Moran signs on to bipartisan criminal justice reform bill

photo by: Associated Press

In this file photo from May 16, 2018, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., speaks during a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Story updated at 5:06 p.m. Monday, Nov. 26:

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran has signed on as a co-sponsor to a bill that would enact sweeping reforms in federal sentencing laws, but it remains to be seen whether the bill will come up for a vote before Congress adjourns next month.

Moran, a Kansas Republican, is one of 10 co-sponsors of the bill that was introduced earlier this month by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

Known as the “First Step Act,” the bill would give federal judges more discretion to deviate from mandatory minimum sentences for people with limited criminal history.

It would also ease the so-called “three strikes” rule by reducing the mandatory sentence for a third violent crime or drug trafficking offense to 25 years instead of life in prison.

The bill also includes a number of prison-reform measures such as requiring the Bureau of Prisons to place inmates in facilities close to their homes and families, prohibiting the shackling of pregnant inmates and providing inmates with more access to job training and other programs that aim to reduce recidivism.

Many of its provisions have already passed the U.S. House as well as the Senate Judiciary Committee. It also has support from backers as diverse as President Donald Trump and the American Civil Liberties Union.

“This crucial, sensible legislation provides an opportunity for Congress to set aside our differences and make historic progress on bipartisan criminal justice reform that will benefit Kansans and Americans,” Moran said in a statement.

But the bill still faces an uphill battle because of opposition from some conservatives, including Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who wrote in a National Review column Monday that the bill would result in shorter sentences and early release of some violent offenders.

A spokeswoman in Moran’s office said Monday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., so far has not committed to bringing it up for a vote, and if the Senate doesn’t vote, the bill would have to be reintroduced after the new Congress convenes in January.

“With broad bipartisan and stakeholder support, coupled with backing from the president, Sen. Moran believes the Senate should quickly take up the First Step Act, and is encouraging Senate leadership to bring this legislation to the Senate floor for a vote prior to the end of this Congress,” Moran spokeswoman Morgan Said said in an email.

A spokeswoman for Sen. Pat Roberts, also a Kansas Republican, said in an email that he also supports the bill.


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