former bank CEO convicted of bribery in scheme to land Trump admin job Trial begins for Chicago banker who exchanged loans with Manafort for Trump job 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.