Tag Archives: Sen. Tom Cotton

Sen. Cotton Lobbying Hawks to Vote Against Bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform Bill

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) is recruiting tough-on-crime hawks in the Senate in an effort to block the passage of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill supported by an unlikely tag-team of conservatives and progressives ranging from the Koch brothers and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on the right to President Obama and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on the left.

Among other criminal justice reforms, the bill would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for certain non-violent crimes and give courts and prosecutors more flexibility in reconsidering previously-applied minimum sentences.

[RELATED: Obama Praises Rand Paul, Koch Brothers in NAACP Criminal Justice Reform Speech]

Freshman Senator Cotton has positioned himself as a national security and foreign policy hawk, and, according to Politico, he is actively rallying Republicans to turn against the bill.

It would be very dangerous and unwise to proceed with the Senate Judiciary bill, which would lead to the release of thousands of violent felons. I think it’s no surprise that Republicans are divided on this question … [but] I don’t think any Republicans want legislation that is going to let out violent felons, which this bill would do,” said Cotton.

Responding to Cotton’s claim that the bill would lead to the release of violent felons, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said, “It’s not true. I’d say, please read the bill and listen to people like [former Attorney General] Michael Mukasey, who makes the point, which is a critical point, that there’s no get-out-of-jail-free card.

The bill’s supporters say that inmates can only be released early under the bill if the judge and prosecutor that originally handled the case agree with the sentencing reduction.

Cotton’s anti-reform coalition has reportedly attracted the support of Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho). Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who once supported criminal justice reform, also recently questioned whether violent criminals might slip out of prison if the bill passes.

[RELATED: Koch Industries Attorney Criticizes Ted Cruz for Opposing Sentencing Reform Bill]

MSNBC’s Steve Benen wrote, “There’s a real possibility that the votes would exist to pass the bill anyway, despite Cotton and his faction, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is unlikely to move forward on a high-profile bill that’s dividing his conference, and the more right-wing members balk, the less likely it is the GOP-led House will approve the bipartisan compromise.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last week, “Members of the Judiciary Committee have been deeply involved on that issue, the rest of us have not. So we’re going to be working through the process of bringing everybody in the Republican Conference up to speed on this very important issue, and we’re going to do that before any decision is made about floor time.

McConnell’s comments seem to suggest that he may delay bringing the bill to a vote until tensions calm among Senate Republicans.

In an interview on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a criminal justice reform supporter, said of Cotton’s goal line stand against the bill, “You know, I think he’s making a mistake here because I think the country is moving in the other direction. A lot of us believe in second chances. You know, when I saw Peyton Manning giving the ball to Demaryius Thomas and saying this is for your mom, I had a great deal of sympathy for his mom. She’s been in jail for 15 years for a non-violent crime. That doesn’t mean what she doing was correct or right, but the thing is is fifteen years is a long time for a non-violent crime. His grandmother is in jail for two life sentences, forty years a piece, the minimum she can get out is forty years — for dealing drugs, and yet you can shoot somebody in Kentucky and be eligible for parole in twelve years.

The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 is widely seen as President Obama’s last major initiative that currently has enough bipartisan support to potentially pass in 2016.

Video Shows Sen. Cotton Confronted By Father Of Deceased Veteran

Washington, D.C.- During a lengthy discussion about foreign policy on Friday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) was confronted by Fred Boenig, a Pennsylvania man who described himself as a gold star dad before calling Cotton “the biggest hawk in Washington” and asking when combat in the Middle East will end.

The exchange began when Cotton asked Boenig about the 4 lapel pins he was wearing. “I’m a gold star dad and I have three more kids currently serving,” Boenig answered.

Boenig then said, “And I would consider you probably the biggest hawk in Washington, maybe Lindsey Graham, right? I mean, you’d admit that, right?”

As the attendees broke into laughter, Cotton responded that he believes in “strength in confidence,” a term that Boenig said reminds him of “someone knocking on my door again.” Boenig’s son died in Afghanistan in 2010.

Boenig asked Cotton to tell him how many days have passed since the last U.S. military combat zone death. Cotton did not give a direct answer.

Boenig, who told Cotton that the answer is 58 days, went on to ask “When do we get to hang the ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner, and when do I get my kids to come home safe again? That’s the only thing that matters to me.”

Cotton said that there is “no definitive answer because our enemies get a vote in this process. I’m deeply sorrowful for your loss and I greatly honor the service that all of your children have rendered like all of our veterans do, but in the end I think the best way to honor our veterans-“

“Is to have more killed?” Boenig interrupted.

“Is to win the wars in which they fought,” Cotton said.

Boenig went on to challenge Cotton about combat in Iraq and Iran as a means to prevent terror attacks in the United States, and noted that Cotton met with defense contractors the day after he wrote a letter to Iranian leaders warning that a nuclear deal with President Barack Obama could be revoked after Obama left office.

Watch the debate between Boenig and Cotton below: