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Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). Photo: Chuck Kennedy/Axios

"Last night's coalition, I’ve never seen anything like this," Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said about last night's landslide vote on the criminal justice reform bill during an event for Axios.

Why it matters: In an era of hyper partisanship, after decades of bipartisan efforts to launch a war on drugs, a bill lowering mandatory minimum sentences and providing avenues for prisoners to reduce their sentences has passed the Senate and will likely become law. "There was just a feeling in the chamber that we’ve had in the past, but haven’t had in a long time," Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) told Axios' Mike Allen.

Key quotes: "If you believe in human beings, the most beautiful thing possible just happened and I hope people can see that and I hope people can celebrate that," Van Jones, co-founder of Cut50 and a CNN show host told Axios.

  • "I think we are now changing the national conversation when it comes to the issues involving the drug war [and] incarceration," Durbin said. "The conversation is changing."

The Trump effect: "I'm going to piss off my liberal friends, but you know what made a difference? Donald J. Trump finally said enough is enough," Jones said. Durbin also gave credit to Jared Kushner for his passion on the issue.

The future of bipartisanship: "What the best part of the night for me was that it wasn’t Democrats fighting [Sen.] Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) [who was trying to sink the bill] over amendments, it was [Sen.] Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) going up there able to fight them down," Klobuchar said.

  • Durbin said that while the bipartisanship shown on this issue might not be a template for everything, it can be a model for certain issues such as infrastructure.

What's next: Mark Holden, the senior vice president of Koch Industries who has worked on criminal justice reform, said he's hopeful for a "second step act" that would address issues such as bail reform, asset forfeiture, prosecutorial reform and ensuring the right to lawyers. Jones said they hope to soon cut the U.S. prison population in half.

Go deeper

Omicron cases confirmed in 3 U.S. states

A healthcare worker inserts a Covid-19 rapid test into a machine in Denver, Colorado. Photo: Daniel Brenner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The third confirmed U.S. case of the newly-discovered Omicron variant was detected in a Colorado resident, state health officials said Thursday.

The latest: In addition to Colorado, the variant has been confirmed in California, and Minnesota.

Early winter heat shatters records in U.S., Canada

Temperature departures from average on Dec. 2, 2021, as depicted by the GFS computer model. (Weatherbell.com)

A widespread and intense heatwave is roasting large portions of the U.S. and Canada, shattering daily and monthly temperature records.

Why it matters: Winter is the fastest-warming season across the U.S., and the lingering warmth is shortening the snow season in places like Colorado and Montana, where mountain snowpack is a critical source of water during the summer months.

4 hours ago - Science

COVID time warp

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The start of the COVID-19 pandemic seems like a lifetime ago to some, and just yesterday to others. Scientists are beginning to unpack the way people processed the passage of time amidst the stress, uncertainty and isolation of the 1 year, 8 months and 21 days since WHO declared a pandemic.

Why it matters: The pandemic's global effects on how people experience time could provide new insights into the brain's ability to perceive and predict time — a fundamental feature of life.