The U.S. House of Representatives today overwhelmingly passed the First Step Act by a vote of 358-36. The U.S. Senate approved the bill 87-12 this past Tuesday. The bipartisan justice reform bill represents one of the most significant improvements of the federal criminal justice system in a generation. The legislation now heads to President’s desk to be signed into law.
“I’m proud to support to the First Step Act, an important bill that will advance criminal justice reform. I applaud my colleagues, Reps. Jeffries and Jackson Lee, for their steadfast efforts to make this a reality. This bill includes critical changes to our sentencing laws that will reduce the impact of some mandatory minimum sentences, notably with retroactive application of the reduced crack cocaine sentences under the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. The bill’s reauthorization of the Second Chance Act is also a measure that is long overdue. We will continue to work in Congress to oversee the implementation of these reforms as well as the new system to allow some federal prisoners to earn early entry into pre-release custody. There is still more work to be done to ensure our criminal justice system is fair and just for every American. However, this bill is a positive first step,” said House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).
"The First Step Act invests in what Americans value most fiercely—people. We know that lives can be redirected and redeemed, and we're committing to doing that with tools that are proven to work. With the partnership of leaders like Chairman Grassley, Whip Cornyn, Whip Durbin and Senator Perdue across the Capitol and Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Nadler, Congressman Sensenbrenner and Speaker Ryan in the House, we were able to look at the human faces woven into the lines of this bill and vote to help them rebuild their lives. Jared Kushner never lost sight of those faces. His courage to take the political path less traveled has been instrumental in delivering us here today. We have the opportunity to make communities safer and more whole through the First Step Act, and we wouldn't have that without the courage of my friend and valuable partner, Hakeem Jeffries. For 31 years, my father served his neighbors as a Georgia state trooper. Like him, this bill shows us that reverence for human life is fundamental to justice, and I'm thankful that so many of my colleagues stand here united in that same confidence today," Congressman Doug Collins said.
“Passage of the FIRST STEP Act is a victory for all Americans who believe in justice and the power of redemption. This bill will transform lives by providing access to the mental health counseling, education, vocational services and substance abuse treatment needed to help incarcerated individuals get back on their feet and become productive members of society. It also provides retroactive relief for the shameful crack cocaine sentencing disparity that unfairly destroyed lives, families and communities. The FIRST STEP Act is not the end. It’s not even the beginning of the end. It's simply the end of the beginning of a bipartisan journey to eradicate the mass incarceration epidemic in America. Representatives Collins, Richmond, Bass and Nadler, along with those in the Senate and White House should be commended for their commitment and effort in this regard,” Congressman Hakeem Jeffries said.
"We can all agree that America needs criminal justice reform. The First Step Act will help control corrections spending, manage the prison population, reduce recidivism, and ensure our system works more efficiently and justly, while also protecting our citizens from violent criminals. Passage of the First Step Act has truly been a bipartisan and bicameral process, of which I am proud to be a part. Thank you again to Doug Collins for introducing and shepherding this bill through Congress. I also want to thank our Senate counterparts; we are proud to deliver the First Step Act to the President’s desk," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).
“Republicans and Democrats coming together to pass criminal justice reform is a monumental victory for the American people, and I’m proud to have been a leader of this effort that has been years in the making. I’m also proud to note that this bill reauthorizes the Second Chance Act, which has been instrumental in healing communities by helping those who have paid their debts to society to rejoin their families and live a productive life. I thank Chairman Goodlatte, Congressman Collins, and the many others who carried this bill across the finish line,” said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), Chairman of the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.
“I am pleased that our diligent efforts in the House allowed a fruitful yield in the inclusion of sentencing reform to the First Step Act. I am also pleased that my amendment to create an Independent Review Committee that will oversee the implementation of the risk assessment tools and the bill generally, was also included in the final version of this bill. I look forward, in the next Congress, to expanding upon this preliminary progress,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.