President Donald Trump must face the reality of the government environment he’s found himself in. Despite his best efforts, he can’t push “victories” through via executive orders. Along these lines, he tweeted support this Friday for a criminal justice reform package that hinges on easing mandatory minimum sentences that would — in the Senate’s iteration at least — support those already behind bars and those facing federal judges in the future for drug related offenses.
The bill would only affect inmates in federal prisons, although the vast majority of the country’s prison population sits in state prisons. At that, an estimated small number of federal inmates would even benefit from the reform — known at least in the House as the First Step Act — but Trump wants it anyway.
‘Really good Criminal Justice Reform has a true shot at major bipartisan support. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Chuck Schumer have a real chance to do something so badly needed in our country. Already past, with big vote, in House. Would be a major victory for ALL!’
In reality — as is familiar in the case of presidential pronouncements from Trump — the situation is much more nuanced.
So far, McConnell has refused to bring any version of the House’s criminal justice reform package to the floor for a vote, even while surprising coalitions form behind the measure, divorced as it is from the big name partisan issues of the day. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have pushed a Senate version of the package.
However, a number of ultraconservative members of the body — like Texas Republican Ted Cruz and Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton — have expressed opposition to the effort, following in line, in the past at least, with the president’s own administration. The now former Attorney General Jeff Sessions had expressed opposition to the reform push.
Whether these hurdles can be overcome remains an open question — and at that, as mentioned, the package would only help a small number of federal inmates and calling it a major victory for ALL certainly seems questionable.
The president keeps pushing on with his rhetoric anyway.
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