Kushner Push on Prison Reform Gets Resistance

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Jared Kushner met with Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill Wednesday to build momentum for prison legislation that could advance to the House floor as soon as next week. He has a problem in the Senate, where members of both parties are pushing a broader criminal justice package and are loath to scale it back despite entreaties from President Trump’s son-in-law-turned-adviser, Politico reports. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has shown little eagerness to accommodate the Trump administration’s interest in a smaller-scale bill that excludes sentencing changes. Kushner urged lawmakers to treat the prison reform bill as a down payment that would boost the prospects for an overhaul of sentencing rules. “You get the rock rolling, [then] you can do other things,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA). “But first, you have to get the rock rolling.”

Kushner talked about prison reform with Speaker Paul Ryan among others. Liberal commentator Van Jones’s group Cut50 sees a potential House Judiciary Committee markup next week as premature. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said, “We still have a long way to go to get it to the point where [the bill] could get substantial Democratic support.” Outstanding issues include ensuring medium- to high-risk offenders can take part in training programs, the treatment of female prisoners and the “good time” credits that would allow a prisoner to serve part of a sentence in a halfway house. If the prison-only bill can pass the House, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) said he would ask Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to take it up in the Senate. More than 60 groups, including the ACLU and the NAACP, warned the House Judiciary Committee that tackling back end of imprisonment rules without the front end of sentencing reform is “doomed to fail.”

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