Key Vote Alert on the Cotton-Kennedy Amendment to the First Step Act

As noted on our key vote alert for the First Step Act, FreedomWorks reserved the right to score any related votes including amendments. Accordingly, we will be scoring on our 2018 Congressional Scorecard vote(s) on the Cotton-Kennedy amendment to the legislation, which includes three divisions of deceitfully crafted poison pills each intended to harm the legislation and upset the supermajority support for criminal justice reform in the Senate.

The Cotton-Kennedy amendment is separated into three divisions. Should there be a motion or motions to table this amendment or individual divisions, FreedomWorks will score YES votes. Should there be votes on the amendment itself or individual divisions themselves, FreedomWorks will score NO votes.

As suggested, each division of the Cotton-Kennedy amendment is carefully constructed to appear reasonable but in actuality undermines the legislation — in some divisions more clearly than in others. FreedomWorks’ reasons for strong opposition of each are outlined in the attached document.

It is evident, as both Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and John Kennedy (R-La). voted no on cloture for the legislation last night, that these senators have not offered their amendment in good faith with the intention of improving the bill. If they ever intended to support the First Step Act should divisions of their amendment be added to the legislation, they would have voted in favor of opening debate on the legislation that allows for the consideration of their amendment.

Their amendment, crafted to deceive members and harm the progress of justice reform, should be strongly opposed by anybody and everybody who wishes to enact long-overdue meaningful reforms to the federal justice system and who takes seriously the words of the Constitution.