Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, has thanked Pres. Trump for signing an executive order that will promote better management of America's forests and other federal lands.
The executive order, which the president signed on Friday, requires the Department of Interior (DOI) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reduce regulatory barriers to better forest management and to review their budgets and find room to fund forest cleanup projects.
"This is a very big win for Idaho and the West," said Labrador. "The West was devastated by terrible wildfires this year, and the federal government needs to do more to prevent these types of fires in the future. Better forest management is the key. I've championed several bills in Congress to prioritize better management, only to see the Senate fail to act. I appreciate the president for going the extra mile to promote healthier forests and to make our communities in the West safer."
Labrador, a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, is an original co-sponsor of H.R. 2936, the Resilient Federal Forests Act. This landmark bill, which the House passed in November 2017, would improve forest health, combat catastrophic wildfires and restore sensible multiple-use management. The Senate, however, failed to consider it.
The President's Executive Order empowers DOI and USDA to treat 4.25 million federal acres to cut fuel loads. Additionally, it permits a total of 4.4 billion board feet of timber to be harvested from Forest Service- and Interior-managed lands in 2019. To read the President's Executive Order, click here.
Historic criminal justice reform bill. Rep. Labrador voted for S. 3649, the First Step Act, last week. This bipartisan bill, which passed the House, enacts the most significant reforms to America’s criminal justice system in a generation. Specifically, it relaxes mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent offenders when a judge finds that a lesser sentence is justified. Additionally, it increases the ability of inmates to earn “good time” credits, allowing well-behaved inmates to cut their prison sentences, while also increasing their ability to receive “earned time credits,” giving them more opportunities to participate in vocational and rehabilitative programs. President Trump has praised the legislation and is expected to sign it.
“This is one of my proudest moments in Congress,” said Labrador. “I’ve been working on this issue since I was first elected eight years ago, and it’s rewarding to see our hard work finally pay off. The First Step Act will improve America’s justice system by allowing it to focus on the most violent offenders, while reducing sentences for those worthy of a second chance. It’s a smart, common-sense bill, and it’s been gratifying to work with so many groups – representing the whole political spectrum – who championed the cause of sentencing reform and made today possible.”
Labrador began working on criminal justice reform upon taking office in 2011. After joining the House Judiciary Committee in 2013, he and Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-Va.) introduced the Smarter Sentencing Act, which garnered 55 cosponsors from both parties. The Smarter Sentencing Act was House companion legislation to S. 1410, introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).
In 2013 and 2014, Labrador spent 18 months on the Judiciary Committee’s Over-Criminalization Task Force, led by former Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis. During that time, the Task Force conducted 10 hearings and collected proven examples of state reforms that protect public safety while containing incarceration costs.
In the 114th Congress, the Smarter Sentencing Act was reintroduced. To build support for the bill, Labrador worked with a wide array of supporters including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the American Bar Association, and the Coalition for Public Safety. In 2015, Labrador went to the White House to discuss the issue with President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder. That same year, Labrador championed the issue at a forum at Howard University, where he joined other reform proponents, including Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.
Labrador was the lead Republican co-sponsor of the Sentencing Reform Act of 2015, which included provisions from the Smarter Sentencing Act and won House Judiciary Committee approval.
Critical parts of the Sentencing Reform Act and the Smarter Sentencing Act were included in the First Step Act, the bill that passed the House today. These include enhancing penalties for violent criminals, while reducing mandatory minimum sentences for lesser offenders when a judge finds a lesser sentence justified and expanding the existing sentencing "safety valve" when a judge finds the offender has fully cooperated with law enforcement and has a lesser risk of committing future crimes. The bill also allows retroactive application of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, a provision in the original 2013 and 2015 bills co-authored by Labrador. To learn more about S. 3649, the First Step Act, please click here