Press Releases

Senate Judiciary Committee Advances Bill on Criminal Justice Reform

Oct 23, 2015

WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee today passed the bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act in a vote of 15-5. The bill grants judges greater sentencing flexibility for certain low-level drug offenders and establishes recidivism reduction programs, while targeting violent criminals.
 
Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is an original cosponsor of the legislation. Below are his remarks from today’s markup, as prepared for delivery, and a video of Lee correcting misconceptions about the bill can be viewed here.
 
“Since my time as a prosecutor, I have been concerned by the excesses of our federal criminal justice system.  In many cases where there is no evidence of actual violence, the long sentences required by federal mandatory minimums are unjust. That’s why, more than two years ago now, Senator Durbin and I first introduced the Smarter Sentencing Act. I believe we can make sentencing more fair and efficient without reducing public safety.  The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act achieves that goal by reducing the most severe penalties that often lead to disproportionate outcomes, by expanding the availability of safety valve relief, and by increasing opportunities and incentives for rehabilitative programming in federal prison.
“Our criminal justice system has to be flexible enough to apply in many different situations. Prosecutors and judges must have the ability to impose lengthy sentences on serious offenders who pose the greatest threat to public safety, just as they must have the ability to impose modest sentences on those who violate our laws but do not pose an ongoing threat to public safety. So this bill leaves untouched the maximum penalty levels that exist under current law, and for some offenders, it increases those punishments.  It also does not eliminate any mandatory minimum sentences but instead takes a targeted approach, reducing the harshest mandatory penalties and providing limited relief for low-level offenders with limited criminal history.
 
"It is not just to keep people in jail until they are 70 or 80 just because they sold drugs or had a gun. Unfortunately, this is precisely the situation we have created with many of our lengthy mandatory prison sentences, as you who have heard me tell about Weldon Angelos well know.  Sentences like these are just too high: they impose real costs, both human and financial; they are out of step with American tradition; and they have to be fixed.  It’s not sufficient anymore to say that sentences like these – sentences that don’t fit the crime – are the cost of doing business.  They aren’t – we can fix them, and this bill does.”
 
The bill narrows the scope of mandatory minimum prison sentences to focus on the most serious drug offenders and violent criminals, while broadening and establishing new outlets for individuals with minimal non-felony criminal histories that may trigger mandatory minimum sentences under current law.  The bill also reduces certain mandatory minimums, providing judges with greater discretion when determining appropriate sentences, and preserves cooperation incentives to aid law enforcement in tracking down kingpins.
                                     
In addition to reducing prison terms for certain offenders through sentencing reform, qualifying inmates can earn reduced sentences through recidivism reduction programs outlined in the CORRECTIONS Act introduced by Cornyn and Whitehouse. The bill also makes retroactive the Fair Sentencing Act and certain statutory reforms that address inequities in drug sentences.
 
The bill is the product of a thoughtful bipartisan deliberation. In addition to Senator Lee, original cosponsors include Senators Grassley (R-IA), Durbin (D-IL), Cornyn (R-TX), Whitehouse (D-RI), Schumer (D-NY), Graham (R-SC), Leahy (D-VT), Booker (D-NJ), and Scott (R-SC).  Other cosponsors include Senators Tillis (R-NC), Coons (D-DE), Moran (R-Kan.), Feinstein (D-Cal.), Flake (R-AZ.), Blumenthal (D-CT), Franken (D-MN), and Klobuchar (D-MN).

Lee, Cruz, And Rubio Issue Joint Statement on House Reconciliation Bill

Oct 22, 2015

WASHINGTON – Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement Thursday in anticipation of Friday’s House vote on H.R. 3762:

“On Friday the House of Representatives is set to vote on a reconciliation bill that repeals only parts of Obamacare. This simply isn’t good enough. Each of us campaigned on a promise to fully repeal Obamacare and a reconciliation bill is the best way to send such legislation to President Obama’s desk. If this bill cannot be amended so that it fully repeals Obamacare pursuant to Senate rules, we cannot support this bill. With millions of Americans now getting health premium increase notices in the mail, we owe our constituents nothing less.”

Lee Battles Big Egg In Defense of Little Mayo

Oct 20, 2015

WASHINGTON – Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today calling for an investigation into the America Egg Board and their alleged anti-competitive campaign against Hampton Creek’s “Just Mayo” vegan mayonnaise.

Lee, Klobuchar Announce Hearing On Proposed SABMiller Acquisition by Anheuser-Busch Inbev

Oct 20, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC— Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, today announced the committee will hold a hearing on Anheuser-Busch Inbev’s proposal to purchase SABMiller for over $103 billion. The hearing will examine how the proposed merger of the world’s two biggest beer producers would impact competition and consumers across the country.

Lee and Klobuchar Statement on SABMiller Acquisition by Anheuser-Busch Inbev

Oct 14, 2015

WASHINGTON—Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, issued the following statements today regarding Anheuser-Busch Inbev’s proposal to purchase SABMiller for over $103 billion.
 
“The proposed acquisition of SABMiller by Anheuser-Busch Inbev announced today, if consummated, would rank among the five largest mergers in history and consolidate approximately 70 percent of the U.S. beer market,” Lee said. "A deal of this size and scope demands close scrutiny of its impact on competition. In addition to the thorough review I expect this deal to receive from the agencies, should the parties reach a final agreement, the Antitrust Subcommittee will also be looking closely into how the merger may affect consumers and the marketplace.”
 
“The U.S. beer market is a $100 billion a year industry and Anheuser-Busch Inbev’s proposed acquisition of SABMiller raises important antitrust concerns,” Klobuchar said. “The merger could have negative consequences for consumers, including increased cost, and could deprive our thriving craft and independent brewers of distribution channels critical for reaching retail customers. The Antitrust Subcommittee must provide oversight and examine this deal closely.”

Senator Lee Responds to Suspension of Syrian Rebels Training Program

Oct 9, 2015

Lee, a member of the Senate Armed Serviced Committee (SASC), has been critical of this program since its inception and has closely monitored its implementation and results over the past year.

Lee Holds Hearing On SMARTER Act

Oct 7, 2015

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) chaired a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights hearing today, examining the impact on the Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules Act, or the SMARTER Act.

Lee, Manchin, Murphy, Udall Call for an End to the Failed Syria Train and Equip Program

Oct 2, 2015

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Tom Udall (D-NM) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Ash Carter, U.S. Department of State Secretary John Kerry and Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan urging them to end the Syria Train and Equip Program – an unsuccessful effort to train and equip Syrian opposition fighters – which has endangered Americans and further escalated conflict in the region.

Senators Introduce Landmark Bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015

Oct 1, 2015

WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of senators led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin today is introducing comprehensive legislation aimed at recalibrating prison sentences for certain drug offenders, targeting violent criminals, and granting judges greater discretion at sentencing for lower-level drug crimes.

Lee, Grassley, Hatch Introduce FTC Reform Bill

Sep 30, 2015

Today, Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules Act (SMARTER Act). This legislation reforms and modernizes the application of our antitrust laws by harmonizing the rules governing how the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) review proposed mergers and acquisitions.