On Tuesday evening (12/06/22), the compromise text of the NDAA was released, which is available here.It did not include the SAFE Banking Act, despite a push from a bipartisan group of lawmakers to have the bill included. It was reported that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and others had expressed opposition to the legislation, and ultimately many of the more contentious provisions without broad bipartisan support were excluded from the NDAA. Specifically, support for the provisions in the NDAA began to waver after Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and other lawmakers met with officials from the Justice Department on Monday to discuss their concerns about enforcement of the bill. After this meeting, Leader McConnell criticized Democrats on the Senate floor for adding a “grab bag” of extraneous measures to the NDAA, which led to Republican co-sponsors Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) to take the position that the NDAA is not the right package for the bill to ride on.

Proponents of the bill are continuing to push for the SAFE Banking Act to be included in a year-end omnibus appropriations package, though it remains unclear if they will be successful given Leader McConnell’s opposition to “making our financial system more sympathetic to illegal drugs.” We would also note that Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), who is one of the Republican co-sponsors of the legislation, has expressed opposition to including the bill in a year-end package and said, “When you get down to the last few weeks, like this, if those bills haven’t had the strength and the legs on their own to get time on the floor, the idea of attaching all of that to an omnibus that nobody gets to see before they vote on is truly offensive to me.”

The status of a year-end package and what provisions will be included in it continues to remain in flux as the package is still being negotiated.

-K&L Gates