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  • Bluntly calling out Attorney General Jeff Sessions' hard-line stance on criminal justice as "wrong," a "mistake" and "aggressive," Senators Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, and Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, have pledged to fight for sentencing reform.
  • Wednesday afternoon, nearly the entire membership of the US Senate packed into a bus and headed to the White House grounds for an unprecedented classified briefing from top Trump administration officials on North Korea policy. Such a huge meeting, on such a volatile topic, had people wondering — was the United States about to announce some risky new policy on North Korea? Perhaps some kind of scary military escalation, or even a preemptive strike on a nuclear-armed power?
  • The health care bill House Republicans unveiled earlier this week has a serious defect?—?it cannot pass the Senate in its current form even if every single Republican backs it. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) explains why.
  • Around the time of Donald Trump’s inauguration, Ben Wikler began visiting the DC offices of Senate Democrats to press them to fight harder against the new president. The director of the progressive group MoveOn.org, Wikler wanted to know if they would do everything they could to block the Republican agenda.
  • President Trump’s first Supreme Court nomination has the potential to do more than reshape the nation’s judicial branch for years to come. It could end the Senate’s long history as the world’s greatest deliberative body. Liberal and conservative activists are girding for a fight that, under current rules, gives Democrats the power to block any court nomination. But in this week’s environment, with Democrats delaying Cabinet nominations and both sides calling each other names largely unheard of in the history of the Senate’s genteel discourse, Republicans could take steps to eliminate that power.
  • Congress is back with a daunting must-do list, but its first order of business was the Iran nuclear deal. Senate Democrats successfully filibustered a disapproval resolution on Thursday that was meant to kill the deal. The vote was 58-42 —Senate Republicans and other opponents needed 60 to pass.
  • President Barack Obama's choice of Loretta Lynch to be the next top U.S. law enforcement official is ensnared in infighting over abortion and immigration policy and, if that can be overcome, a tight vote once her nomination arrives before the Senate. Congressional vote counters on Tuesday were speculating on the possibility of a 50-50 Senate tie, which would result in her confirmation as attorney general, assuming Democratic Vice President Joe Biden broke the deadlock by voting for her. But it also assumes that the four Senate Republicans, out of 54, who support Lynch to replace retiring Attorney General Eric Holder continue to do so and help deliver a victory for Obama.
  • A day after releasing a letter that potentially threatened the administration’s negotiations with Iran, some Republicans who signed on are realizing it was a bad call. Behind the scenes, Republicans are wondering if sending an open letter to Iran’s leaders was the best strategy to keep a bad nuclear deal from being negotiated. Earlier this week, 47 Republican senators signed a letter warning the Iranian government that many of them would remain in office long after President Barack Obama’s second term was over, meaning any deal reached between the U.S. and Iran could be easily reversed by the next president.

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