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Senate Sends Criminal Justice Bill to the House
Action comes after years of debate, bipartisan support

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,resisted bringing the criminal justice bill to the floor initially, but he ultimately supported it. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate voted 87-12 to pass an amended criminal justice overhaul bill on Tuesday, sending a bipartisan measure that almost did not make it to the floor to what backers said was a clear and swift path to becoming law.

The bill, which was brought to the floor as an amendment to an unrelated measure, survived initial indifference from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a series of amendments from Republican opponents, and the addition of some other amendments before ultimately earning an overwhelming bipartisan final vote.

To Prevent Election Meddling, Invest in Black Voters, Groups Say
Russian disinformation campaign seized on long history of suppressing black votes

A voter enters the polling station at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Birmingham, Ala., to vote in the 2017 special election to fill Jeff Sessions' seat in the U.S. Senate. In the foreground is a historical marker noting a 1963 civil rights march to the courthouse to register African-American women as voters. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Political leaders seeking to prevent future meddling in American elections could take a lesson from the Russians: Invest in black voters.

That’s one takeaway from reports this week that Russian operatives disproportionately targeted African-Americans during the 2016 election, according to groups that seek to increase black participation and representation in American politics. 

Marijuana States Rights Amendment Blocked, But Cory Gardner Will Be Back
Colorado GOP senator said he will be offering the legislation again

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said he will be back to try to protect states' rights with respect to marijuana. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Cory Gardner failed to add language to the Senate’s criminal justice bill that would ensure the federal government respects Colorado’s marijuana legalization. But neither the Republican senator, who is running for re-election in 2020, nor the issue will be going away.

Gardner tried to line up as part of the floor debate on the criminal justice overhaul an amendment based on legislation he introduced with Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

What Really Happens During a Government Shutdown, Explained
 

A government shutdown threat still looms this week as President Donald Trump and Congress continue to spar over federal funding for the remaining seven bills left to pass for fiscal year 2019.

It’s the President’s Latest TV Drama. Call It ‘Trump Show: Shutdown’
POTUS cast himself as maestro, but Republicans lack Christmas crisis-averting plan

Can President Donald Trump extract himself and Congress from the the shutdown-related dramatics he has fanned? (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS | Republicans — despite controlling the House, Senate and White House — have no firm plan to avert a partial government shutdown scheduled to start on Friday night. But for President Donald Trump, that’s just when he feels most in control.

“We’ll see what happens,” Trump said Tuesday afternoon during an unrelated event. “It’s too early to say.” (Translation: Stay tuned to “The Trump Show.”)

Senators Preparing to Punt Spending Fight to February
Democrats rejected latest GOP border wall offer

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier Tuesday that he would consider punting the appropriations fight into next year, with the caveat he had to see what the White House was willing to accept. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 8:07 p.m. | Congressional leaders are moving closer to a stopgap funding bill that would save Christmas, but push off final decisions on fiscal 2019 spending until early February.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby said the Senate was preparing to advance a continuing resolution for all seven unfinished spending bills that would last until early February.

Poll: Democrat Leads GOP Governor in Kentucky
Republican Matt Bevin is unpopular and trails potential challengers

Polling shows Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, right, is potentially vulnerable in his 2019 re-election bid. That could affect the 2020 re-election bid of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, left. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A new poll of next year’s gubernatorial race in Kentucky shows Democrats in position to extend their nationwide winning streak beyond the 2018 midterms.

Aside from taking back the House majority, Democrats also gained seven governorships around the country. And the party could pick up two more next year with wins in Kentucky and Mississippi, while re-electing Gov. John Bel Edwards in Louisiana.

Word on the Hill: What’s Buzzing on Capitol Hill?
Pillow talk, Senator Hatch’s Office has spoken, and staffer shuffle

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

We’re all over Capitol Hill and its surrounding haunts looking for good stories. Some of the best are ones we come across while reporting the big stories.

There is life beyond legislating, and this is the place for it. We look, but we don’t find everything. We want to know what you see too.

Six States Will Boast All-Women Senate Delegations in 2019
Martha McSally appointment in Arizona sets makeup for 116th Congress

A record of six states will be represented by two women in the Senate in the new congress, a phenomenon made possible by the appointment of Martha McSally to an Arizona Senate seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The appointment of GOP Rep. Martha McSally to the late Sen. John McCain’s Arizona Senate seat for the new year will push the chamber to a new milestone: The Senate in the 116th Congress will have the highest number of all-women delegations in history.

Six states will be represented by two women in the Senate in the new congress, surpassing the previous record of four states, which was the case in 2011 and again in 2012, 2013 and 2018.

Listen to the New Sing-Song Warning for Senate Subway Riders
A new disembodied voice now rings out in the Russell trains

New audio warnings have been added for riders on the Senate subway. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There’s a new soundtrack in the Senate basement this week, with the addition of audio warnings for riders on the Russell trains.

“Stand clear, the doors are closing,” says the announcement, which follows a few musical tones.