The legislation would reduce mandatory minimums for certain drug offenses and largely ban solitary confinement for juveniles.
It’s widely thought that Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke will step down when his appointment expires next January.
Two well-known economists are considered top contenders for the position: Larry Summers and Janet Yellen.
Summers, who previously served as the president of Harvard University and Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton administration from 1999 to 2001, has close ties to President Obama.
But Summers received flak for his support of financial deregulation in the 1990s.
Janet Yellen is second in command at the Federal Reserve. If she is selected, she would be the first woman to serve as the chair of the Federal Reserve.
JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:
From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Jeremy Hobson. It's HERE AND NOW.
The giant hedge fund SAC Capital advisors pleaded not guilty today to insider trading after federal prosecutors filed criminal charges yesterday. SAC was indicted on four counts of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud. Authorities say founder, Steven Cohen, and other executives failed to prevent insider trading between 1999 and 2010. Here is George Venizelos, the head of the FBI's New York office.
GEORGE VENIZELOS: SAC Capital and its management fostered a culture of permissiveness, to be blunt. SAC, through the actions and inactions of its management, not only tolerated cheating, it encouraged it.
HOBSON: Eight former SAC employees were mentioned in the criminal indictment, though Steven Cohen has not been charged. A spokesman for the fund says, SAC has never encouraged, promoted or tolerated insider trading. And we'll have to wait and see what happens on that story.
But while we're talking business news, there has been a big debate this week about who should replace Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke when his term ends in January. He hasn't formally announced he's leaving, but it's widely expected that he will not stay on. And the race to succeed him looks like it is closing in between two well-known economists, Larry Summers and Janet Yellen. Joining us now to discuss is Marty Schenker, executive editor for Top News at Bloomberg News. Marty, welcome back.
MARTY SCHENKER: Thank you, Jeremy.
HOBSON: Well, first of all, the case for Larry Summers. He helped President Obama when he was chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. After the financial crisis, he, of course, also was the sometimes controversial head of Harvard University. He was treasury secretary for Bill Clinton. What's the case for him?
SCHENKER: Well, a lot of people feel that he has international standing and an understanding of the way institutions interact with each other through his experience in dealing with the global crisis in 2008. Plus, he has a personal relationship with President Obama and most Fed chairman do have a personal relationship with the president that appoints them.
HOBSON: And what about Janet Yellen? She was the head of the San Francisco Fed. Now, she is the vice chair, right? And she would be the first...
HOBSON: ...woman chair of the Fed if she replaces Bernanke.
SCHENKER: Not only would she be the first woman, she'd be the first number two vice chairman of the Fed ever to be elevated to the chairman spot. So she would be break - setting two precedents. Her - she is widely regarded - highly-regarded by her peers. In a poll we did of economists in June, she was the choice of 65 percent of the economists that follow the Fed. So she is an esteemed academic, and she has a large intellectual base on which to work. So she is well-regarded.
HOBSON: And Summers and Yellen are the two everybody is talking about but it's - those aren't the only choices.
SCHENKER: Those - well, no. I mean, the Obama Administration today, through a spokesperson, said they are not anywhere near deciding who they're going to choose if Bernanke decides he does not want to be reappointed, and there could be dark horses in a lot of places. Roger Ferguson, who was Fed vice-chairman, is one of those who could emerge.
HOBSON: So, Marty, if you were to make a bet at this point about what would happen - and there are a lot of people who really have strong feelings on - especially both sides of the Yellen-Summers fight, what would you say?
SCHENKER: Well, I'm - I have, at least a 50 percent chance of being wrong.
SCHENKER: So I'd just as soon not predict. But I will say that whoever they choose will probably be someone they're confident can be confirmed without a battle.
HOBSON: Marty Schenker, executive editor at Bloomberg News. Thanks a lot.
SCHENKER: You're welcome. See you, Jeremy.
HOBSON: And up next, now that cameras are all over the place, every disaster from the train crash in Spain to the meteorite in Russia gets captured on video, played over and over again. But should we be watching? We're back with that next. HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.