October 10, 2018
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promises floor vote on FIRST STEP Act after midterm election if more than 60 Senators want to move forward
This short piece from The Hill, headlined "McConnell looking at criminal justice reform after midterms," provides an encouraging update on the prospects for federal criminal justice reform after next month's election:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he will move a criminal justice reform compromise after the Nov. 6 election if it has 60 votes.
The Senate GOP conference is divided on the package, which merged a House-passed prison-reform bill with bipartisan sentencing reform provisions crafted by the Senate....
“Criminal justice has been much discussed,” McConnell told reporters Wednesday. “What we’ll do after the election is take a whip count and if there are more than 60 senators who want to move forward on that bill, we’ll find time to address it.”
It’s a significant commitment from McConnell who has resisted bringing criminal justice reform legislation up for a vote because it divides his conference.
I blogged here a prior Hill article from a couple of months ago during Senate negotiations over the FIRST STEP Act which indicated that the White House back then had secured "30 to 32 ... 'yes' votes among Republican senators [and hoped] that the number of GOP supporters could eventually grow as many as 40 to 46." That article led me to speculate in August that a version of the FIRST STEP Act could perhaps garner up to 90 votes in the Senate, and I do not think this head-counting is likely to change all that dramatically after the election (though one never knows). Even if "only" 30 GOP Senators favor moving forward on the FIRST STEP Act, that will be more than enough for Senator McConnell to move ahead unless a whole lot of Democratic Senators decide they want to hold out for a more ambitious bill (which I think is unlikely).
In other words, I am starting to think that the prospect of the FIRST STEP Act becoming law before the end of the year might be pretty darn good. I am never inclined to count on Congress on get anything done, but on this front it does seem we are getting closer and closer.
Some of many prior recent related posts:
- House Judiciary Committee approves FIRST STEP Act by a vote of 25-5 after lots of discussion of amendments
- FIRST STEP Act passes US House of Representatives by vote of 360-59(!), but its fate in Senate remains uncertain
- Interesting new US Sentencing Commission analysis of possible impact of Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017
- Five prominent congressional Democrats write in opposition to federal statutory prison reform without broader sentencing reform
- Prez Trump pledges to sign prison reform that will be "best in the world"
- Large group of former prisoners urge Senate leaders to move forward with FIRST STEP Act
- Intriguing comments about the politics and persons around FIRST STEP Act and federal criminal justice reform efforts
- An interesting political pitch for the FIRST STEP Act
- Encouraging news from DC about prospects for prison reform with sentencing reform getting enacted in 2018
- FAMM provides detailed review of SRCA sentencing provisions most likely to be added to FIRST STEP Act
- Senator Cotton delivers faulty arguments to prop up faulty federal sentencing system
- Will Trump White House soon "deploy its assets ... to stump" for federal criminal justice reform? It may be critical.
- Could enhanced FIRST STEP Act get more than 90 votes in the Senate if even brought up for a vote?
October 10, 2018 at 06:28 PM | Permalink