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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.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology

Scoop: Google is investigating the actions of another top AI ethicist

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo by Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is investigating recent actions by Margaret Mitchell, who helps lead the company's ethical AI team, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The probe follows the forced exit of Timnit Gebru, a prominent researcher also on the AI ethics team at Google whose ouster ignited a firestorm among Google employees.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."

Justice Department drops insider trading inquiry against Sen. Richard Burr

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) walking through the Senate Subway in the U.S. Capitol in December 2020. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Department of Justice told Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Tuesday that it will not move forward with insider trading charges against him.

Why it matters: The decision, first reported by the New York Times, effectively ends the DOJ's investigation into the senator's stock sell-off that occurred after multiple lawmakers were briefed about the coronavirus' potential economic toll. Burr subsequently stepped down as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.