Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Il.) advised House Judiciary members to oppose a narrower prison reform bill without the addition of a sentencing overhaul they spent months negotiating.
The House Judiciary Committee scrapped plans to vote on a prison reform proposal Wednesday, Politico reports. The last-minute postponement of the measure came as President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner visited Capitol Hill to rally support for it. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Il.) advised House Judiciary members to oppose a narrower prison reform bill without the addition of a sentencing overhaul they spent months negotiating. The Trump administration and GOP leaders want to see a prison-only bill move, not the broader criminal justice bill, but that’s not stopping Grassley and Durbin from what one Republican portrayed as meddling in the House debate. “Frankly, I respect the two senators, but they have enough problems in the Senate,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), lead author of the prison bill. “I wish they would actually focus on passing bills over there. That would be nice.”
Durbin talked to the House Judiciary panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, about the importance of keeping the two bills together; Grassley has reached out to Republicans to pitch a comprehensive approach. “We think they’re both important ideas, and the notion of running on one and not on the other is just not acceptable,” Durbin said. The Senate’s lobbying threatens to kill momentum for the Kushner-backed House bill, which would provide training to prisoners in hopes of discouraging repeat offenses. The omission of sentencing changes is opposed by dozens of powerful progressive groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP. House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) blamed the vote delay on “time constraints” and said the postponement will give negotiators more time to work out “minor issues.” The panel is scheduled to consider the bill during the week of May 7.