At the time this post was published, the Senate’s Parliamentarian had not yet ruled on the legality of the STATES Act. Schumer’s bill was expected to pass through the Senate, but instead, it was derailed by a procedural challenge.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has been working on how to legalize marijuana for months now, and it looks like he just might have found a loophole to get it done. His plan was to make it legal for states to legalize marijuana, and then he would force the federal government to follow suit under the Controlled Substances Act. He says that under this amendment, the federal government would have to legalize marijuana in all 50 states, which would be a huge win for the pro-cannabis movement.
The Senate parliamentarian may have saved Senator Chuck Schumer from a major embarrassment today. Schumer can’t legally support the legalization of marijuana in New York, because he is up for re-election next year. Schumer had been hoping to legalize medical marijuana in the state, but the Senate parliamentarian said he couldn’t do that without the support of legalization in New York.Senate Democrats simply don’t have enough of a majority to take full advantage of the budget talks this year. In recent months, there has been talk that Senate President Chuck Schumer would use tricks to circumvent the 60-vote majority needed to pass a comprehensive marijuana reform bill. The old rule known as the parliamentary filibuster is currently preventing Sumer from getting the votes needed to make legal weed a reality. But if he can wrap it up in a budget proposal, there’s a chance it could pass with a simple majority. If the term budget talk sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the only way Democrats have accomplished anything in recent months. Budget mediation allows the Senate to pass bills with a simple majority (51 votes), so the bill can pass the Senate without Republican support. So they approved President Biden’s $1.9 trillion bailout bill, even as Republicans made a fuss about how it would cripple America. Photo by Harold Mendoza via Unsplash The problem with this tactic, however, is that the dominant party can usually only use it once per tax year. But Schumer, relying on Section 304 of the 1974 Congressional Budget Act, believes that Democrats face more budget votes. And if so, he may try to include the long-awaited marijuana reform bill in another resolution. Schumer confirmed at a recent press conference that this was a possibility. He told reporters he would confirm it in a few weeks. How to proceed appears to depend on the decision of Senate Representative Elizabeth McDonough. The Democrats got good news fast. In April, the Senate parliamentarian noted that the party may have more options for budget reconciliation. The parliamentarian indicated that the revised budget resolution could include instructions on how to align budgets. This validates the leader’s interpretation of the budget bill and gives Democrats additional tools to improve Americans’ lives if the Republican filibuster persists, Schumer’s spokesman said, according to The Hill. However, it seems that Schumer overestimated the power that this reconciliation would give. A recent report from Punchbowl News suggests that lawmakers’ decision places strong restrictions on what Democrats can do with their newly authorized option. The majority party – in this case the Democrats – cannot simply use reconciliation to bypass the normal legislative process, and there must be reasons other than political expediency for invoking the majority threshold, such as the economic recession, writes the news outlet about McDonough’s decision. In other words, he said the Democratic Party cannot use this as a shortcut. While Democrats thought they would have two more automatic votes on the budget this year, the McDonough decision leaves only one. Schumer has only one chance to take on the crucial points of Biden’s platform. And attempts to convince the president that marijuana legalization should be part of the deal will likely fail. Mr. Biden focused on his jobs plan, his plan for families and the expansion of Medicare. This effort was originally going to be spread over two budget resolutions, but now Schumer has to find a way to do it all in one resolution. Schumer will have a hard time convincing the Biden administration to introduce weed. Finally, Biden isn’t even sure that full legalization is the right thing to do. Photo: Anton Petrus/Getty Images Even attempts to make changes to another budget resolution must go through a full committee and amendment process. That’s where the Republicans can step in and disrupt the vote. Senate Democrats simply don’t have enough of a majority to take full advantage of the budget talks this year. Any misstep at this point could derail all of Biden’s plans. So it looks like Schumer will have to play tightrope walker for the sake of the Democratic party. This could mean that his high-profile plans to promote comprehensive cannabis reform will be shelved. It doesn’t look like Senate lawmakers will allow Democrats to throw any issue over their shoulder and bring it to the finish line in the budget reconciliation process. Marijuana legalization would probably have to go the usual legislative route (and be subject to a GOP filibuster). Unfortunately, attempting to legalize weed in this way across the country will only mean certain death.
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