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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."

Go deeper

Complaint to FTC: Amazon search results full of potentially deceiving ads

Photo: Nigel Kirby/Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Amazon does not sufficiently distinguish between its search results and paid ads, potentially "deceiving millions of consumers," according to a complaint filed to the Federal Trade Commission.

Why it matters: Joan Moriarty, research director for the Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition of labor unions that filed the complaint, told the Washington Post the group is "very hopeful" that the FTC will investigate the complaint because Lina Khan (D), a known Amazon critic, is now chair.

3 hours ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils "Building a Better America" branding

President Biden speaks on infrastructure while visiting a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., last month. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package.

Why it matters: The White House says passage of the new law shows the ability to "forge bipartisan consensus and prove our democracy can deliver big wins" even in these toxic times.

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