Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are pushing to kill a major marijuana legalization measure that they say is a distraction from tax reform.
The bill, which has languished in the Senate for weeks, is a key part of the party’s efforts to repeal and replace former President Donald Trump’s tax overhaul, which they believe will be a boon for businesses.
The Senate bill is being considered as part of its tax overhaul rewrite, and House Democrats are pressing the GOP on a bill that would give states the right to legalize marijuana, but it’s a big deal for Democrats because it’s similar to a proposal that was defeated in the 2016 election.
The proposal is an effort to shore up GOP support for a Senate plan that would allow states to legalize pot.
The Senate bill was a big victory for marijuana advocates in the Republican-controlled chamber.
Democrats are looking to take advantage of the GOP’s recent flip on marijuana, as they try to get it on their ballot in 2020.
“The idea that Republicans want this bill in the final bill is really problematic,” Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., told The Hill on Thursday.
“This is just another way to put money in the pockets of wealthy and powerful special interests and special interests that don’t care about us.”
The bill would repeal the federal ban on marijuana and would give marijuana states the option of legalizing it.
The proposal has drawn strong opposition from conservative and tea party Republicans, who say it would be an unnecessary tax hike and that the marijuana issue has been politicized.
Democrats have also called it an overreach that would hurt their ability to pass a tax bill, and some Republicans have argued that the proposal could be the first step toward a legalization measure.
“The Trump administration’s war on marijuana is not just about money,” Rep.-elect Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said in a statement on Thursday, adding that the bill would also allow states more flexibility in drug policy.
But Republicans are trying to take the bill off the table, saying they have to be focused on tax reform and that marijuana is a big part of that.
Smith, the chairman of the House Committee on Energy and the Commerce, said on Thursday that the legislation is being “overlooked” and that he was “very concerned” about its impact on the country’s tax revenues.
“It’s a distraction,” he said.
“It’s not going to get us any closer to a tax reform plan, and it’s not a plan that’s going to make America a great place to do business.”
Democrats, meanwhile, have blasted the proposal as a “political football” and a ploy to boost their own chances in the 2018 midterm elections.
“President Trump’s budget, his opioid crisis, his lack of respect for law enforcement, his racist and anti-Muslim rhetoric have all fueled Republicans’ war on drugs,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D/WA, in a news release.
“If President Trump can spend a day in jail for doing the right thing, then why can’t he spend one day in Congress for doing what he wants to do?”
Read more at The Hill.