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Senate overwhelmingly passes criminal justice overhaul

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The Senate passed a sweeping criminal justice bill Tuesday that addresses concerns that the nation's war on drugs had led to the imprisonment of too many Americans for non-violent crimes without adequately preparing them for their return to society.

Senate passage of the bill by a vote of 87-12 culminates years of negotiations and gives President Donald Trump a signature policy victory, with the outcome hailed by scores of conservative and liberal advocacy groups. The House is expected to pass the bill this week, sending it to the president's desk for his signature.

The bill gives judges more discretion when sentencing some drug offenders and boosts prisoner rehabilitation efforts. It also reduces the life sentence for some drug offenders with three convictions, or "three strikes," to 25 years. Another provision would allow about 2,600 federal prisoners sentenced for crack cocaine offenses before August 2010 the opportunity to petition for a reduced penalty.

Slideshow preview image  Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said the nation's prisons are full of Americans who are struggling with mental illness and addiction, and who are overwhelmingly poor. He said the nation's criminal justice system "feeds on certain communities and not on others," and said the bill represents a step toward "healing" for those communities.

"Let's make no mistake, this legislation, which is one small step, will affect thousands and thousands of lives," Booker said.

The Senate turned back three amendments Tuesday from Republican senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and John Kennedy of Louis

Read more: http://electionnewschannel.com/top-news/92140-senate-overwhelmingly-passes-criminal-justice-overhaul

US federal judge rules Obamacare unconstitutional

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A U.S. federal judge in Texas ruled on Friday that the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is unconstitutional, a decision that was likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor in Fort Worth agreed with a coalition of 20 states that a change in tax law last year eliminating a penalty for not having health insurance invalidated the entire Obamacare law.

O'Connor's decision was issued the day before the end of a 45-day sign-up period for 2019 health coverage under the law.

About 11.8 million consumers nationwide enrolled in 2018 Obamacare exchange plans, according to the U.S. government's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The coalition of states challenging the law was led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, both Republicans.

Republicans have opposed the 2010 law, the signature domestic policy achievement of President Donald Trump's Democratic predecessor Barack Obama, since its inception and have repeatedly tried and failed to repeal it.

The White House hailed Friday's ruling, but said the law would remain in place pending its expected appeal to the Supreme Court.

"Once again, the president calls on Congress to replace Obamacare and act to protect people with preexisting conditions and provide Americans with quality affordable healthcare," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

In June, the Justice Department declared the healthcare law's "individual mandate" unconstitutional in federal court. The decision was a break with a long-standing executive branch practice of defending existing statutes in court.

A year ago, Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax bill that included a provision eliminating the individual mandate.

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Read more: http://electionnewschannel.com/top-news/91698-u-s-federal-judge-rules-obamacare-unconstitutional

Chief Justice of California Supreme Court quits GOP over Kavanaugh

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Chief Justice of California Tani Cantil-Sakauye has reportedly renounced her Republican party registration and re-registered as a no-party-preference voter, citing now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Cantil-Sakauye made the comments in a phone interview on Thursday to CALmatters, a nonprofit news organization, saying that she had been thinking about Kavanaugh's September confirmation hearing.

"I've been thinking about it for some time," Cantil-Sakauye told the news outlet of her decision. She said that she spoke with her husband and friends about the hearing and their conclusion was that "you didn't leave the party. The party left you.

Christine Blasey Ford, a California professor, testified before Congress in September that in 1982, Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her. Kavanaugh, who also testified, strongly denied it. He was narrowly confirmed in October by the Senate to the Supreme Court in a 50-48 vote.

"I felt compelled to make a choice now. It better suits what I do and how I approach issues," Cantil-Sakauye told the news outlet, adding that she has become displeased with the GOP's direction nationally and in her home state.

Cantil-Sakauye, 59, was tapped by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, in 2011 to be the state's top judge. She is the first Asian-Filipina American and the second woman to serve as chief justice of California's Supreme Court, according to her official biography.

Related: Brett Kavanaugh sworn in as Supreme Court Justice

Cantil-Sakauye previously excoriated President Donald Trump for being as being harmful to the "rule of law" because of his attacks on judges.

"The people uttering those are doing damage, short-term and long-term, to courts, to the rule of law," Cantil-Sakauye said earlier this week.

She was referring to questions regarding Trump's statement last month that a ruling against the administration's immigration policy was made by "an Obama judge."

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts also rebutted Trump's remarks at the time in a rare statement, saying, "We do not have Obama jud

Read more: http://electionnewschannel.com/top-news/91623-chief-justice-of-california-supreme-court-quits-gop-over-kavanaugh

Emails Show Trump Administration Was Told Obamacare Ad Cuts Could Hurt Enrollment

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One projection showed 102,000 fewer sign-ups without TV advertising.

The Trump administration last year eliminated television advertising for HealthCare.gov despite projections suggesting that Obamacare enrollment would fall by more than 100,000 as a result, newly disclosed government emails show.

The decision to cut television advertising, announced in August 2017, was part of a larger and dramatic cut to outreach efforts for the federal government’s insurance website, which is part of the Affordable Care Act. At the time, administration officials said they had no reason to believe those reductions, including the end of TV advertising, would cause fewer people to sign up.

But in a series of email conversations last year, analysts at a private contractor and senior staff at the agency in charge of HealthCare.gov discussed an econometric model designed to predict the likely effect of changes to the advertising budget.

Weeks before the announcement of the cut, one of the analysts cited a prediction that enrollment would fall by 102,029 without television spots promoting HealthCare.gov and the availability of coverage on the site. The estimate, which the analyst described as “very conservative,” covered just a portion of the advertising cuts.

The decision was one in a series of actions, such as yanking funds from organizations that help people enroll, that seemed consistent with Trump’s vow last year that he would “let Obamacare fail.” 

Many experts believe the cumulative effect of these steps over the past two years helps explain why the number of uninsured Americans is edging back up after hitting a record low during the Obama administration and why sign-ups at HealthCare.gov this year are lagging last year’s pace, although open enrollment doesn’t end until Saturday.

What The Emails Say

The emails, which the left-leaning watchdog group Democracy Forward obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and then provided to HuffPost, start in January 2017, when Trump became president. One of his administration’s very first moves was to cut off adver

Read more: http://electionnewschannel.com/top-news/91587-emails-show-trump-administration-was-told-obamacare-ad-cuts-could-hurt-enrollment

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