Senate Passes Trump-Backed Criminal Justice Reform Bill

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Henry Rodgers Chief National Correspondent
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The U.S. Senate passed a criminal justice reform bill backed by President Donald Trump on the Senate floor Tuesday night.

The bill, titled the “First Step Act,” includes both prison and sentencing reforms, in which many Republicans had been pushing to pass before Democrats take control of the House on Jan. 3. The vote was 87-12.

One failed amendment in the bill would have required the families of victims to be notified when a prisoner was released from prison. That amendment was shot down, 67-32.

The bill gained bipartisan support, even from senators such as California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, who said Monday the bill would make the “criminal justice system smarter.” (RELATED: Kamala Harris Says She Will Support Trump-Backed Criminal Justice Reform Bill)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a floor speech on Dec. 11 that it is likely the Senate will work between Christmas and New Year’s “if necessary” to pass criminal justice reform legislation before 2019.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks during a news conference following the confirmation vote of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill (Photo credit: JOSE LUIS MAGANA/AFP/Getty Images)

Funding for the government was set to expire on Dec. 7. However, the House passed a two-week resolution to avoid a government shutdown by unanimous consent in a voice vote, meaning members did not have to be present for the vote.

The bill was then approved by the Senate, which is in session, funding the government until Dec. 21.

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