Senators introduce Trump-backed criminal justice bill
© Greg Nash

Senators introduced bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation on Thursday, a day after President TrumpDonald John TrumpForget the spin: Five unrefuted Mueller Report revelations Lara Trump: Merkel admitting migrants 'one of the worst things that ever happened to Germany' Financial satisfaction hits record high: survey MORE threw his support behind the issue. 

The formal introduction of the bill, which combines a House-passed prison reform bill with changes to sentencing laws, comes as lawmakers are trying to get criminal justice reform passed by the end of the year. 
 
 
“President Trump has shown real leadership to advance these important reforms – the most significant in a generation. We have a real opportunity to make these important reforms a reality before the end of the year,” Grassley said.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDurbin calls Mueller report findings on Trump team 'troubling' Congress opens door to fraught immigration talks McConnell: 'Past time' for immigration-border security deal MORE (D-Ill.), who has been negotiating with Grassley, argued that the legislation is the "best chance in a generation to make meaningful changes in our federal drug sentencing laws." 
 
In addition to Grassley and Durbin, Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeHillicon Valley: Facebook expects up to B FTC fine | DHS face scanning at airports sparks alarm | New Twitter tool targets election misinformation | Lawmakers want answers on Google 'Sensorvault' Dems accuse White House of caving to Trump's 'ego' on Russian meddling Kushner saying immigration plan will be 'neutral' on legal admissions: report MORE (R-Utah), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBooker fundraises off Biden announcement The symbol of 'Wakanda' and black political vision The Hill's Morning Report - Trump tells House investigators 'no' MORE (D-N.J.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamBarr to testify before Senate panel next week on Mueller report Kushner saying immigration plan will be 'neutral' on legal admissions: report Africa's women can change a continent: Will Ivanka give them her full support? MORE (R-S.C.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseHillicon Valley: Washington preps for Mueller report | Barr to hold Thursday presser | Lawmakers dive into AI ethics | FCC chair moves to block China Mobile | Dem bill targets 'digital divide' | Microsoft denies request for facial recognition tech Dems introduce bill to tackle 'digital divide' Senators press drug industry 'middlemen' over high prices MORE (D-R.I.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottGOP senators dismiss Booker reparations proposal On The Money — Presented by Job Creators Network — GOP senators urge Trump not to nominate Cain | Treasury expected to miss Dem deadline on Trump tax returns | Party divisions force Dems to scrap budget vote | House passes IRS reform bill GOP senators urge Trump not to pick Cain for Fed MORE (R-S.C.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyDurbin calls Mueller report findings on Trump team 'troubling' 20 Dems demand no more money for ICE agents, Trump wall The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump, Dems prep for Mueller report's release MORE (D-Vt.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstTime to keep the promises for farmers to compete in energy Graham challenges Dems to walk the walk on impeachment McConnell pledges to be 'Grim Reaper' for progressive policies MORE (R-Iowa), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHarris wins town hall war among CNN viewers Cory Booker releases 10 years of tax returns Dems accuse White House of caving to Trump's 'ego' on Russian meddling MORE (D-Minn.), Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranLive coverage: Barr faces Senate panel as he prepares release of Mueller report Hillicon Valley — Presented by CTIA and America's wireless industry — House panel approves bill restoring net neutrality | FTC asks for more help to police tech | Senate panel advances bill targeting illegal robocalls Senate panel advances bill penalizing illegal robocalls MORE (R-Kan.) and Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsMenendez, Rubio lead Senate effort to regulate Venezuelan sanctions Dem report questions State Dept. decision to revoke award to Trump critic Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements MORE (D-Del.) are currently signed onto the bill. 
 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellElection agency limps into 2020 cycle The Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? Dems charge ahead on immigration MORE (R-Ky.) began the process of placing the bill on the Senate calendar on Thursday night, allowing it to skip over the committee process.
 
That does not guarantee it ultimately gets brought up on the floor. In order to be considered for a vote Grassley and Durbin will need to show McConnell they have more than 60 votes — the amount needed for passage. 

“We don’t have a lot of time left," McConnell told reporters this week. "The first step is to finalize what proponents are actually for. There have been a lot of different versions floating around. And then we’ll whip it and see where the vote count is and then see how it stacks up against our other priorities going into the end of the session."

The bill would take the House-passed prison reform bill, which passed 360-59 in May, and add four sentencing provisions. 
 
It would retroactively apply the Fair Sentencing Act in an attempt to reduce the disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenses; expand an existing safety valve for mandatory minimum sentencing that would not apply retroactively and clarify a stacking provision on crimes committed with a firearm. 
 
The sentencing provisions also include reducing lifetime mandatory minimum sentences after two prior felony drug convictions to at least 25 years and reducing minimum sentences after one prior conviction from 20 to 15 years. 
 
Senators and the White House are expected to lobby to get the bill through Congress by the end of the year. Trump, during a White House event on Wednesday, urged lawmakers to send him a bill. 
 
“I urge lawmakers in both House and Senate to work hard and to act quickly and send a final bill to my desk, and I look very much forward to signing it," he said. 
 
But there are early signs of entrenched conservative opposition, raising the possibility that even Trump's backing could fail to get the bill across the finish line. 
 
 
"Nowhere is this more true than with so called 'criminal-justice reform,' which is just a misguided effort to let serious felons out of prison," he wrote.