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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump privately expressed openness Thursday to reforms of federal sentencing guidelines in order to help a prison reform bill move through the Senate, The Hill first reported.

Why it matters: The earlier momentum behind prison reform stopped abruptly in the Senate, with Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Democrats unwilling to support a bill that didn't address harsh sentencing laws. But this compromise could get most players on board — at the same time Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is looking for bipartisan wins.

What's new: Four pieces of Grassley's bill would be added to the prison reform bill that passed the House, according to sources closely involved, that would:

  1. Reduce the mandatory penalty from life to 25 years for a third conviction of certain drug offenses, and from 25-15 years for a second conviction.
  2. Prohibit the doubling up of mandatory sentences for certain gun and drug offenses.
  3. Give judges more discretion in giving less than the mandatory minimum for certain low-level crimes.
  4. Make the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act retroactive, which changed sentencing guidelines to treat offenses involving crack and powder cocaine equally.

Details: The existing bill incentivizes rehabilitation programs, would send around 4,000 prisoners home and provides incarcerated women sanitary products.

The support: A senior White House official told the Hill that Trump is "positively inclined" toward the compromise proposal. And an official told Axios that Trump will "always be very tough on crime," but also "believes in second chances."

  • Sens. Grassley, Mike Lee and John Cornyn ,as well as several advocates, have told Axios they are encouraged by the latest developments. “We thank President Trump for his leadership to ensure that meaningful criminal justice reform happens this year," said Koch Industries' general counsel Mark Holden.
I think it’s clear now that the president is engaged on this issue and is supportive of a reasonable compromise. With his leadership I think we can get a bipartisan deal done.
— Sen. Grassley to Axios

Advocacy groups who had previously withheld support for the bill, such as the Brennan Center, have been welcoming toward the possibility of compromise. Even The Leadership Conference sees the developments as a possible opportunity for getting sentencing reform done.

What to watch: Now that Grassley and Democrats are likely to get on board, all eyes are on Republicans (hardliners like Sen. Tom Cotton aside) to see if they maintain their support even with sentencing.

  • Cut50 co-founder Jessica Jackson, who's been active on the issue, told Axios they're continuing to work hard "to make sure that both parties are staying healthy on this issue and saying yes where they agree."

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
5 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Key clean power provision likely won't survive in Dems' spending bill

A construction worker walks along a dirt road at the Avangrid Renewables La Joya wind farm in Encino, New Mexico, on Aug. 5, 2020. Photo: Cate Dingley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A pillar of Democrats' plans to speed deployment of zero-carbon electricity is likely to be cut from major spending and tax legislation they are struggling to move on a party-line vote, per multiple reports and a Capitol Hill aide.

Driving the news: The New York Times, citing anonymous congressional aides and lobbyists, reports that West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) has told the White House he "strongly opposes" the Clean Electricity Performance Program.

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Fatal stabbing of British MP David Amess declared a terrorist incident

Police outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, England, on Oct. 15. Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images

Authorities have declared the death of David Amess a terrorist incident, hours after the Conservative Party lawmaker in the U.K. was fatally stabbed while meeting with local constituents in a church in eastern England on Friday.

The big picture: The Metropolitan Police has found "a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism."

Biden: DOJ should prosecute those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas

President Biden speaks with reporters at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that the Justice Department should prosecute those who defy subpoenas from the Jan. 6 select committee.

Why it matters: The president's remarks come one day after Donald Trump ally Steve Bannon failed to show up for a deposition before the committee.