President Donald Trump (L) shakes hands with police chief Paul Cell of the International Association of Police Chiefs as he endorsed a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill known as the "First Step Act." Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 14 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump on Wednesday endorsed a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill that would ease certain mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
Trump praised Republican and Democratic lawmakers for working together on the bill known as the "First Step Act" which he said provides "reasonable sentencing reforms while keeping dangerous and violent criminals off our streets," during an event at the White House.
"These members have reached a bipartisan agreement ... on prison reform legislation. Today I'm thrilled to announce my support," Trump said. "I urge lawmakers in both House and Senate to work hard and to act quickly and send a final bill to my desk and I look very much forward to signing it."
He further said the bill was an example that "true bipartisanship is possible and maybe it will be thriving."
"When Republicans and Democrats talk, debate and seek common ground we can achieve breakthroughs that move our country forward and deliver for our citizens," he said.
The measure adds four provisions to a version of the bill that passed through the House in May that would provide $50 million annually to the Bureau of Prisons for the next five years to provide prison programs including education, drug treatment and job skills training in hopes of reducing recidivism.
The provisions include reducing the "three-strikes" penalty from a life sentence to 25 years in prison, reducing minimum sentences after one prior conviction from 20 years to 15 years and reducing mandatory minimum sentences that go into effect when a firearm is used during a violent crime or drug offense. None of these provisions would go into effect retroactively.
It would also retroactively apply the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, reducing the disparity in sentencing guidelines between crack and powder cocaine offenses.
"Their backing has ensured that this legislation remains tough on crime. It's got to remain very tough on crime and supports the tremendous work of our police," he said.
The bill has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, the world's largest group of sworn law enforcement officials, who attended the Wednesday event.
Trump said the administration has worked closely with law enforcement while composing the bill.
Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, will seek to gather votes to pass the bill through the Senate.
If passed, the bill would return to the House before being sent to Trump's desk due to the new provisions.