Obama meets with lawmakers on criminal justice reform
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President Obama met with some leading congressional proponents of criminal justice reform on Tuesday.
 
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The bipartisan group of 16 lawmakers included Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), two rising Republican stars who have backed reforms meant to reduce the number of adults in prison. They were joined by Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who have proposed moderate changes to the mandatory minimum sentences for some nonviolent drug crimes.
 
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), the Democrat sponsoring a significant update to the nation's primary law dictating how to treat minors in custody, was also in attendance.
 
Notably absent from the meeting was Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who along with Whitehouse is the sponsor of a major prison reform bill, and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and who is backing the juvenile justice bill.
 
Grassley was the only top member of either the House or Senate judiciary committees not to attend. House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and ranking member Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) attended the meeting, as did Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).
 
At a time when congressional Republicans and the White House are at loggerheads over several issues, the meeting was another sign that there is some level of bipartisan agreement that changes must be made to federal criminal justice policies.
 
But what form those reforms might takes remains in question. Some in Congress want reforms made to the mandatory minimums, while others — like Cornyn and Grassley — have expressed a preference for other prison reforms that do not change the drug sentences.
 
The administration has indicated that it would be open to a range of possibilities.