Nov 14, 2018

Trump endorses Senate bipartisan criminal justice reform bill

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump announced his support for the bipartisan criminal justice reform bill in the Senate Wednesday, urging members of Congress to pass the bill and saying he "looks forward to signing it."

Why it matters: Trump's endorsement is a promising sign for reform advocates like Jared Kushner, Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, who have been pushing to get a bill passed in the Senate for the past several months. The Senate version of the bill would lower certain mandatory minimum sentences and allow some prisoners to go home early.

  • Support for the bill from large law enforcement groups over the weekend and earlier this week has been key to moving the bill forward, as Trump noted during the announcement.
  • A slimmer version of the bill sponsored by Reps. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), which did not include reforms to federal sentencing guidelines, passed the house with strong bipartisan support in May. The addition of sentencing reforms in the Senate has stoked opposition from some hardliners such as Sen. Tom Cotton.

What's next: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he will gauge support for the bill and bring it to the floor if it's likely to win enough votes. The timing is still unclear.

"We don’t have a whole lot of time left, but the first step is to finalize what proponents are actually for... And then we’ll whip it, see where the vote count is, and then see how it stacks up against our other priorities going into the end of the session."
— McConnell told reporters on Wednesday.

What to watch: Some conservative opponents of the bill are likely to highlight provisions that would allow certain sex offenders to earn time off of their sentences, according to one person closely involved in the process.

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RNC expands convention search across the Sun Belt

Donald Trump, Mike Pence and their families on the last night of the Republican National Convention in Ohio in 2016. Photo: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images.

The Republican National Committee is planning site visits over the next 10 days to more than a half-dozen cities — across the South and into Texas and Arizona — as it scrambles for a new convention host, people familiar with the internal discussions tell Axios.

Driving the news: The RNC's executive committee voted Wednesday night to allow most of the convention to move — with only a smaller, official portion remaining in Charlotte — after North Carolina's governor said the coronavirus pandemic would mean a scaled-back event with social distancing and face coverings.

Oil faces tough road back from coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Oil companies in the battered shale patch are starting to bring back some production as prices climb, but a new report underscores how the pandemic is taking a heavy financial toll despite signs of revival.

Driving the news: Fourteen North American producers have filed for bankruptcy thus far during the second quarter, per a tally from the law firm Haynes and Boone, which closely tracks the sector's finances.

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Hong Kong legislature bans insults to Chinese national anthem

Activists holding a candlelit remembrance outside Victoria Park in Hong Kong on June 4, 2020, to mark the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kong’s legislature approved a bill Thursday that makes insulting the "March of the Volunteers," the Chinese national anthem, illegal, AP reports.

Why it matters: It did so on the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, when Chinese troops opened fire on pro-democracy activists in 1989. The death toll has never been released, but estimates vary between hundreds and thousands.