Tom Cotton, the ambitious senator from Arkansas, has developed somewhat of a streak of opposing legislation President Trump supports, using his power to block a border tax plan Paul Ryan was pushing, as well as early iterations of Obamacare repeal.
His latest target is a criminal justice reform bill that the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been personally working on.
The bill eases some sentencing guidelines for federal crimes and supports anti-recidivism programs. Cotton opposes it for what he sees as potential bad optics if someone released from prison under the more lenient sentencing terms goes on to commit a serious crime. Call it the Willie Horton effect.
“We shouldn’t release serious and repeat-violence felons, which is what the bill will do. It will be bad for anyone who votes for it,” Cotton told Politico. Party strategists, he added, “think this bill will be as toxic as immigration. Or more so. You’re not going to be insulated from it” just because Trump supports it.
Flying in the face of Cotton’s opposition to the bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that he will bring it to the floor. Cotton promises to block the bill unless he gets votes on amendments, possibly betting that he could weigh the bill down with unpopular riders and kill it entirely.
“If Democrats and the Republicans that support this bill are too scared to vote on these amendments, maybe they should think twice about bringing up such a dangerous bill in the first place,” he told Politico.
Asked if Cotton had a real hope of stopping the bill, Trump golf buddy and ally Sen. Lindsey Graham said: “Uh, no.”