Since your office has neglected to make an appointment for us to meet on the matter, I’m compelled to use this open letter to explain why your apparent attempt to sabotage the FIRST STEP Act is so misguided.
It’s become clear that you are using your powers as Senate Majority Leader to slow-roll one of the President’s top legislative priorities: the FIRST STEP Act. This bipartisan legislation has already passed the House with a resounding vote of 360-59. Your refusal to bring the bill forward for a vote in the Senate is all that stands in the way of its passage.
As its name implies, this legislation is the first step toward correcting the injustices under which hundreds of thousands of African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans have suffered since Bill Clinton signedhis disastrous criminal justice reform into law in 1994.
Contrary to the knee-jerk reactions of some conservatives, this is not a “soft-on-crime” bill like others that we’ve seen in the past. FIRST STEP is not about simply reducing sentences, and it certainly isn’t about releasing violent criminals into the streets. FIRST STEP is about reducing crime by addressing the rampant criminal recidivism that plagues our urban communities, plain and simple. It keeps offenders closer to their family and faith-based support networks, and provides them with educational and vocational opportunities.
For sound economic and cultural reasons, our country has always favored offering most nonviolent offenders a second chance in life. The proven solutions contained in the FIRST STEP Act increase the likelihood that former prisoners will use that second chance to become productive citizens, not career criminals.
If a tiny cabal of Republican Senators torpedoes this popular bill, it will be a slap in the face to President Trump’s minority supporters, who already endure constant abuse from the left for our political and policy convictions.
The forgotten communities of America are united behind this bill. As CEO of the National Diversity Coalition (NDC) for Trump and CEO of the Urban Revitalization Coalition (URC), I have been deeply involved in the America First movement from the very beginning. Our members are committed to the success of this administration, and are in close contact with the President on the priorities of blacks, Hispanics, and other minority groups in the Trump coalition.
We have struggled and persevered to get this bill as far as it’s come, just as we did to elect Donald Trump as President. To ignore our efforts now suggests you view the entire NDC and URC as nothing but a mere photo op. Given President Trump’s steadfast support for our priorities and concerns, the failure to advance this legislation would be an affront to his authority and leadership. No one in the Democrat Senate leadership would have treated President Barack Obama’s legislative agenda with such little respect.
If this bill fails, the media will pin the blame not on the Democrats — who failed to deliver on their own promises of criminal justice reform for years — but on the Republicans in the Senate. You and the other opponents of the FIRST STEP Act will have written the script for future Democrat candidates across the country, lending undue credence to their tired and irresponsible accusations of Republicans’ contempt for the concerns of minorities.
Leader McConnell, I will deliver to you today in this letter what I would have said to you in person had you agreed to meet with me: “Get off your butt and get this doggone bill passed.”
Pastor Darrell Scott