Dem Presidential Hopefuls Split on Sentencing Reform

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Democrats who are mulling 2020 presidential bids are split over whether to support a prison-sentencing reform measure and give President Trump one of his biggest bipartisan accomplishments, The Hill reports. The decision to support or oppose the bill is a significant policy decision for 2020 hopefuls. The issue has split groups on the left and is sure to come up in presidential primary debates next year. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Il.), the chief Democratic negotiator, has agreed to move the legislation to the right in recent days to mollify Republican critics, but that has divided fellow Democrats who are eyeing the White House. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Ca.), a former prosecutor, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Ma.), a prominent voice on the left, are undecided. Harris said she is balancing the “ideal” against not letting “perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Warren said she has heard mixed feedback from advocates of sentencing reform who are divided over whether the legislation goes far enough. “We’re still looking at the details. Overall, it’s not nearly as comprehensive as we need but it appears to be an important first step,” she said, adding, “I’ve heard from groups who are pleased that there has been some effort made and other groups that are sharply disappointed they can’t do more.” The bill would mark one of Trump’s biggest bipartisan accomplishments. His biggest such achievement to date was the spending deal that Republican and Democratic leaders reached this year that increased spending by $300 billion over 2018 and 2019. A Senate Democratic aide said that because of Harris’s career as a prosecutor, she may be careful about backing sentencing reform legislation that is panned by constituent groups as weak.

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