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Sen. Kevin Cramer is looking to clarify parts of new, SAFER Banking Act
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Sen. Kevin Cramer is looking to clarify parts of new, SAFER Banking Act

Ep. 3 — Sen. Kevin Cramer supports the compromise but thinks banks will need some of the new language un-muddled (9-21-2023)
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Below find a rough transcript of Ask a Pol’s exclusive with Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), slightly edited for clarity.

Matt Laslo: “Safer banking. What do you make of this new section?” 

Kevin Cramer: “I think, this new section—it’s not so much a new section, it’s new language in the other section, the section 10 piece. I think it's fine.”

ML: “It’s got an ‘r’ on it—safer.”

KC: “Yeah. Actually, I like the name better too. I think it's a good ‘r.’ Yeah, I think it's a good ‘r.’”

ML: “Why is that?”

KC: “Well, it's clearer on what the regulators can’t do as it relates to discrimination, as it relates to ESG as a non dispositive, you know, reputational risk not dispositive in the decisions to lend. So I think it clears up—it's a little bit, it gets a little bit more wordy than it needs to be and I'd like to see that clarified a little bit. With that said, I think it adds value to the bill, and it certainly adds Republicans to it.”

ML: “Because some of that non clarified language could trip up industry?” 

KC: “That's exactly right. Industry, investment likes certainty, and anytime there's too much authority either given or implied to a bureaucracy, the more uncomfortable it is for people that invest in these businesses. So yeah, I'd like to get that—but that said, it's a better bill than it was.”

ML: “Why is that? Which side caved more? Which side gained?” 

KC: “Well, that's the beauty of good sausage. Is that it’s a transaction that involves people on both sides. Anybody who’s super offended by the marijuana side of it, probably, this isn't quite enough. But for people who are sort of close or in toward the middle or on the fence, I think it helps a lot.”

ML: “Yeah.” 

KC: “As for me, one of the things, you know this about me, you all know this about me. I'm not hiding the SAFE part of it by focusing on the other part of it. I’m for both, so I'm one of those. And I just assume to be transparent about that, because my state, North Dakota’s a state that legalized medicinal marijuana. So I do have that industry in my state, and I do have banks and credit unions who like to at least provide them a checking account. And I'd like them to have a checking account.” 

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ML: “Have you ever tried it?” 

KC: “I have not. I have not, no.” 

ML: “Come over to my crib. I’m growing four plants.” 

KC: “That’s fine.” 

ML: “Hey, I invited Elizabeth Warren over to come and taste it and try it for the first time in Rolling Stone.”  

KC: “How’d it go?” 

ML: “She didn’t say no.”

KC: “There you go.” 

ML: “She laughed awkwardly.” 

KC: “I bet she did. That’s her way. Anyway, all of that said, I'm good with both sides of it. Obviously, politically, it’s an easier sell the way it is. And I think it's, I actually think it's one of the better examples in recent times of a transactional deal. Where common ground respond and compromise still win the day.” 

The interview keeps going, but I have to run to the Capitol to cover Senate and House votes…

Since 2006, Matt Laslo’s covered drug policy—from its medicinal promises to the justice system—for Rolling Stone, Playboy, VICE/ VICE News Tonight, The Daily Beast, NPR, et. He runs The LCB—a regionally-focused, national wire service—and he lectures on new media at Johns Hopkins University (MA)

Ask a Pol is a new, people-powered press corps, asking your lawmakers your questions at your US Capitol. Follow us on the socials @Ask_a_Pol (or@askpols on Insta).

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