Republicans in the US House of Representatives are reportedly working on a prison and sentencing reform package, combining the First Step Act with other sentencing reform provisions. The First Step Act was already passed by the House in May and the sentencing bills have bipartisan Senate backing, according to The Hill. President Trump said he believes the First Step Act could be passed into law and expressed his support for it at a meeting with inner city faith leaders August 3. The meeting had made headlines when one of its attendees – Pastor Darrell Scott – praised Trump for being the “most pro-black President” in his lifetime, a quote that went viral.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) told media he thinks both prison reform and sentencing reform can be moved forward as a combination. “I think we made great progress so it doesn’t have to be broken up,” he said. “There seems to be an interest on the part of the White House now to keeping the bills together.” The Senator also threatened Attorney General Jeff Sessions, saying instead of voicing opposition to the legislation, he should “stay out of it” because of “all that I have done to help Sessions to keep the President from firing him.”
“The question is how little sentencing reform we can put in there without losing the Democrats and how much we can put in there without losing more than a handful of Republicans, and we think we’ve about cracked that formula,” a source told The Hill. Craig DeRoche, senior vice president for advocacy and public policy at the largest global Christian prison ministry, praised the President’s efforts. DeRoche noted that there is “widespread consensus” for the package that “will make communities safer and will set people up for success rather than failure” after serving time. The Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, and the American Conservative Union are also united behind the proposals.