Senators Up for Election Likely Killed Justice Bill: Grassley

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In what the Des Moines Register calls “a frank assessment of how politics dictates policy in the Senate,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) tells the newspaper’s editorial board he believes a criminal justice reform bill with bipartisan support was denied a final vote and likely passage this year because of skittishness from Republican lawmakers up for re-election. “What happened?” Grassley asked rhetorically. “I think there were a lot of Republican senators — and a lot of them up for re-election — that went to [Majority Leader Mitch McConnell] and said, ‘Don’t take that up.’ … I don’t know to be a fact. But that’s what my gut tells me.”
Grassley said he believed he had secured support from more than half the GOP caucus to pass a bill that would overhaul federal sentencing and eliminate some mandatory minimum penalties. “If we could’ve got this up for a vote, we would’ve had 65 to 70 votes,” he said. “But you’ve got to get it up, and the leader decides when it comes up. I just think that’s the situation. A lot of people said, ‘I don’t want to deal with this because it catches me between those people that think we ought to have reform and my law enforcement people.’”

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