Nov 14, 2018

3. 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.

Go deeper

HBCUs are missing from the discussion on venture capital's diversity

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Venture capital is beginning a belated conversation about its dearth of black investors and support of black founders, but hasn't yet turned its attention to the trivial participation of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as limited partners in funds.

Why it matters: This increases educational and economic inequality, as the vast majority of VC profits go to limited partners.

Unemployment rate falls to 13.3% in May

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 13.3% in May, with 2.5 million jobs gained, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The far better-than-expected numbers show a surprising improvement in the job market, which has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The difficulty of calculating the real unemployment rate

Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Note: Initial traditional state claims from the weeks of May 23 and 30, continuing traditional claims from May 23. Initial PUA claims from May 16, 23, and 30, continuing PUA and other programs from May 16; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The shocking May jobs report — with a decline in the unemployment rate to 13.3% and more than 2 million jobs added — destroyed expectations of a much worse economic picture.

Why it matters: Traditional economic reports have failed to keep up with the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic and have made it nearly impossible for researchers to determine the state of the U.S. labor market or the economy.