Senators introduce Trump-backed criminal justice bill
© Greg Nash

Senators introduced bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation on Thursday, a day after President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago after signing bill to avert shutdown CNN, MSNBC to air ad turned down by Fox over Nazi imagery 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 GrassleySenate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Grassley raises voice after McConnell interrupts Senate speech Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general 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 DurbinTrump praises law enforcement response to shooting at Illinois business Five dead in shooting at manufacturing plant in Aurora, Illinois ‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire 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 LeeSenate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Push for paid family leave heats up ahead of 2020 New act can help us grapple with portion of exploding national debt MORE (R-Utah), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerNewsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Trump tweets video mocking Dems not cheering during State of the Union Former Virginia Gov McAuliffe writes book about confronting white nationalism MORE (D-N.J.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Memo: Trump and McCabe go to war Graham seeks new Rosenstein testimony after explosive McCabe interview Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general MORE (R-S.C.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseNew battle lines in war over Trump’s judicial picks Dems probing whether NRA made illegal contributions to Trump Senate panel advances Trump's pick for key IRS role MORE (D-R.I.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottSenate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Senate passes bill to make lynching a federal crime Partnerships paving the way to sustain and support Historically Black Colleges and Universities MORE (R-S.C.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph Leahy‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire How the border deal came together Winners and losers in the border security deal MORE (D-Vt.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstPush for paid family leave heats up ahead of 2020 Ivanka Trump to meet with GOP senators to discuss paid family leave legislation On The Money: Negotiators aiming to reach deal Monday night | Why border talks stalled | Treasury calls reports on dip in tax refunds 'misleading' | Cuomo, Trump to discuss SALT deduction cap MORE (R-Iowa), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharNewsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Pollster says current 2020 surveys like picking best picture Oscar before movies come out O’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation MORE (D-Minn.), Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranSenators optimistic about reaching funding deal GOP senators read Pence riot act before shutdown votes On The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions MORE (R-Kan.) and Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsTrump got in Dem’s face over abortion at private meeting: report Live coverage: Trump delivers State of the Union Actor Chris Evans meets with Democratic senators before State of the Union MORE (D-Del.) are currently signed onto the bill. 
 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGreen New Deal Resolution invites big picture governing ‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire Coulter defends Paul Ryan: This is 100 percent Trump's fault 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.