Meantime, the Republicans are duking it out over sentencing reform. Politico covers the story:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell faces snowballing pressure to tackle an overhaul of the criminal justice system. But deep dissension within his own party — between pro-reform Republicans and law-and-order types — is threatening one of the few items on the congressional agenda with a real chance of becoming law this year.
Criminal justice legislation is backed by the two top vote-counters of each party in the Senate and a powerful right-left coalition. It was bolstered by a presidential shout-out in the State of the Union last week. Passing a bill would advance McConnell’s favorite narrative — that the Senate is working again.
But loosening some mandatory minimum sentences is still a toxic suggestion among a vocal segment of the GOP, criticism that the presidential primary could amplify. Some backers of the bill fret that Sen. Ted Cruz, who’s vaulted into the top tier in the GOP presidential primary, might seize on the issue ahead of the Iowa caucuses. The Texas Republican has warned that a bill pending in the Senate could release violent criminals into the streets.
Still, backers are pressing ahead. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), McConnell’s top deputy, has lobbied the majority leader to take up the proposal early this year. Backers say the Senate has to move on criminal justice reform quickly, perhaps as soon as next month, for the measure to have any hope of reaching President Barack Obama’s desk.