President Trump said Tuesday he believes the criminal justice reform bill will pass, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, under pressure, vowed to bring the legislation to the Senate floor for a vote as early as this week.
McConnell, R-Ky., made the decision after more than three years of bipartisan congressional support for the policy that would overhaul the nation’s sentencing laws. The bill has been supported by a large group of lawmakers, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
McConnell announced Tuesday that "at the request of the President and following improvements to the legislation that have been secured by several members, the Senate will take up the recently revised Criminal Justice bill" this work period. McConnell's office noted that the bill could be taken up "as early as the end of this week."
"Members should now be prepared to work between Christmas and New Year's if necessary in order to complete our work," McConnell announced. Because the bill has been revised, the Senate would need to bounce it back to the House. In January, Democrats take back the majority in that chamber of Congress, while the Senate maintains a GOP hold.
The president applauded McConnell's decision to move the bill to the floor. Trump first announced his support for the legislation last month.
“We got word that Mitch McConnell, we’re putting up for a vote,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office Tuesday. “Criminal Justice Reform is something people have been working on for many years. It looks like it is going to be passing in a bipartisan way.”
If the legislation passes, it could be considered a rare bipartisan policy achievement for Congress and the largest sentencing overhaul in decades.
The bill has been a top priority for the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, who has been working behind the scenes as a liaison between the White House and Congress for the last two years.
In an exclusive interview with Fox News’ “Hannity” Monday night, Kushner touted his work spearheading the bill, which he said was “very close” to becoming law. He said the bill would reduce mandatory prison terms for certain drug crimes and give judges in some cases more discretion on punishments.
It additionally would allow about 2,600 federal prisoners sentenced for crack-cocaine offenses before August 2010 the opportunity to petition for reduced penalties, and would include provisions to encourage education and workforce training in prisons. Roughly 90 percent of prison inmates are held in state facilities and would not be affected by the legislation.
“This bill will accomplish a lot to make our communities safer,” Kushner said. “The recidivism rate that we have is way too high, and not doing anything about that is irresponsible. And we’re allowing people to go back to our communities who we can help, and there’s a lot of programs based in red states that we’ve really modeled this off of, so we know this works.”
One of the red states Kushner referenced is Texas. Cornyn also touted the state program, noting it is “proof positive that you can close the revolving door of incarceration, reduce crime, and save taxpayer dollars at the same time.”
Kushner explained that “what it is, is going into the prisons and giving job training, vocational training, mentorship…mental health treatment, drug addiction treatment to people who are coming out, who are nonviolent offenders and figuring out how when they leave prison they have a better chance of getting a job and re-entering society in a productive manner than going back to a life of crime.”
Kushner said the bill “ranks all the different inmates” in the federal prison system under their “likelihood of committing a crime in the future” and allows the government to “put the focus on the nonviolent people are have a low risk.”
Fox News' Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.