Lawmakers unveil bill to combat Sessions' push for tougher sentences

Lawmakers unveil bill to combat Sessions' push for tougher sentences
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing back against Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump-aligned group launches ad campaign hitting Doug Jones on impeachment ICE subpoenas Denver law enforcement: report Bottom Line MORE’s order last week directing federal prosecutors to charge defendants with the most serious crimes possible.

Sens. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyOvernight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request Senate Dems urge Esper to oppose shifting Pentagon money to border wall Senate opens Trump impeachment trial MORE (D-Vt.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulCheney's decision not to run for Senate sparks Speaker chatter Juan Williams: Counting the votes to remove Trump Mitch McConnell may win the impeachment and lose the Senate MORE (R-Ky.) and Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyEnvironmentalists, Oregon senators oppose DOT increasing transport of natural gas by rail Senate Democrat says he is concerned intelligence community is 'bending' Soleimani presentations Democrats conflicted over how to limit Trump's war powers MORE (D-Ore.) have reintroduced the Justice Safety Valve Act in response to the drastic shift from Obama-era guidelines, which urged prosecutors to crack down on violent criminals and leaders of drug cartels while being more lenient with nonviolent, low-level drug offenders.

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The legislation unveiled Tuesday gives federal judges the ability to impose sentences below the mandatory minimums when appropriate.

Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottHoyer: Democratic chairmen trying to bridge divide on surprise medical bills To support today's students, Congress must strengthen oversight of colleges Democratic lawmaker tears into DeVos: You're 'out to destroy public education' MORE (D-Va.) introduced a companion bill in the House.

Paul was quick to criticize Sessions’s order last week, writing in a CNN op-ed that the directive would "accentuate the injustice in our criminal justice system."

“Mandatory minimum sentences disproportionally affect minorities and low-income communities, while doing little to keep us safe and turning mistakes into tragedies. As this legislation demonstrates, Congress can come together in a bipartisan fashion to change these laws,” he said in a statement Tuesday.

The lawmakers claim the judicial discretion created by the two-page bill will help reduce the bloated federal prison population and tackle dangerous overcrowding while ensuring sentences fit the circumstances of the crime.