Senators introduce Trump-backed criminal justice bill
© Greg Nash

Senators introduced bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation on Thursday, a day after President TrumpDonald John TrumpReturn hope to the Middle East by returning to the Iran Deal Government shutdowns tend to increase government spending 'Full Frontal' gives six-bedroom house to group that works with detained immigrants 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. 
 
Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyFive takeaways from the court decision striking down ObamaCare The Year Ahead: Tough tests loom for Trump trade agenda Senate heads toward floor fight on criminal justice bill MORE (R-Iowa), who has spearheaded the effort, called the bill a "landmark opportunity"—one that should get to Trump's desk during the lame duck. 
 
“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.
 
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Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinHarris announces support for White House-backed criminal justice bill Bipartisan senators doubt ruling striking down ObamaCare Durbin: Attorneys general who led ObamaCare lawsuit 'didn’t do the Republican Party any favor' 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 LeeOvernight Defense: Senate bucks Trump with Yemen war vote, resolution calling crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi killing | House briefing on Saudi Arabia fails to move needle | Inhofe casts doubt on Space Force GOP-controlled Senate breaks with Trump on Saudi vote Senate moves toward vote on ending support for Saudi-led war MORE (R-Utah), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerHarris announces support for White House-backed criminal justice bill McConnell’s marijuana conundrum: Cory Gardner The Hill's Morning Report — No deal in sight as shutdown looms MORE (D-N.J.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOcasio-Cortez: By Lindsey Graham's 1999 standard for Clinton, Trump should be impeached Senate votes to end US support for Saudi war, bucking Trump Former FBI official says Mueller won’t be ‘colored by politics’ in Russia probe MORE (R-S.C.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDems ask if Trump aide Bill Shine is breaking ethics laws Senators want assurances from attorney general pick on fate of Mueller probe Dems vs. Trump: Breaking down the lawsuits against Whitaker MORE (D-R.I.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottTrump signs order aimed at revitalizing economically distressed communities Juan Williams: Nowhere to go for black Republicans Tim Scott: Stop giving court picks with 'questionable track records on race' a Senate vote MORE (R-S.C.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyTrump finds himself isolated in shutdown fight Shutdown would affect 800K federal workers, Senate Dems say Oval Office clash ups chances of shutdown MORE (D-Vt.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstJuan Williams: The GOP's worsening problem with women Senators offer measure naming Saudi crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi slaying Trump shock leaves Republicans anxious over 2019 MORE (R-Iowa), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharBipartisan senators doubt ruling striking down ObamaCare Klobuchar: 'Of course we're willing to work with' Republicans to avoid shutdown Klobuchar calls ObamaCare ruling 'absurd' MORE (D-Minn.), Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranSenators ask FBI to investigate whether former Olympic CEO lied to panel The Year Ahead: Push for privacy bill gains new momentum Senators want assurances from attorney general pick on fate of Mueller probe MORE (R-Kan.) and Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsSenators prepare for possibility of Christmas in Washington during a shutdown Dem senator: Trump 'seems more rattled than usual' Dem: 'Disheartening' that Republicans who 'stepped up' to defend Mueller are leaving MORE (D-Del.) are currently signed onto the bill. 
 
 
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.