Grassley, Durbin Push to Keep Criminal-Justice Reform Out of SCOTUS Fray

The key senators plan to keep pressing ahead on bipartisan legislation despite the partisan Supreme Court fight.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, center, flanked by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., left, and Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin of Ill., speaks about criminal justice reform, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. A long-awaited bipartisan proposal to cut mandatory prison sentences for nonviolent offenders and promote more early release from federal prisons is scheduled to be disclosed Thursday by an influential group of senators who hope to build on backing from conservatives, progressives and the White House.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
Feb. 25, 2016, 1:58 p.m.

A bi­par­tis­an pair of seni­or sen­at­ors is try­ing to keep crim­in­al-justice-re­form le­gis­la­tion from fall­ing vic­tim to the bit­ter dis­pute over the Su­preme Court.

Sen­ate Minor­ity Whip Dick Durbin said he met with Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Charles Grass­ley on Thursday to dis­cuss the bill, which is already fa­cing big hurdles due to op­pos­i­tion from some Re­pub­lic­ans.

“I said to Chuck today, and we shook hands on it, these are two sep­ar­ate is­sues, and we are go­ing to keep them sep­ar­ate. We have an im­port­ant job to do on both,” Durbin told Na­tion­al Journ­al.

Grass­ley and Durbin are lead au­thors of the bi­par­tis­an Sen­ten­cing Re­form and Cor­rec­tions Act. But they—and the full Sen­ate—are at log­ger­heads over the GOP’s pree­mpt­ive re­fus­al to even have the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee con­sider Pres­id­ent Obama’s up­com­ing nom­in­ee to re­place the late Ant­on­in Scalia.

The bill cleared the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee in the fall, but it has stalled as some con­ser­vat­ive GOP law­makers, in­clud­ing Tom Cot­ton and Jeff Ses­sions, are at­tack­ing the le­gis­la­tion, ar­guing that it would en­danger pub­lic safety.

Spon­sors of the bill are work­ing in sev­er­al changes to the meas­ure aimed at win­ning more back­ing among Re­pub­lic­ans. Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell has not yet said wheth­er the bill will come be­fore the full Sen­ate.

“Both of us want to see this bill move for­ward. We have some hurdles, but we are not giv­ing up,” Durbin said. An aide to Grass­ley con­firmed the meet­ing, which happened off the Sen­ate floor, and that work on the bill is con­tinu­ing.

The bill is aimed at eas­ing fed­er­al man­dat­ory-min­im­um sen­tences for cer­tain non­vi­ol­ent drug- and fire­arms-pos­ses­sion of­fenses. It also would give fed­er­al pris­on­ers in­cent­ives to take part in pro­grams that are de­signed to cut re­cidiv­ism risks.

Crim­in­al-justice re­form is among the few areas of po­ten­tial deal-mak­ing between Pres­id­ent Obama and the GOP-led Con­gress this year. It’s a pri­or­ity for Obama, and House Speak­er Paul Ry­an hopes to move for­ward as well.

What We're Following See More »
CONCERNED ABOUT A PUBLIC SPECTACLE
Mueller Agrees to Testify, but Only in Private
2 days ago
THE LATEST
FEDERAL JUDGE WON'T BLOCK SUBPOENA OF BANK RECORDS
Trump Loses in Court Again
4 days ago
THE LATEST
SAYS HE CAN'T DO IT WHILE INVESTIGATIONS CONTINUE
Trump Pulls the Plug on Infrastructure
4 days ago
THE LATEST
ADMINISTRATION IS 0-FOR-1 ON STONEWALLING THIS WEEK
Parties Go to Court Today Over Trump Banking Records
4 days ago
THE LATEST
ARRIVAL UNDER "EXTREME SECRECY"
Tillerson Talking to House Foreign Affairs
5 days ago
THE LATEST

"Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was spotted entering a congressional office building on Tuesday morning for what a committee aide told The Daily Beast was a meeting with the leaders of the House Foreign Affairs committee and relevant staff about his time working in the Trump administration. ... Tillerson’s arrival at the Capitol was handled with extreme secrecy. No media advisories or press releases were sent out announcing his appearance. And he took a little noticed route into the building in order to avoid being seen by members of the media."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login