August 10, 2018
Could a version of the FIRST STEP Act with sentencing reforms pass the Senate in a matter of weeks?
The question in the title of this post is prompted by this encouraging Thursday Washington Examiner piece headlined "Jared Kushner helps Trump pave rare bipartisan path to big win." Here are excerpts with a few lines emphasized:
Thursday’s roundtable at President Trump’s summer White House in New Jersey to address prison and sentencing reform with governor’s is the latest bid by top aide Jared Kushner to give his father-in-law a rare bipartisan victory on a once controversial issue.
In getting Trump to carve out part of his working vacation at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., Kushner and other officials are hoping to demonstrate how important the issues are to the president as he works to get a Senate vote in the next month.
Trump’s meeting this afternoon with governors, state attorneys general, and top aides is the latest in which he will endorse prison reform and he is also expected to open the door to sentencing reform, a sign to key senators that he is ready for a deal.
Just last week he met with Trump met with Republican Sens. Mike Lee, Lindsey Graham, Tim Scott and Chuck Grassley who are working legislation on sentencing and prison reform.
“We are trying to get a vote in the next two weeks,” said an administration official of the broad prison reform bill known as the First Step Act that passed the House overwhelmingly.
As he has on Middle East peace and other projects his father-in-law has given him, Kushner has worked overtime -- and always behind the scenes -- to build an unusual coalition in support of the reforms....
“There can’t be any doubt that by having this as the only major event on the president’s schedule that he is laser focused on this,” said one associate, who added, “We think that with this momentum and with the coalition behind it, that this can actually happen.”
Importantly, as I understand matters, the Senate would be voting on not just the prison reforms in the House version of the FIRST STEP Act, but also some sentencing reforms. Those reform are limited, but still quite significant, and they are outlined in this recent piece by Mark Holden. And if this is brought up for a vote in the Senate, I do not think there is any real likelihood it would not pass. Indeed, the question would be probably whether it might get even more than 80 votes.
If this really gets completely done in the coming weeks, I do think it will be right to give Prez Trump and his Administration a considerable amount of credit. But that credit comes only if and when a bill is signed and the law is changed. Remarkably, I am starting to get optimistic that this could happen pretty soon.
August 10, 2018 at 05:24 PM | Permalink
It surely does sound good, see what the outcome is and when.
Posted by: MidWestGuy | Aug 10, 2018 6:26:03 PM
I am not optimistic that this will even be voted on in the Senate because Trump only had republican senators to his summit. It will take a bipartisan vote to pass in Senate and only having his party to the summit is a bad sign.
This is not the bill that was passed by the House and I have no idea how it will be received by conservatives.
Posted by: John Neff | Aug 10, 2018 7:56:47 PM