Senate

Harris announces support for White House-backed criminal justice bill

Stefani Reynolds

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said on Monday that she will support a White House-backed criminal justice bill that the Senate is expected to vote on this week.

Harris, a former prosecutor and potential 2020 White House contender, called the bill a “compromise of a compromise” but said she would vote for it because it “takes positive steps to improve our justice system.”

{mosads}“I have fought to improve our criminal justice system for the better part of my career. This is another step in that direction,” Harris said in a statement.

The bill merges a House-passed prison reform bill with a handful of changes to sentencing laws and mandatory minimums for some drug-related felonies.

Supporters last week unveiled a final version of the bill aimed at winning over more GOP support, and the Senate is expected to take an initial vote on the legislation Monday at 5:30 p.m.

Harris said the bill made “long overdue” changes, including retroactively applying the Fair Sentencing Act, but argued that each of the changes to mandatory minimums should apply retroactively — a move that would likely shrink GOP support for the bill.

“All of the Act’s sentencing reforms should be applied retroactively, and the Act should further expand application of earned good time credits, place more prohibitions on private prisons which profit from the incarceration of individuals, and further limit the use of electronic monitoring,” Harris added.

Though the bill likely has the votes to pass, Harris’s backing marks a major win for supporters of the legislation, who worried the chamber’s progressive wing could refuse to support the bill because of President Trump’s endorsement.

Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who is also considered a potential 2020 contender, have been furiously lobbying their colleagues to support the legislation. Booker warned last week that he would be “deeply disappointed” if a Democratic senator voted against it.

“People in my caucus who are progressives who understand … some elements of the bill, 90 percent of the beneficiaries will be African-Americans,” Booker said at the time. “I would be deeply disappointed if anybody in our caucus votes against a bill that is going to disproportionally help low-income people and minorities.”

Tags Cory Booker Dick Durbin Donald Trump

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