Aug 24, 2018

McConnell commits to moving forward on criminal justice bill after midterms

Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has agreed to a whip vote for the prison and sentencing reform bill after midterms, his spokesperson confirmed to Axios. Sen. McConnell made the commitment in a meeting with Jared Kushner and Sens. Chuck Grassley, John Cornyn and Mike Lee.

What to watch: Although Sen. McConnell’s spokesperson said a commitment to a vote had not been made, a source familiar told Axios the Majority Leader came just shy of promising a vote. Sen. Lee’s spokesperson Conn Carroll told Axios that Sen. McConnell had committed to a vote if the whip count reached more than 60.

While President Trump said earlier today he will not endorse the bill before the midterms, he has privately expressed openness to the compromise currently being negotiated, according to a senior administration official and Sen. Lee. The bill includes reductions of sentences for certain low-level crimes.

  • Trump's support will be key to uniting Republicans and getting the bill passed, although it will likely face tough opposition from Sen. Tom Cotton and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who oppose any efforts to reduce sentences.

However, Sen. Lee told Axios he's confident the bill will have enough support to merit a vote, and that it could easily pass. Although he wishes the vote would happen sooner, "today’s events are a victory because we now have a high degree of confidence that we’ll have vote between now and the end of the year," he said.

What they're saying: The White House explained in a statement "the President remains committed to meaningful prison reform and will continue working with the Senate on their proposed additions to the bill."

  • A spokesperson for Sen. McConnell told Axios there will be no vote before the upcoming elections, and no commitments have been made for a vote after midterms, "but proponents of the legislation will continue to discuss the issue with their colleagues, followed by a whip count after the October session to accurately assess the Conference’s view on the issue."
  • Grassley released a statement, saying "I’m very encouraged by the leadership shown today by President Trump to make prison and sentencing reform a priority soon after the election and Leader McConnell’s openness to bring it up this year. And I’m confident with the President’s continued backing, we’ll have more than enough votes to pass a bill overwhelmingly."

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 691,867 — Total deaths: 32,988 — Total recoveries: 146,613.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 125,433 — Total deaths: 2,201 — Total recoveries: 2,612.
  3. Federal government latest: The first federal prisoner to die from coronavirus was reported from a correctional facility in Louisiana on Sunday.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "really panicked" people
  6. World updates: Italy reported 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reported almost 840 dead, another new daily record, bringing its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Cuomo: Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "really panicked people"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference Sunday that President Donald Trump's unexpected Saturday announcement of a possible "short-term" quarantine of New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut to curb the spread of the coronavirus "really panicked people."

Why it matters: Though Trump ruled out the mandatory quarantine later that day, Cuomo said people still called "all night long" asking about the comments and many likely fled the New York area — possibly spreading the virus further.

U.S. coronavirus updates: Fauci suggests death toll could top 100,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CNN Sunday that models suggest COVID-19 will infect millions of Americans and could kill 100,000–200,000, though he stressed that the projections are "such a moving target."

The big picture: With more than 121,000 people infected, the U.S. has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, exceeding China and Italy, per data from Johns Hopkins. A second wave of American cities, including Boston, Detroit, New Orleans and Philadelphia, reported influxes of cases on Saturday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health