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McConnell Hands Trump a Big Win, Clearing Path for Criminal Justice Reform


President Trump appears to be on track for a big legislative victory before the end of this year, thanks to an announcement from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

McConnell says he'll let the Senate vote on criminal justice reform legislation, and action on that process could start right away.

McConnell's fellow Republican senator from Kentucky had launched a big push Monday to convince him to bring up the measure for a vote. Sen. Rand Paul called on voters to put some pressure on him.

"We need the help of one person - the one person who has the power to allow this vote," Paul had said. "And I'm not saying he's stopping it. But there is one person - he's from Louisville, he's fairly well-known. And he has the power to allow or disallow this vote. And I'm asking those in Louisville to call Sen. McConnell and say, 'Please let us have this vote.'"

McConnell had previously called the measure "extremely divisive," saying Republicans were too divided on it and there were too many time constraints before year's end to bring it up for a vote.

But Paul warned the negotiated agreements between Democrats and Republicans might not last into the new session next year in which Democrats will take control of the House.

"A lot of us who are for (the) criminal justice (bill) don't want to push it to January because we kind of have a carefully worked out compromise between Republicans and Democrats, and it's not always that often that we can get together and all agree on something," he said.

President Trump had even tweeted: "Hopefully Mitch McConnell will ask for a VOTE on Criminal Justice Reform. It is extremely popular and has strong bipartisan support. It will also help a lot of people, save taxpayer dollars, and keep our communities safe. Go for it Mitch!"

The criminal justice reform bill is designed to overhaul sentencing of prisoners in an effort to reduce excessive prison time. Right now judges don't have much discretion on sentences for certain drug crimes, and the reform would allow them more latitude. Paul said violent criminals certainly deserve to be locked up, but he said drug addicts are another story.

The reform measure would only apply to about 10 percent of US inmates since 90 percent are actually housed in state prisons.




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