Dec 19, 2018

Durbin, Klobuchar applaud Senate passage of criminal justice reform

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.

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Joe Biden. Photo: Scott Olson / Staff

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Michael Atkinson, inspector general of the intelligence community. Photo: Bill Clark / Getty Images

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Axios Visuals

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,097,909 — Total deaths: 59,131 — Total recoveries: 226,106Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 277,828 — Total deaths: 7,406 — Total recoveries: 9,772Map.
  3. Public health latest: The CDC is recommending Americans wear face coverings in public to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The federal government will cover the costs of COVID-19 treatment for the uninsured, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.
  4. 2020 latest: "I think a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting," President Trump said of the 2020 election, as more states hold primary elections by mail. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said Friday that every county in the state opted to expand mail-in voting for the state's June 2 primary.
  5. Business updates: America's small business bailout is off to a bad start. The DOT is urging airlines to refund passengers due to canceled or rescheduled flights, but won't take action against airlines that provide vouchers or credits.
  6. Oil latest: The amount of gas American drivers are consuming dropped to levels not seen in more than 25 years, government data shows. Trump is calling on the Energy Department to find more places to store oil.
  7. Tech updates: Twitter will allow ads containing references to the coronavirus under certain use cases.
  8. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Senators call for independent investigation into firing of Navy captain.
  9. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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