Ryan pledges action on criminal justice reform
© Greg Nash

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan will attend Biden's inauguration COVID-19 relief bill: A promising first act for immigration reform National Review criticizes 'Cruz Eleven': Barbara Boxer shouldn't be conservative role model 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.” 

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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 GrassleyChuck GrassleyMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Overnight Health Care: Biden unveils COVID-19 relief plan | Post-holiday surge hits new deadly records | Senate report faults 'broken' system for insulin price hikes Report faults 'broken' system for insulin price spikes MORE (R-Iowa) are on board with Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynCruz, Cornyn to attend Biden inauguration McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Rick Scott will 'likely' join challenge to election results MORE's (R-Texas) bill. But conservatives such as Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz, Cornyn to attend Biden inauguration For platform regulation Congress should use a European cheat sheet Former GOP congressman says he's leaving party: 'This has become a cult' MORE (R-Texas), a presidential candidate who won the Iowa caucuses this week, say it would let dangerous felons escape punishment.