DACA, criminal justice are top priorities for the Koch Network this lame duck
WASHINGTON — The Koch Network is launching a multi-million dollar effort to pressure the lame duck Congress to pass their legislative priorities before the end of the year, including criminal justice reform, relief for DACA recipients and free trade.
As the outgoing Congress returns this week for the first time after the midterm elections, the group says its priority is to influence a series of must-pass spending bills, which are likely to get weighed down by a fight over funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall.
The Koch organization is pushing Congress to ensure any funding for a border wall with relief for immigrants who came to the United States as children and were given relief under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Previous efforts between Congress and the president to find a permanent solution for DACA recipients broke down.
They also are putting pressure on Congress to pass the First Step Act, a bill that would incentivize job training for prisoners and help those being released re-enter society. The criminal justice reform bill would also change some sentencing guidelines, including lowering mandatory minimum sentences for people with non-violent drug convictions and also retroactively reducing the crack-cocaine sentencing disparity.
The House passed the First Step Act with an overwhelming majority but the Senate hasn’t yet taken it up.
“We will work aggressively to bring together a divided government to address these critical issues,” said James Davis, a Koch Network spokesman. “It’s a bold, positive vision for what we must do to help people improve their lives.”
The Koch Network, which is a series of non-profits and political organizations that has traditionally supported Republican elected officials, announced at its June semi-annual donor seminar that it is refocusing its efforts, supporting members of Congress that align with their priorities, including on immigration, criminal justice reform and trade.
Their position on these issues often conflict with the Republican Party under Trump who has touted policies and rhetoric that result in closed borders and barriers to trade.
“We see an opportunity to engage the American people to address some of the toughest problems facing our country: a broken criminal justice system, an immigration system that prevents good people from contributing, eliminating cronyism and promoting open trade,” Davis said.
The Koch Network is also putting out a challenge to businesses to hire people coming out of prison and investing in community groups that work with recently released prisoners.