Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner pointed out a big obstacle for the brewing criminal justice reform effort at a public briefing Thursday.
In response to a question from The Daily Caller News Foundation, Sensenbrenner said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte was not on board with the SAFE Justice Act, a comprehensive reform bill that has been backed by advocates on both sides of the aisle.
“I’ll be really honest to say that Chairman Goodlatte is not on board at this point in time which is one of the reasons that I want to get a good number of cosponsors,” said Sensenbrenner, who serves on the committee under Goodlatte. “Because that certainly does not escape that the legislation has a very, very wide and broad support.”
A House Judiciary Committee aide told TheDCNF Goodlatte has announced a criminal justice reform initiative and said he is open to considering reforms. It appears Goodlatte is not opposed to all reforms but isn’t behind the SAFE Justice Act, which is gaining steam.
“I think we have the votes in the Judiciary Committee because there are a lot of Republican members, as well as most of the Democrat members who think that this bill is necessary and a very good idea and worthy of their support,” Sensenbrenner said.
House Speaker John Boehner announced his support for the bill last week, saying many people are in prison for “flimsy reasons
“I think the endorsement of Speaker Boehner on this is to kind of to prod to get this moving in the Judiciary Committee,” Sensenbrenner said at the briefing, which was held by the American Conservative Union
and Families Against Mandatory Minimums
to feature the conservative side of the push for criminal justice reform. “That’s where my efforts are aimed at the present time.”
The bill has 36 cosponsors, 18 Democrat and 18 Republican, with Sensenbrenner and Democrat Rep. Bobby Scott leading the charge. That number has grown from 20 cosponsors since the bill was first announced a month ago.