The White House claimed a major legislative victory after the Senate on Tuesday night overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill backed by President Trump.
Lawmakers approved the bill 87-12, after defeating three amendments pushed by conservative Republicans. The measure now goes to the House, where it is expected to be approved quickly. Its passage would mark a significant win for Trump and his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who worked the halls of Congress for months in an effort to forge a compromise.
Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), a leader on criminal justice reform, joined Fox News Radio's Guy Benson and Marie Harf to discuss the victory for criminal justice reform.
On criminal justice reform passing: We have groundbreaking legislation called The First Act passed in a bipartisan coalition 87 to 12. Shocking and we were able to work off of the hard and dedicated staffers at the Heritage Foundation, FreedomWorks, ACU and other groups all worked together in a collaborative effort to make sure that we had smart strong Criminal Justice Reform that actually produces safer communities because our primary objective is community justice reform not criminal justice reform. (1:02)
On the concerns people had about certain people getting out early who shouldn't: One of the things that we attempted to do was to articulate and enumerate the classes of people who are not eligible, but the truth is the more we did that the more complicated it became because the goal was to say if you are not a low offender non-violent offender you're not eligible. We kept getting questions so we kept adding to the list. The reality of it is there is catch-all in the bill that simply says this is for low-risk individuals who are not violent. So, that catch-all category is the category that matters the most... As a kid who grew up in some of the poorest neighborhoods in North Charleston, South Carolina where I've had folks break into my house the things I thought about most with this Criminal Justice Reform were the kids who are coming home to neighborhoods like mine. So if we're able to lower the crime rate in those neighborhoods because the recidivism programs that are embedded in the legislation we actually have less crime in those neighborhoods which means more public safety. (2:27)
On what is next: You need to encourage and incentivize these inmates to do what the best thing is for their own lives and most importantly to rehabilitate them for the community that they're returning to. If we focus on the outcome we're looking for in the communities that were trying to protect and work our way back to the inmate we find the best path forward. (5:29)
On how the president got involved to endorse this: There's no doubt that Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, played a significant role in encouraging the president to take a second look at whether or not the policies that were talking about leads to the outcomes we want for the communities. After doing this hard research, our president is a president that actually pays attention does his homework and then comes to his conclusion, no one actually tells President Trump what he's going to do or what he's not going to do. The reality of it is that because of the homework he did he decided that America is the land of redemption. It is the land of second chances if you earn it. It cannot be given to you. (7:44)