Cotton jolts prison reform negotiations – politico e85 gas stations in ohio


In one instance, the request from Cotton’s camp appears to have lost the prisons bill a supporter: The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which had declared its endorsement in February, wrote to House and Senate Republican leaders on Friday announcing it was reversing that position and would oppose the prison reform bill, citing changes made to the measure in recent weeks.

“Senator Cotton believes it’s important that we get prison reform right, and that any legislation must fully protect law-abiding Americans. He’s consulted with Arkansans and several law enforcement groups and is actively working with his colleagues to address his concerns with the current bill,” Tabler said in a statement.

Cotton is perhaps the leading conservative holdout on the prisons bill, for which Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) is leading the push in the upper chamber. Like Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Cotton has decried sentencing reduction proposals and other proposals to curb incarceration for certain nonviolent offenses.

Sessions attended the White House summit on Friday, a move the bill’s backers took as a show of support after the DOJ, White House and House lawmakers spent months in detailed negotiations over the proposal. But the attorney general has not publicly weighed in on the bill.

The 41-year-old Arkansan typically aligns squarely with Trump, particularly on foreign policy and immigration, and was mentioned as a potential future CIA director for the president before the recently confirmed Gina Haspel assumed that post.

Cotton’s resistance to criminal justice reform, though, predates Trump’s 2016 victory. He contended that the nation faces an “under-incarceration problem” in a May speech that year. In a floor speech last year, he discussed a nonviolent offender granted clemency by former President Barack Obama who later was re-arrested for a smaller-scale offense.

The offender in question “was not prepared to re-enter society,” Cotton said, adding that sentencing reductions don’t “do all that much to help our society. Instead, we should focus on rehabilitating people while they’re in prison. Whatever the length of their sentence.”

The legislation, which provides training programs for prisoners, is expected on the House floor next week. Reps. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), with the backing of the White House, having been working to build support for the bill ahead of that vote, aiming for a strong bipartisan tally that will boost momentum for Cornyn’s efforts in the Senate.

A wide array of Republicans have come out for the bill, from members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus to the Koch brothers. In addition, left-leaning groups like the National Urban League and #cut50 and more than 100 former law enforcement officials including former Attorney General Michael Mukasey have backed the legislation.

But some influential opponents, including Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and civil rights groups like the ACLU and NAACP, have tried to torpedo the bill because it does nothing to address sentencing reductions, a key priority for criminal justice advocates.

Kushner has made the prison reform bill a top legislative priority of his, engaging in a months-long lobbying effort with various lawmakers on the Hill to gin up support for the idea. The bill would be a huge win for Trump’s son-in-law, who has so far failed to land a signature legislative achievement despite a sprawling policy portfolio.