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Mitch McConnell: criminal justice reform is a distraction from doing nothing


Here’s a a lesson in how and how not to describe a marijuana decriminalization bill passing on a mostly party-line vote. First, the Post:

Friday’s vote, however, was largely along party lines, with Democrats voting overwhelmingly to support the federal decriminalization bill and all but five Republicans broadly opposing it.

Here’s the Times:

The House on Friday passed sweeping legislation that would decriminalize marijuana and expunge nonviolent marijuana-related convictions, as Democrats sought to roll back and compensate for decades of drug policies that have disproportionately affected low-income communities of color.

The 228-164 vote to approve the measure was bipartisan, and it was the first time either a chamber of Congress had ever endorsed the legalization of cannabis. The bill would remove the drug from the Controlled Substances Act and authorize a 5 percent tax on marijuana that would fund community and small business grant programs to help those most impacted by the criminalization of marijuana.

You would have to keep going until the 14th graf to discover that the number of Republicans who voted for the measure was “5.”

Also not included in the Times story about this “bipartisan” vote were the derisive comments of the Republican leadership:

Top Republicans — including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — made derisive public comments about the bill this week, painting the measure as a frivolous diversion from the task of funding the federal government and delivering a new round of emergency coronavirus aid to Americans.

One headline from McConnell: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) decides to “puff, puff, pass” on emergency coronavirus relief.

“It’s just unbelievable how tone-deaf they are to these small businesses and the jobs, the families that are tied to them,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said in a Fox News Channel interview Thursday, slamming Democratic leaders for holding the vote.

FUN FACT: House Democrats passed a comprehensive COVID relief bill in May. Senate Republicans have passed absolutely nothing, and their leadership’s latest proposal is a farcical “let them eat corporate immunity” bill. Clearly, this is because the Republican conference has been distracted by bill representing the majority of the American public that passed on December 4.

…this is an important point. A critical reason for Republican opposition is that the House bill expunges past federal convictions:

The Times article also does do a better job of giving a voice to supporters of the bill, and this is a great quote:

“Marijuana use is either socially acceptable behavior or it’s criminal conduct,” said Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York. “But it can’t be socially acceptable behavior in some neighborhoods and criminal conduct in other neighborhoods when the dividing line is race.”

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