Ryan pledges action on criminal justice reform
© Greg Nash

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan to host fundraiser for Cheney amid GOP tensions Boehner book jacket teases slams against Cruz, Trump CPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be 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 GrassleyWhite House open to reforming war powers amid bipartisan push Garland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks National Sheriffs' Association backs Biden pick for key DOJ role MORE (R-Iowa) are on board with Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynSenate holds longest vote in history as Democrats scramble to save relief bill Biden helps broker Senate deal on unemployment benefits Overnight Defense: Capitol Police may ask National Guard to stay | Biden's Pentagon policy nominee faces criticism | Naval Academy midshipmen moved to hotels MORE's (R-Texas) bill. But conservatives such as Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzDeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Democrats under pressure to deliver on labor's 'litmus test' bill Crenshaw pours cold water on 2024 White House bid: 'Something will emerge' MORE (R-Texas), a presidential candidate who won the Iowa caucuses this week, say it would let dangerous felons escape punishment.