Donald Trump Pushes Senate to Make Time to Take Up Criminal Justice Deal

Predicts he will ‘have a talk’ with the Senate majority leader once vote count is known

President Donald Trump is threatening to charge major tariffs against Chinese products if a final trade pact isn’t reached. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)
President Donald Trump is threatening to charge major tariffs against Chinese products if a final trade pact isn’t reached. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)
Posted November 26, 2018 at 11:45pm

Between campaign rallies Monday, President Donald Trump was pressing the Senate to act on a bipartisan and long-awaited criminal justice bill.

And going beyond endorsing the legislation, Trump seemed to take ownership of the effort to get it across the finish line before the end of the current Congress.

Trump told reporters traveling with him during a campaign-style trip to Mississippi that he does not need “leverage” over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell when it comes to securing floor time for a criminal justice overhaul.

“We’re talking to him and we’re doing a count. We want to make sure that we have the votes because we don’t want to bring it if we don’t have the votes, but another thing we’re looking at right now is that we have more than enough. So at a certain point, we’ll have a talk,” Trump said of himself and the Republican from Kentucky. “But we have the votes and I’m sure that we’ll be voting soon.”

Trump was in Mississippi to campaign for appointed incumbent Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who faces a Tuesday run-off in her bid to keep the seat in Republican hands.

The bill has broad support in the Senate, but the agreement’s critics could consume floor time that only becomes more valuable the later the lame-duck session of Congress rolls along.

Earlier Monday, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas again said that the criminal justice measure is one of several seeking floor time before time expires on 2018.

Asked specifically if the Senate should not leave for Christmas until passing the legislation, which has been championed by a bipartisan cadre of lawmakers as well as Trump son-in-law and presidential adviser Jared Kushner, the president somewhat demurred.

“Well we’ll see what happens. I think I think we’re going to have a vote and I think we should do it now rather than later,” Trump said. “This is something that could also pass later, but we have such a good group of people right now, and such great support, I think we’re better off doing it now. Let’s take the victory for everybody.”

The official portion of Trump’s trip to Mississippi was for a round table to highlight the criminal justice efforts which according to the White House attracted representatives from local law enforcement as well as elected officials including the state’s two senators and Gov. Phil Bryant, as well as South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham.

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