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Trump lays off McConnell as criminal justice reform stalls

December 3, 2018 US 0 Views The last time Donald Trump thought Mitch McConnell was staging one of his priorities…

The last time Donald Trump thought Mitch McConnell was staging one of his priorities – on Obamacare repeal – the president publicly lashed out at the Senate majority leader, tweeting that he should “get back to work.” Men når det kommer til strafferetlig reform, er det en anden historie helt.

Selv om Trump har offentligt endorsed the bipartisan prison og sentencing reformbilde, har han ikke offentligt kaldt McConnell for flasking det op og synes reluctant at tilbringe politisk kapital på The legislation – raising doubts among bill supporters and opponents about how invested Trump really is. Indeed, the president is far more interested in securing money for his border wall in the lame duck, According to senators in both parties.

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“We can certainly use his help in the Republican Senate caucus,” said Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who admitted that Trump’s priority is the wall .

“I keep hearing that’s he’s all for it. I have not seen any evidence of that, “said one GOP senator who supports the measure to reform federal prisons and sentencing guidelines.

For lawmakers, the issue has highlighted the difficulty of working with the president on legislation. Aside from immigration and trade, the president holds few firm convictions on matters of policy and frequently shifts positions to please the people in front of him, making him a frustrating negotiating partner.

Trump took up the cause of criminal justice reform last month at the urging of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, but the president’s endorsement was as much an effort to distract from Republican losses in de midterm elections als een reflection of his heartfelt convictions, according to two sources familiar with his thinking. Indeed, Trump had previously said that some of the drug offenders to whom the bill would show leniency should receive the death penalty.

Although advocates insist that the president is committed to the bill and are heartened by his public support, some allies in Congress are hoping he does more with his bully pulpit to pull the bill across the finish line, according to interviews with people in both parties.

“It’s not like he cares about the First Step Act as much as he cares about the wall, “Trump be tweeting about the First Step Act as much as he tweets about [special counsel Robert] Mueller? Sure. But outside of tax reform and immigration, I can not think of an issue he’s been more supportive of. “

Trump has only sporadically mentioned the bill in his Twitter feed despite an urgent time crunch on Capitol Hill and rarely brings it up unsolicited in interviews or remarks with reporters.

Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman, said Trump endorsed the bill after many debates and meetings with the bill’s supporters in GOP Senate leadership. “

The president was always a hard selling on the law, partly because it divided law enforcement groups, according to a White House official. Trump is not going to walk away from it now, the official said, but he will not make it his top priority over the next month either.

Instead, the president is publicly concentrating his attacks on Democrats on border wall funding – and laying off McConnell about his reluctance to bring up the criminal justice bill.

“This is not an either-or proposition,” said Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). “He and his White House have endorsed the First Step Act and continue to advocate for better security along our southern border. I’m working to get both of them across the finish line. “

Still, Trump’s difficulties are twofold: He must persuade a skeptical McConnell to make floor time for a bill that the majority leader himself has yet to endorse and also reckon with the bill’s haters, including allies like Sen. Tom Cotton. The Arkansas Republican is attacking the measure as soft on crime as supporters in both parties, trying to revise it to appeal to more Republicans. “I do not know,” it’s short of the support levels with which McConnell is comfortable.

t think [Trump’s] overly invested. Men jeg tror han ville like det å passere fordi det ville være en annen prestasjon for hans administrasjon, sier Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

Republicans in Congress say that Trump likes that the bill is bipartisan and loves that it could amount to a significant legislative win heading into his reelection campaign.

Trump offered a modest rallying cry on Twitter last month, though he lumped in Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.), Who is not at all a roadblock to the legislation.

“Really good Criminal Justice Reform has a true shot at major bipartisan support. @senatemajldr Mitch McConnell and @SenSchumer have a real chance to do something so badly needed in our country, “Trump wrote. “Would be a major victory for ALL!”

Grassley has taken to Twitter to cheer Trump’s endorsement and urge him to push past intraparty resistance.

“We do not have to rely just on the Republican leadership whip check,” Grassley noted, a subtle acknowledgment that GOP leaders are not yet sold on taking the bill. “And it looks very good to the White House.”

But Trump is hazy on the details and has privately raised some concerns about the bill. He’s also caught John Kelly and White House advisers Kellyanne Conway and Stephen Miller reluctant to move forward and Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., from the various factions in his own White House, according to a republican who often speaks with the president. and Kushner pushing for the legislation.

“Jared’s invested in it. And therefore [Trump] is. But he has not called me, “said a second Republican senator. Kushner and Vice President Mike Pence attended a GOP lunch on Tuesday as they watched Republicans debate it internally; Kushner remained silent, though Pence advocated for the bill.

In a further sign of a split in the administration, a Justice Department draft of a revised bill leaked recently, with the name of Steven Cook, a top DOJ official and ally of Shapes Attorney General Jeff Sessions attached. The White House was forced to publicly disavow the controversial proposal.

“While senior staff is 100 percent behind the Senate’s compromise, it’s the president, and only the president, who determines what legislation the White House supports, and he supports the First Step Act, “said a second White House official.

Yet the bill still has not seen action despite Trump’s endorsement.

One reason that Trump is not leaning on McConnell publicly is that their relationship has improved Significantly since last August.

McConnell has delivered two Supreme Court justices and tax reforms, earning trust from the president and proving the GOP leader knows what’s best for his conference. McConnell’s allies kept reminding the president in the summer of 2017, despite Trump’s indicates that the GOP was short of the votes to repeal Obamacare. And on criminal justice reform, the Republican leader may want 30 of his 51 members to support the bill public icly before moving forward, wary of advancing on an issue that splits Republicans.

But Trump’s deference to McConnell on criminal justice reform could be deadly for the law.

McConnell has never endorsed the bill and intends to confirm judges, avoiding a shutdown and clinching a deal on the farm bill. Advocates like Durbin claim the GOP leader is the only impediment to passage: “It’s totally in his hands.”

“Mitch is trying to juggle a bunch of bowling balls,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “What’s the most important thing we’ve got to do? … For Mitch, it’s judges.

The criminal justice bill, Graham added, “is a start-up project that becomes much harder” once Democrats take the House in January.

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