Rep. Katherine Clark’s amendment to prohibit veterans from being denied home loans because of their work in the cannabis industry will now go on to the Senate for approval.
The United States House of Representatives this month approved the latest National Defense Authorization Act which includes an amendment that protects veterans working in the cannabis industry. Specifically, the amendment prohibits the Department of Veterans Affairs from denying veterans their rights under the G.I. Bill to gain access to home loans.
The amendment, authored by U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), “prohibits the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from using the fact that a veteran’s income derives from a state-legal marijuana industry as a factor in determining whether to issue a VA home loan,” according to the summary by the Committee on House Rules.
We just passed the Def Budget that will
✔️Repeal ’01 & ‘02 AUMF
✔️Prohibit unauthorized military force in Iran
✔️Ensure vets in cannabis industry aren’t denied benefits
✔️Protect fed workers’ healthcare during shutdowns
✔️Prohibit Pres from contracting w/ fed gov
— Katherine Clark (@RepKClark) July 12, 2019
Access to home loans is included with veteran’s benefits under Chapter 37 of title 38, United States Code. VA home loans go through private lenders and are favorable because they provide a guarantee for the loans against loss.
While no current regulations are established on denying veterans their benefits based on employment in the cannabis industry, the VA has used cannabis industry affiliation as reason for denying home loan applications.
The VA’s off-the-books practice on home loans first came to Clark’s attention after one of her Massachusetts constituents sent in a letter asking for help after being denied a home loan based on work in the cannabis industry.
According to reports from Roll Call, the VA justified the denial of the home loan application because it considered working in cannabis to be insufficiently “stable and reliable.” In Massachusetts medical marijuana and recreational marijuana are legal.
Clark responded by drafting a letter to the secretary of VA, signed by 21 members of Congress, urging the department to clarify its policy on denying home loans to veterans employed in the marijuana industry. The full congressional letter can be found here.
“The VA needs to catch up with the times and recognize the growing role of the cannabis economy that employs over 200,000 Americans,” Clark said in a statement. “Our veterans shouldn’t be penalized or denied the benefits they have earned because they are working in a budding industry.”
The House Appropriations Committee made a similar request to the VA in May, asking for public clarification within 180 days on the practice home loan denial to veterans in the cannabis industry.
National Defense Authorization Act 2020
Clark’s amendment was approved in a bundle of amendments included in H.R. 2500, or the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020. The annual authorization act sets policies regarding the Department of Defense’s programs and how federal funds should be used. The act does not set limits on spending.
H.R. 2500 passed in the House on July 12 with 220 votes for and 197 votes against the act. The National Defense Authorization Act will now head to the Senate for consideration. If the bill is passed by the Senate, the act will go on to be signed by the president.
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