Internal divisions among Senate Republicans will delay consideration of a prison reform bill backed by President Donald Trump that’s set to pass the House this week — and potentially prevent the legislation from becoming law this year.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is highly unlikely to try to move the bill while Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is opposed to it, according to Republican senators and aides. Still smarting that his broader criminal justice bill never came to the floor in 2016, Grassley is holding out for a more sweeping bill this time around rather than the narrower approach that the House and some GOP senators are taking.
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And McConnell is not interested in circumventing his Judiciary Committee chairman and provoking an internecine fight that would eat up weeks of floor time. Plus, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a former GOP senator from Alabama, also opposes the legislation, according to a person close to him.
A Republican senator said flatly of McConnell’s view of the bill right now: “It’s not on the priority list.”