Ryan pledges action on criminal justice reform
© Greg Nash

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThree-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Krystal Ball touts Sanders odds in Texas Republicans pour cold water on Trump's term limit idea 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 GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest Grassley'Mike Pounce' trends on Twitter after Trump slip at GOP retreat Cruz warns GOP support for expanded background checks could help elect Warren president Lawmakers applaud Trump's ban on flavored e-cigarettes MORE (R-Iowa) are on board with Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn Cornyn The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Congress set to ignore Trump's wall request in stopgap measure MORE's (R-Texas) bill. But conservatives such as Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Sunday shows - Guns dominate after Democratic debate Cruz on reported Kavanaugh allegations: There's nobody Democrats don't want to impeach MORE (R-Texas), a presidential candidate who won the Iowa caucuses this week, say it would let dangerous felons escape punishment.