Ryan pledges action on criminal justice reform
© Greg Nash

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHouse Dem moves to force vote on bill protecting Mueller Collins: 'Extremely disappointing' ObamaCare fix left out of spending deal House poised to vote on .3T spending bill MORE (R-Wis.) pledged Thursday that House Republicans will schedule time this year to vote on legislation reforming the criminal justice system.

Ryan said that bills reported out of the House Judiciary Committee — all of which he says he supports — are expected to get floor time this year. But he did not offer a specific time frame, saying that would be up to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who manages the schedule.

“We will schedule floor time for them,” Ryan told reporters at his weekly press briefing in the Capitol. “I don’t know when that is, that’s Kevin’s job.” 

Since taking the Speaker’s gavel in October, Ryan has been viewed by lawmakers and criminal justice reform advocates as an ally in overhauling sentencing and drug laws.

Ryan, a former House Budget Committee chairman, authored an anti-poverty proposal in 2014 that included sentencing reforms such as calling for more flexibility for mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.

The House Judiciary Committee has approved multiple criminal justice reform measures over the last year. In November, the panel advanced legislation by voice vote to reduce mandatory minimum prison sentences for drug offenses.

Another bill approved last month would authorize funding for public and private entities to offer academic and vocational education programs for prisoners to help reduce recidivism.

The path forward in the Senate is less clear.

Senate Republicans are divided over legislation authored by to give judges more discretion with mandatory minimum prison sentences.

Lawmakers including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley on Trump calling Putin: 'I wouldn't have a conversation with a criminal' Lawmakers zero in on Zuckerberg GOP senator blocking Trump's Intel nominee MORE (R-Iowa) are on board with Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynWhite House officials expect short-term funding bill to avert shutdown Spending bill delay raises risk of partial government shutdown support GOP leaders to Trump: Leave Mueller alone MORE's (R-Texas) bill. But conservatives such as Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump can save Republicans and restore sanity to California in 2018 Cruz says Cambridge Analytica assured him its practices were legal Dem battling Cruz in Texas: ‘I can understand how people think this is crazy’ MORE (R-Texas), a presidential candidate who won the Iowa caucuses this week, say it would let dangerous felons escape punishment.