Latest Headlines: What We’ve Been Watching

September 27, 2022

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In case you missed ’em—here are some of the stories making headlines this week.

The House and Senate have an easier path toward Friday’s deadline to approve government funding to avoid a shutdown because Tuesday evening Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) agreed to drop a side deal over a permitting proposal that had been causing a stalemate in Senate. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had promised he would pass permitting reform in exchange for Manchin’s vote for the Inflation Reduction Act, which President Biden signed Into law last month, but Senate Republicans—and some Democrats—had lined up against that secondary legislation in the funding bill. 

The move likely paves the way for quicker passage of the rest of the funding, which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said will have bipartisan support. 

24 Secret Service Agents’ Cell Phones Given to DHS

NBC News is reporting that Secret Service leadership has handed over to the Department of Homeland Security the cell phones of 24 agents involved in the response to the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill.

Sources tell NBC the phones were confiscated “shortly after” a July 19 letter was sent by Inspector General Joseph Cuffari’s office, around the time he launched a criminal investigation into the agency’s missing text messages.

Meadows Texts Link White House to Voting Machines Plot

CNN obtained text messages revealing that a key operative briefed White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about a plot to try to gain access to voting machines in Arizona and Georgia in an attempt to overturn the 2020 Presidential election.

Phil Waldron texted Meadows that an Arizona judge had dismissed a lawsuit by GOP lawmakers who’d demanded the voting machines be handed over so they could hunt for voter fraud—a baseless claim made by then-President Trump.

The texts from Waldron to Meadows go on to characterize Arizona as the “lead domino we were counting on to start the cascade,” referring to similar efforts in other states like Georgia.

Meadows responded, “Pathetic.”

Biden Judicial Confirmation Outpacing Trump – So Far

The 50/50 Senate, with Vice President Harris acting as a tie-breaking vote, has had an impact on President Biden’s ability to get federal judicial nominees approved. Over the past two weeks the Senate confirmed four new federal judges, bringing Biden’s total to 83. By contrast, former President Trump had installed 69 judges at this point in his tenure.

However, Senate Republican Leader McConnell began fast-pacing judicial approvals in the second half of Trump’s term, bringing his total confirmations to 231. And with the midterm elections some five weeks away, the control of the Senate is very much up in the air.

Italy Elects Most Far-right Government Since WWII

Following this weekend’s election, Giorgia Meloni was set to become Italy’s first woman Prime Minister, and the head of the most right-wing government that country has experienced since Mussolini’s National Fascist party during World War II.

The Brothers of Italy party is promising to usher in an era of political stability while dealing with an array of issues, like surging energy bills. Italy is the Eurozone’s third largest economy.

Meloni, who has spoken out against what she calls “the LGBT lobby” and mass immigration, downplayed both in her acceptance speech, calling for “focusing on what unites us rather than what divides us.”

Gas Leaking from Russia’s Nord Stream 2 Pipeline

Danish authorities had their ships steering clear of a “dangerous” five-mile radius in the Baltic Sea where gas was leaking from the defunct Russian-owned Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which has been a flashpoint of Europe and Moscow’s escalating energy disputes since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparked international sanctions in February.

The pipeline, which was intended to double the volume of gas flowing from St. Petersburg under the Baltic Sea to Germany, had just been completed and filled with 300 million cubic meters of gas when Germany cancelled it days before the invasion.

The German government said it was working with local Danish law enforcement to figure out what caused pressure in the pipeline to plummet suddenly.

On Tuesday, the pipeline’s operator said it had sustained “unprecedented” damage and that it was impossible to estimate when the system’s working capability would be restored.

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