Lawmakers unveil bill to combat Sessions' push for tougher sentences

Lawmakers unveil bill to combat Sessions' push for tougher sentences
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing back against Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRyan: 'The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally' Conservatives moving to impeach Rosenstein soon: report Senators urge DOJ to probe whether Russians posed as Islamic extremist hackers to harass US military families MORE’s order last week directing federal prosecutors to charge defendants with the most serious crimes possible.

Sens. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyKavanaugh paper chase heats up Senate Dems tell Trump: Don't meet with Putin one-on-one Overnight Defense: Fears rise over Trump-Putin summit | McCain presses Trump to hold Putin 'accountable' for hacking | Pentagon does damage control after NATO meet MORE (D-Vt.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulLewandowski: Trump-Putin meeting advances goal of world peace Rand Paul to travel to Russia after downplaying election meddling Implementation of a 'universal basic income' program would be a disaster MORE (R-Ky.) and Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate GOP poised to break record on Trump's court picks Schumer: Does Putin have 'damaging information' on Trump? Dem senator says it's ‘likely’ Putin has something on Trump MORE (D-Ore.) have reintroduced the Justice Safety Valve Act in response to the drastic shift from Obama-era guidelines, which urged prosecutors to crack down on violent criminals and leaders of drug cartels while being more lenient with nonviolent, low-level drug offenders.

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The legislation unveiled Tuesday gives federal judges the ability to impose sentences below the mandatory minimums when appropriate.

Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottTop Dems urge Trump officials to reverse suspension of ObamaCare payments Overnight Health Care: Judge blocks Kentucky Medicaid work requirements | Trump officials consider cuts to ObamaCare outreach | House probes HHS office in charge of migrant children Top House Dems request broad investigations into Trump immigration policy MORE (D-Va.) introduced a companion bill in the House.

Paul was quick to criticize Sessions’s order last week, writing in a CNN op-ed that the directive would "accentuate the injustice in our criminal justice system."

“Mandatory minimum sentences disproportionally affect minorities and low-income communities, while doing little to keep us safe and turning mistakes into tragedies. As this legislation demonstrates, Congress can come together in a bipartisan fashion to change these laws,” he said in a statement Tuesday.

The lawmakers claim the judicial discretion created by the two-page bill will help reduce the bloated federal prison population and tackle dangerous overcrowding while ensuring sentences fit the circumstances of the crime.