On The Money — Deadline to pass bipartisan marijuana bill looming

Congress is losing time to get key marijuana legislation across the finish line in the lame-duck session.

We’ll also look at recent threats in the Senate to subpoena FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried for a hearing on the firm’s collapse, the House’s recent passage of a mammoth annual defense funding bill, and more.

🎥 But first, see why “Rush Hour” fans may have reason to celebrate.

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Window closing for bipartisan marijuana bill

Lawmakers are facing a rapidly closing window to get key marijuana legislation across the finish line in the lame-duck session.

Despite fetching broad bipartisan support in the House and Senate, opposition from GOP leadership and a tightening timeline is chipping away at the bill’s chances of passage.

  • Top cosponsors for the bill are hopeful the measure will be attached to a potential government funding omnibus that members on both sides want to see pass before year’s end. 

  • The bill has Republican backers even outside those co-sponsoring the measure, but there is still pushback within the caucus, party members say. Among the loudest has been Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who this week knocked the bill as a measure that aims to make “our financial system more sympathetic to illegal drugs.” 

  • The banking industry is also lobbying for the bill. The Independent Community Bankers of America commissioned a Morning Consult poll showing that nearly two-thirds of voters support allowing cannabis businesses to access banking services in weed-legal states.

The background: The measure, called the SAFE Banking Act, would undo federal restrictions that discourage banks and other financial institutions from offering services to legally operating cannabis businesses.

Supporters say the bill is desperately needed to crack down on persistent robberies of cannabis businesses, which are forced to carry huge amounts of cash, as well as make it easier for those companies to secure loans at reasonable rates.

Aris and Karl have more here.


Senate panel threatens to subpoena Bankman-Fried for FTX hearing testimony

The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Banking Committee have threatened to subpoena FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried if he doesn’t agree to testify during a hearing on the cryptocurrency firm’s collapse scheduled for next week.

In a recent letter, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) warned Bankman-Fried that he may be forced to testify before the panel if he does not cooperate with a request to appear at a Dec. 14 hearing.

  • Bankman-Fried is the founder and former CEO of FTX, which was one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges and trading platforms until its collapse last month. He also founded and was the principal owner of Alameda Research, an investment firm that went bankrupt along with FTX and most of its affiliates. 

  • As FTX spiraled into bankruptcy last month, customers attempted to withdraw billions of dollars in deposits stored on the platform over a three-day span. While the firm was once valued as high as $32 billion, FTX lacked enough cash to compensate its customers and filed for bankruptcy soon after. 

  • Bankman-Fried has insisted he did not mean to harm his customers and is attempting to make them whole, but has also admitted to several serious missteps. He said FTX leaders lacked basic information about how much debt the company owed its customers and various creditors, along with how much money the company actually had stored away.

Sylvan digs into this here.


First currency featuring female Treasury secretary’s signature released

The first U.S. currency featuring the signature of a female Treasury secretary has been released.

The Treasury Department said in a tweet on Thursday that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has started producing dollars with the signatures of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Treasurer Lynn Malerba.

  • Yellen, previously the first female chair of the Federal Reserve, was confirmed as secretary in the first few days of President Biden’s administration, becoming the first woman to lead the Treasury Department, which had been one of the last Cabinet-level positions never held by a woman. 

  • Malerba has served as treasurer since September, part of an unbroken line of women who have held the position dating back to the Truman administration. She is the first Native American to hold the role.

The Hill’s Jared Gans has the info here.


House passes annual defense funding bill

The House on Thursday passed the annual defense authorization bill, sending the mammoth, $847 billion measure to the Senate for consideration ahead of the year-end deadline.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed in a bipartisan 350-80 vote. It was approved under suspension of the rules, an expedited process to pass legislation in the House that requires a two-thirds majority.

  • The NDAA, legislation seen as a must-pass for Congress annually, includes an $817 billion top line for the Defense Department and about $30 billion to fund nuclear activities in the Department of Energy. 

  • The bill lays out the blueprint for how the billions of dollars will be allocated at the Pentagon, including a 4.6 percent pay raise for both service members and the agency’s civilian workforce, new weapons programs and equipment upgrades, and new programs and personnel policies.

The Hill’s Ellen Mitchell and Mychael Schnell have the deets here.

Good to Know

The Department of Energy is spending big to keep America’s old nuclear reactors online while laying the foundations of the nuclear energy industry of the future.

The investment into America’s long-declining nuclear industry — which includes tens of millions of funding announced this week — builds on a far-broader package of federal subsidies invested in the nuclear sector, which remains America’s leading single source of zero-carbon electricity.

Here are five nuclear goals that the Energy Department is pouring money into.

See what else we have our eye on:

  • Rep. Maxwell Alejandro Frost, the congressman-elect who will become the first member of Generation Z to join Congress next month, said on Thursday that he was denied an apartment in Washington, D.C., because of his “really bad” credit. 

  • House lawmakers on Thursday passed measures that would ban buying and selling shark fins in the United States and help the country combat illegal fishing as part of the annual defense spending bill. 

  • Airport workers are planning rallies and strikes over working conditions. And a pair of senators have introduced a new bill targeting federal airline evacuation standards.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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