Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday the upper chamber will vote this month on criminal justice reform, and lawmakers should expect to work between Christmas and the new year.
The reform effort, the bipartisan First Step Act, aims to reduce the number of people in the nation’s prisons. The Senate could take up the bill as soon as Friday.
Senate judiciary committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, worked across the aisle to write the bill.
“This is an opportunity we shouldn’t let anybody deter us from,” Grassley said. “We have [a] once-in-a-generation opportunity to accomplish something on criminal justice reform. We should move on it.”
President Donald Trump said he supports the bill, too.
“It is extremely popular and has strong bipartisan support,” Trump tweeted last week. “It will also help a lot of people, save taxpayer dollars and keep our communities safe.”
Speaking at the Project Safe Neighborhoods national conference in Kansas City, Trump said the criminal justice reform will help inmates pick up skills.
“We all benefit when those who have served their time can find a job, support their families and stay the hell out of jail,” he said.
The U.S. criminal justice system costs roughly $270 billion a year to operate, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. There are about 2.2 million people incarcerated in the system, and each costs about $31,000 a year to stay there.
Adding the bill to the 2018 calendar means “members should be prepared to work between Christmas and New Year’s,” McConnell said. He also urged senators to “work together or prepare for a very, very long month.”
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