Senators introduce Trump-backed criminal justice bill
© Greg Nash

Senators introduced bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation on Thursday, a day after President TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer Joint Chiefs chairman: 'The last thing in the world we need right now is a war with Iran' Pence: 'We're not convinced' downing of drone was 'authorized at the highest levels' Trump: Bolton would take on the whole world at one time 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.
 
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In addition to Grassley and Durbin, Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Defense: Officials brief Congress after Iran shoots down drone | Lawmakers fear 'grave situation' | Trump warns Iran | Senate votes to block Saudi arms sales | Bombshell confession at Navy SEAL's murder trial The 7 GOP senators who voted to block all or part of Trump's Saudi arms sale Senate votes to block Trump's Saudi arms sale MORE (R-Utah), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDemocrats talk up tax credits to counter Trump law Democrats target Florida Hispanics in 2020 Ghosts of 2016 primary haunt Democrats MORE (D-N.J.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP senators divided over approach to election security GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks Trump urged to quickly fill Pentagon post amid Iran tensions MORE (R-S.C.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSize of 2020 field too big even for Democratic enthusiasts, poll finds Overnight Defense: House passes T spending package with defense funds | Senate set to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales | UN nominee defends climate change record Trump's UN pick faces Senate grilling MORE (D-R.I.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottThe Hill's Morning Report - Democrats frustrated by Hope Hicks's silence Only black GOP senator Tim Scott calls reparations a 'non-starter' On The Money: Trump weighs emergency declaration for Mexico tariffs | GOP senators look to rein in Trump on trade | Powell says Fed may cut rates if trade war hurts economy MORE (R-S.C.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyCongress unlikely to reach deal on Trump border bill before break GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks Hillicon Valley: House panel advances election security bill | GOP senator targets YouTube with bill on child exploitation | Hicks told Congress Trump camp felt 'relief' after release of Clinton docs | Commerce blacklists five Chinese tech groups MORE (D-Vt.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstGOP frets about Trump's poll numbers GOP senators caught off guard by Shanahan withdrawal Democrats' 2020 Achilles's heel: The Senate MORE (R-Iowa), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharDemocrats talk up tax credits to counter Trump law GOP senators divided over approach to election security 2020 Democrats vow to expand abortion access at Planned Parenthood event MORE (D-Minn.), Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranOvernight Defense: Officials brief Congress after Iran shoots down drone | Lawmakers fear 'grave situation' | Trump warns Iran | Senate votes to block Saudi arms sales | Bombshell confession at Navy SEAL's murder trial The 7 GOP senators who voted to block all or part of Trump's Saudi arms sale Senate votes to block Trump's Saudi arms sale MORE (R-Kan.) and Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsDemocrats want White House hopefuls to cool it on Biden attacks Senators revive effort to create McCain human rights commission Senate Dem to reintroduce bill with new name after 'My Little Pony' confusion MORE (D-Del.) are currently signed onto the bill. 
 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP senators divided over approach to election security Democrats seek to ban federal spending at Trump businesses Congress unlikely to reach deal on Trump border bill before break 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.