This week: Senate braces for FBI report on Kavanaugh allegations

Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination is in limbo as the Senate awaits the results of an eleventh hour investigation by the FBI into the sexual assault allegations that have roiled the Supreme Court fight.

GOP leadership and the White House made a political U-turn late last week when they called for the law enforcement agency to reopen its background investigation and look into “credible” allegations.

The move came after several moderate senators, led by retiring Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeDemocrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Democrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump's impeachment MORE (R-Ariz.), said they wanted a vote on Kavanaugh to be delayed for up to a week to give the FBI time to investigate, a day after Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the first woman to publicly accuse Kavanaugh, testified in an emotionally fraught hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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It’s a significant shift for Republicans, who have dismissed that the FBI needed to investigate the alleged sexual misconduct and noted the agency already did six background checks into Kavanaugh.

But Republicans hold a slim 51-49 majority in the Senate and with other GOP senators, including Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiHillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Hillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Klobuchar, Murkowski introduce legislation to protect consumer health data MORE (Alaska) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report — Uproar after Trump's defense of foreign dirt on candidates The Hill's Morning Report — Uproar after Trump's defense of foreign dirt on candidates Democratic challenger to Susan Collins announces Senate bid MORE (Maine), backing Flake, Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw Overnight Defense: Trump doubles down on claim Iran attacked tankers | Iran calls accusations 'alarming' | Top nuke official quietly left Pentagon | Pelosi vows Congress will block Saudi arms sale MORE (R-Ky.) likely could not have moved his nomination without making a deal.

Under the weeklong delay, Kavanaugh’s nomination could be held up until Friday, though Flake acknowledged that there is a chance the FBI could wrap up their work ahead of schedule.

Flake told CBS News’s “60 Minutes” that Kavanaugh’s nomination and the allegations against him are “tearing the country apart.”

“I just knew that we couldn’t move forward, that I couldn’t move forward without hitting the pause button, because what I was seeing, experiencing, in an elevator and watching it in committee and just thinking this is tearing the country apart,” Flake said.

Flake told reporters on Friday that by calling for a delay so the FBI could investigate he wanted a “better process.” But there are already signs that both sides are digging in as they await the update to Kavanaugh’s background investigation.

Sources with knowledge of the matter told NBC News that the White House is limiting the scope of the FBI's investigation into sexual assault allegations leveled against Kavanaugh.

The sources said the FBI’s investigation will focus on Ford and Deborah Ramirez, who claims that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were both students at Yale University.

The FBI, according to NBC News, has not been permitted to investigate Julie Swetnick's claims that Kavanaugh engaged in sexual misconduct in high school. Republicans have largely dismissed Swetnick’s claims as politically motivated.

The report sparked outrage from Democrats who worry that the White House will try to micromanage the investigation in an effort to protect Kavanaugh.

“To limit the FBI as to the scope and who they’re going to question … that’s not the kind of investigation that all of us are expecting the FBI to conduct," Democratic Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoFemale senators hatch plan to 'shame' Senate into voting faster Female senators hatch plan to 'shame' Senate into voting faster Trump defense pick expected to face tense confirmation MORE (Hawaii), a member of the Judiciary Committee, told ABC News’s “This Week.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinTrump remarks deepen distrust with intelligence community Trump remarks deepen distrust with intelligence community US women's soccer team reignites equal pay push MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, sent a letter on Sunday requesting a copy of the directive given from the White House to the FBI that outlines the scope of the investigation.

The White House and Republicans hit back on Sunday, arguing that Democrats are trying to move the goalposts on Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Trump in a tweet on Sunday argued that an investigation will “never be enough” for Democrats.

"Just starting to hear the Democrats, who are only thinking Obstruct and Delay, are starting to put out the word that the 'time' and 'scope' of FBI looking into Judge Kavanaugh and witnesses is not enough," Trump wrote.

Meanwhile, Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonSenate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales Senate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales Supporting the military means supporting military spouses MORE (R-Ark.), a close ally of the president’s in the Senate, said on Sunday that lawyers for Ford and Feinstein would be investigated because of Ford’s letter being leaked. Feinstein has repeatedly denied that she leaked the letter.

"Those lawyers are going to face a D.C. bar investigation into their misconduct. ... Dianne Feinstein and her staff is going to face an investigation for why they leaked that,” he told CBS News.

Cotton is not a member of the Senate Ethics Committee and did not specify who he believes will investigate Feinstein.

The partisan back-and-forth comes as Kavanaugh still remains short of the simple majority needed to be confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Collins and Murkowski remain undecided. Flake announced last week he would support Kavanaugh and said over the weekend that unless the FBI finds something he expects to support him.

Republicans can only afford to lose one GOP senator before they need help from Democrats to confirm Kavanaugh.

Three Democrats — Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Trump takes heat for remarks on help from foreign governments The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Trump takes heat for remarks on help from foreign governments The Hill's Morning Report - Trump and House Democrats resume battle MORE (W.Va.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyConservatives spark threat of bloody GOP primaries Anti-corruption group hits Congress for ignoring K Street, Capitol Hill 'revolving door' K Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers MORE (Ind.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampLobbying World Pro-trade group targets Democratic leadership in push for new NAFTA On The Money: Stocks sink on Trump tariff threat | GOP caught off guard by new trade turmoil | Federal deficit grew 38 percent this fiscal year | Banks avoid taking position in Trump, Dem subpoena fight MORE (N.D.) — supported Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee.

Donnelly announced last week that he would oppose Kavanaugh. Manchin and Heitkamp remain undecided.

FAA

The Senate is expected to take up a long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Senators passed a one-week extension of the program on Friday, giving them until Oct. 7 to clear the House-passed legislation that would fund the agency for five years after missing the original Sept. 30 deadline.

The bill provides funding and puts in place new safety regulations, including changes to the rest and duty rules for pilots and flight attendants. It also creates minimum dimensions for legroom on commercial flights and bans airlines from involuntarily removing passengers after boarding.

The legislation provides $1.68 billion in disaster relief for areas impacted by Hurricane Florence.

Opioids

The Senate has gotten a deal to take up House-passed legislation to fight the country’s opioid epidemic.

Under an agreement between McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw US women's soccer team reignites equal pay push MORE (D-N.Y.), at a time to be determined the Senate will take up the bill and have up to four hours of debate.

The bill passed the House in a 393-8 vote last week and once it passes the Senate will head to Trump’s desk.

The legislation includes a package of bills to fight the opioid crisis, including lifting some limits on Medicaid paying for care at addiction treatment facilities and cracking down on illicit opioids being imported by mail and fueling the crisis across the United States.