National News

5 things for February 8: Budget deal, Syria, Winter Olympics

Posted February 6, 2018 6:18 a.m. EST

— Today, we launch a special section for the Winter Olympics. And if you're a fanatic (like we are), here are 10 places you can live out your Olympic dreams. Here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get "5 Things You Need to Know Today" delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. Budget deal

Congress reached a bipartisan, two-year deal on spending, meaning we may not have to worry about government shutdowns for a couple of years. Here's what's in the agreement (and it's a lot):

It funds the government through March 23 (so, no shutdown tonight).

It would bust the budget caps and significantly hike spending -- by $300 billion -- on both defense and domestic items over the next two years.

It provides disaster relief funding for Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico.

It raises the debt ceiling (remember that?) through at least next year.

It funds community health centers for two years.

Congress still has to vote on this, which it will do today, but the feeling is that this will get done. Not everybody's happy with it, though. House conservatives are furious about all this spending (so much for reining it in) and may withhold their votes.

Now, you may notice there's nothing in this deal about immigration. Nancy Pelosi noticed that, too, and took to the House floor -- for a record-breaking EIGHT hours! -- to complain about it. She wants a commitment from House Speaker Paul Ryan that there will be a vote on DACA.

2. White House

Top White House staffer Rob Porter resigned after abuse allegations from his two ex-wives went public. But here's the real shocker: Sources tell CNN that senior aides to President Trump knew about the claims for months and scrambled to protect Porter. Trump didn't know until this week. Porter denies the allegations but quit anyway after photos of the alleged abuse got out.

Meantime, President Trump's approval rating is on the rise, hitting 40% in a new Quinnipiac poll. He can thank growing approval of the GOP tax cuts and the fact that for the first time more people give him credit for the good economy, rather than Barack Obama.

3. Syria

More than 100 fighters linked to the Syrian regime were killed in air and artillery strikes conducted by the US-led coalition that's fighting ISIS in the country. The coalition said it carried out the strikes after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launched an attack against the headquarters of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a mix of Kurdish and Arab fighters that has been an important US ally in the fight against ISIS. At the time of the attack, coalition advisers were training US-backed Syrian fighters. No coalition or US personnel were killed.

4. The Philippines

The International Criminal Court launched an inquiry into Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte's brutal war on drugs, Duterte's spokesman said. Rights groups long have accused Duterte of human rights violations in his anti-drug campaign, which Human Rights Watch estimates has killed 12,000 people since June 2016. Duterte "welcomes" the inquiry, the spokesman said, because he's tired of the accusations. The ICC didn't return calls seeking comment.

5. San Francisco and opioids

San Francisco may soon open the nation's first legal safe injection sites in a move aimed at curbing the opioid epidemic. The city's health department OK'd the proposal, which would provide people a safe space to consume drugs under the supervision of trained staff who can respond if there's an overdose. There are more than 120 of the controversial facilities around the world. Philadelphia also has welcomed private organizations to set up injection sites, and Seattle and Baltimore are talking about it, too.

PyeongChang 2018: Aiming for Gold

ACTION UNDERWAY!: The Games don't officially start until tomorrow, but curling and ski jumping kick these Olympics off today.

NORTH KOREA: As North Korea puts on a huge military parade in Pyongyang, the country's 22 Olympic athletes raised their flag at an official "welcome" in the Olympic Village.

RUSSIAN ATHLETES' FATE: The Court of Arbitration for Sport is due to rule soon on 32 Russian athletes' appeals.

COLDEST OLYMPICS IN DECADES: Plunging to minus 20 degrees Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit) at night and rarely breaking above freezing in the day, the temperatures have put PyeongChang on track to be the coldest Olympics ever. The 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway, holds the record.