An effort led by senior White House adviser Jared Kushner to both increase prison security and provide a pathway out for some 4,000 well-behaved prisoners has scored a major, and lopsided, victory, the first major bipartisan deal for the Trump White House.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 25-5 to back the “First Step Act,” a shocking turn after the media had earlier written off chances that it would pass.
“We see it as a big win,” said an administration official involved in the talks between House Republicans and Democrats.
While it falls short of everything both sides had sought, especially sentencing reforms wanted by Democrats, some in the White House see the negotiations as a compromise “model” for future legislative projects.
White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said, “The president and his administration are pleased the House Judiciary Committee has voted to pass prison reform legislation. This is a bipartisan issue with bipartisan support because studies show this bill will reduce crime and save taxpayer dollars. We are encouraged by the committee’s passage of the bill and look forward to a vote in the full House.”
To win support, Kushner, the White House, and the bill sponsors had to maneuver through a political minefield and competing interests. Democrats were eager for easing prison terms, Republicans wanted to get tough and Attorney General Jeff Sessions had as a senator vowed to fight prison reform initiatives.
President Trump’s son-in-law also formed unusual alliances. For example Kushner joined ultra liberal Van Jones and conservative icon Grover Norquist to promote the issue to the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus.
He also traveled to Capitol Hill twice with former Sen. Jim DeMint, also the former Heritage Foundation president who is part of the Right On Crime effort.
In the end, the First Step Act, which now goes to the full House for a vote, provides help for inmates who are a low security threat, barring help to sexual offenders and murderers.
It also spends more on prisons while trying to figure a way to cut incarcerations.
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Source: Washington Examiner