A major criminal-justice overhaul bill seemed destined to be the bipartisan success story of the year, consensus legislation that showed lawmakers could still rise above politics and take on a serious societal problem.
Then the election got in the way. With Donald J. Trump demanding “law and order” and Senate Republicans divided on the wisdom of reducing federal mandatory minimum sentences, the effort that began with real promise stalled, and now its Senate authors acknowledge there is virtually no chance for action on the measure this year.
“I do believe it is over,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No .2 Democrat in the Senate, who put considerable effort into difficult negotiations with Republicans to strike a compromise. “We missed an opportunity.”
What remains is a stunning display of dysfunction given the powerful forces arrayed behind legislation meant to provide a second chance for nonviolent offenders facing long prison sentences while also saving tax dollars on prison costs.