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Sen. Mike Lee. Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Sen. Mike Lee wants to unite a pair of Senate criminal justice reform bills, taking a prison reform effort, adding reductions of certain mandatory minimum sentences and limiting the ability of prosecutors to “stack” multiple mandatory sentences.

Why it matters: Prison reform focused on rehabilitating prisoners through educational programs, vocational training and therapy has gained traction in the House. But Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley won't back down on reforming harsh sentencing guidelines, despite Attorney General Jeff Sessions opposition.

Lee has supported both Sen. Grassley’s more comprehensive bill and Sen. John Cornyn’s prison reform bill. He hopes that by adding these two sentencing pieces from Grassley’s bill, there will be a better chance of getting Cornyn's through the Senate.

Yes, but: One GOP congressional aide told Axios that "adding sentencing reductions to the Cornyn bill would be fatal and guarantee Congress does nothing on criminal justice reform."      

The proposals:

  1. Prohibit prosecutors from "stacking" multiple mandatory sentences for first-time offenders.
  2. Reduce the mandatory penalty for a third conviction of certain drug offenses from life to 25 years, and for a second conviction from 20 to 15 years. These changes would not be retroactive.

Why this time is different: "I think there is a good chance of this happening... Increasingly, it seems like everyone knows someone who has been involved in the criminal justice system. As people become more aware of it... I think it makes reform more likely."

  • Lee told Axios he doesn't see "any good reason for [Sessions] to oppose this... This would represent a substantial compromise from where we have been."
  • On the House bill: "If something like this did happen in the House, it might provide momentum in the Senate."
  • On Kushner: "He's been great. He's been a strong advocate. I've appreciated his leadership and his willingness to call out for reform."

Go deeper

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
4 hours ago - Health

FDA panel endorses shot of J&J booster for adults

Photo: Wolfgang Kumm/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Members of the Food and Drug Administration's vaccine expert panel on Friday unanimously endorsed a booster shot for adult recipients of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at least two months after the initial dose.

Why it matters: The advisory committee raised concerns about a dearth of data to support their decision but ultimately decided to support an additional shot for those over 18.

Capitol Police officer indicted for obstructing Jan. 6 investigation

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6. Photo: Brent Stirton/Getty Images

A U.S. Capitol Police officer has been indicted on obstruction of justice charges for allegedly helping hide evidence of a participant's involvement in the Jan. 6 riot.

Driving the news: Officer Michael A. Riley, 50, is accused of telling the unidentified participant, referred to as "Person 1," in the Jan. 6 riot to delete posts from Facebook, which showed them in the Capitol during the attack.

7 hours ago - World

British MP dies after being stabbed while meeting constituents

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

David Amess, a Conservative Party lawmaker in the U.K., was fatally stabbed Friday while meeting with local constituents in a church in eastern England, according to AP.

The big picture: Police said a man, 25, was arrested for the stabbing in Leigh-on-Sea and is being held on suspicion of murder. A knife was also recovered at the scene, authorities said.