10 things you need to know today: September 29, 2018

Senate Judiciary Committee votes in favor of Kavanaugh's confirmation, Trump orders FBI investigation into Kavanaugh allegations, and more

Senate Judiciary Committee member Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) (C) speaks with colleagues after a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on September 28, 2018.
(Image credit: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

1. Senate Judiciary Committee votes in favor of Kavanaugh's confirmation

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday voted 11-10 along party lines to recommend Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation. On Thursday, the committee heard testimony from Christine Blasey Ford, who alleges Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in the 1980s, and from Kavanaugh himself, who strongly denies the claim. The vote was delayed roughly 20 minutes for last-minute dealmaking. Swing vote Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who is not seeking re-election, called for a maximum one-week delay on the full floor vote until the FBI can conduct an investigation of the allegations against Kavanaugh.

The Washington Post C-SPAN

2. Trump orders FBI investigation into Kavanaugh allegations

President Trump on Friday ordered an FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, a step requested by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). The probe "must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week," Trump said, tweeting Friday night that this is "our 7th FBI investigation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh," who "will someday be recognized as a truly great Justice." Kavanaugh's high school friend, Mark Judge, whom Christine Blasey Ford alleges witnessed Kavanaugh's assault, has reportedly agreed to cooperate "confidentially" with the FBI. Ford's attorneys decried the "artificial" one-week limit.

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The New York Times The White House

3. Trump signs spending bill to prevent government shutdown

President Trump signed a $855 billion spending bill Friday, averting a government shutdown until at least Dec. 7. Trump was considering holding out for a bill that provided U.S.-Mexico border wall funding, but confirmed Wednesday he wouldn't let the government shut down after all. The bill includes a $606.5 billion budget for the Pentagon and $178 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services, among other programs. Because the funding only lasts two months, Trump could make his much-promised border wall an issue the bill's next iteration.

The Washington Post CNN

4. Earthquake, tsunami kill nearly 400 in Indonesia

A 7.5-magnitude earthquake triggered a 10-foot-tall tsunami off the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on Friday morning, killing at least 384 people and injuring hundreds more. Entire families have been reported missing, Indonesian disaster agency representative Sutopo Purwo Nugroho reported. A number of houses have been swept away, and a large mosque has collapsed. The tsunami hit the cities of Palu and Donggala, where more than 600,000 people live. Electricity and communications are down in many areas, and the international airport is closed, making rescue efforts difficult, particularly in more rural regions.

CNN The Week

5. House votes to extend individual tax cuts permanently

The House of Representatives on Friday voted for a permanent extension of tax cuts for individuals and unincorporated businesses passed in the GOP tax reform law last year. At present, these changes are set to expire in 2025 (or sooner, in some cases), after which tax rates will return to previous, higher levels. However, the Senate has no plans to consider the extension, suggesting the House vote may be more a campaign tool for GOP representatives than a meaningful policy action. All but 10 House Republicans supported the extension; just three Democrats voted yes.

Politico The Hill

6. Administration report predicts 7-degree increase in average global temperatures by 2100

A Trump administration environmental impact statement for a decision to freeze fuel efficiency standards predicts a 7-degree increase in average global temperatures by the end of the century, The Washington Post reported Friday, citing a draft of the document. Though such a climate shift would produce catastrophic results, the report argues the change is inevitable, rendering regulatory efforts to prevent it useless. Drastic measures to sufficiently decrease carbon emissions "would require the economy and the vehicle fleet to move away from the use of fossil fuels, which is not currently technologically feasible or economically feasible," the document reportedly says.

The Washington Post The Week

7. Data from 50 million Facebook users compromised by network attack

A network attack exposed about 50 million Facebook users' data, the social network revealed Friday, and the vulnerability has since been patched. Facebook is investigating the extent of the damage, notified law enforcement about the breach, and on Friday logged 90 million users out of their accounts as a security measure. The company has repeatedly faced scrutiny for its handling of private user data, especially in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which a data firm hired by the Trump presidential campaign harvested data from 50 million Facebook users.

The New York Times TechCrunch

8. Judge rules congressional Democrats can sue Trump over emoluments clause

A federal district judge on Friday gave a group of about 200 Democratic senators and representatives the go-ahead to sue President Trump for alleged violations of the Constitution's emoluments clause. The provision bans the president accepting gifts from foreign heads of state absent congressional consent. The suit is led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and argues Trump has violated the clause by accepting payment for hotel, office, and event rentals by foreign officials at his Trump Organization properties. On election, Trump did not divest his assets in the business, instead placing them in a trust controlled by two of his sons.

Politico The Hill

9. F-35 jet crashes in South Carolina

An F-35B joint strike fighter crashed near Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in Beaufort, South Carolina, on Friday. "The U.S. Marine pilot safely ejected from the single-seat aircraft and is currently being evaluated by medical personnel," said a statement from the Marines. "There were no civilian injuries." The cause of the crash is under investigation. The F-35 is the world's most expensive weapons project and has been bogged down in delays and unexpected costs for years. Each plane costs about $100 million, depending on its features. This is the first time an F-35 has crashed.

ABC News BBC News

10. Jefferson Airplane's Marty Balin dies at 76

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Marty Balin, cofounder of psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane, died Thursday, his representative has confirmed to Rolling Stone. He was 76. Born Martyn Jerel Buchwal, Balin helped found Jefferson Airplane in San Francisco in 1965, and the group came to national fame within two years, playing shows including the Woodstock festival of 1969. Balin quit the group in 1970, later citing prevalent drug use as a cause for departure. He eventually reunited with some of the band members to form Jefferson Starship, of which he was a member until 2008. His cause of death has not been released.

Rolling Stone BBC News

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Bonnie Kristian

Bonnie Kristian was a deputy editor and acting editor-in-chief of TheWeek.com. She is a columnist at Christianity Today and author of Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community (forthcoming 2022) and A Flexible Faith: Rethinking What It Means to Follow Jesus Today (2018). Her writing has also appeared at Time Magazine, CNN, USA Today, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and The American Conservative, among other outlets.