Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reportedly killed any hope that Congress would pass a promising bipartisan criminal justice reform bill before the end of the year, according to The New York Times.
One day after President Donald Trump publicly supported the First Step Act and called for Congress to get a bill on his desk, McConnell reportedly told Trump that the clock will run out on the bill.
From the Times:
"Senator Mitch McConnell told President Trump in a private meeting on Thursday that there is not likely to be enough time to bring a bipartisan criminal justice bill up for a vote this year, regardless of the support it has in the Senate and the White House, according to people familiar with the meeting."
The Senate was the only piece of the puzzle seriously in doubt for the bill. In addition to Trump's support, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) said he was committed to getting the bill to the floor "this term."
McConnell, however, had been more measured in recent days. He isn't weighing in on the content of the bill itself, and said Wednesday he needed to see that the bill had 60 Senate supporters before moving forward, but even then he implied that other priorities might come before criminal justice reform.
This legislative session ends Dec. 14, and the New York Times reported that the bill could take up 10 days on the Senate floor. Too much time, in McConnell's estimate, with some crucial funding issues and another potential border wall battle on the horizon.
The First Step Act faces an uncertain future if it is pushed into 2019, when Democrats take control of the House of Representatives. Some Democrats believe the bill doesn't go far enough toward reforming the criminal justice system, and could reject it as they push for a stronger bill, resetting progress on the issue to square one.