Merkley’s SAFER Banking Act Clears Key Hurdle; Heads to Senate Floor

Senator Reiterates Commitment to Supporting Restorative Justice Provisions on the Floor

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley’s bipartisan Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act – legislation to ensure that legal cannabis businesses have access to critical banking and financial services – cleared a key hurdle by passing the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

The SAFER Banking Act now heads to the floor for consideration from the whole Senate, for the first time.

“Forcing legal businesses to operate in all-cash is dangerous for our communities; it’s an open invitation to robberies, muggings, money laundering, and organized crime—and the only people benefiting from the current system are criminals,” said Merkley. “Passing the SAFER Banking Act through committee is an historic moment in this body. I am committed to building bipartisan momentum to finally get a bill signed into law that ends the cannabis cash economy and improves public safety across the nation.”

“This bill is example of significant bipartisan cooperation. I much appreciate the contribution of my Republican colleagues led by Senator Daines, including assistance from Senator Lummis and Senator Cramer. But the bill would not have made it through the Committee without the extensive work of Majority Leader Schumer, Banking Chair Brown, and Senator Sinema.”

Merkley is the lead sponsor of the SAFER Banking Act, as well as its predecessor the SAFE Banking Act – which he has led since 2015. Last week, Merkley reiterated his commitment to supporting the addition of restorative justice provisions – such as the Harnessing Opportunity by Pursuing Expungement (HOPE) Act, which would support states with grants that want to expunge cannabis records; and the Gun Rights and Marijuana (GRAM) Act, which would allow state-legal cannabis users to purchase and possess firearms – when the bill is considered before the full Senate. In addition, the SAFER Banking Act includes extended safe harbor protections for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDI) to ensure they can also serve cannabis businesses.