On Politics: The Biggest Stories of the Week

From the border wall fight to conflict with Iran, it’s been a busy week in American politics. Here are some of the biggest stories you might have missed (and some links if you’d like to read further).


House and Senate negotiators agreed “in principle” on Monday to provide $1.375 billion for physical barriers at the southwestern border. The deal provided much less funding than the proposal President Trump rejected in December, and his border wall took a back seat in Congress’s budget negotiations, which instead focused on the record number of immigrants in detention. (Here are five takeaways from the deal.)

Mr. Trump said on Wednesday that he was “not happy” with the deal but that he didn’t think there would be another government shutdown. He sought to reassure supporters that he would not give up on his “build the wall” pledge, saying he had “options that most people don’t understand.”

The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, persuaded Mr. Trump to agree to the bill, but it came at a price: The president would declare a national emergency to secure wall funding, he told the majority leader — and Mr. McConnell would have to back him.

On the Republican end, former Gov. Bill Weld of Massachusetts announced on Friday his intention to challenge Mr. Trump for the Republican Party’s 2020 nomination. His candidacy might be more an act of protest than a conventional campaign.

There are six women in the 2020 race, but Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York is the only one who has been making feminism the central theme of her candidacy. And with a record number of women running, gender bias is certain to play a role in the race. Here’s how sexism plays out on the campaign trail.

Additional Reading

Democrats Unveil Plan to Split First 2020 Presidential Debates Over 2 Nights

Yes, It Is Really Early for So Many Democrats to Have Joined the 2020 Race

Kamala Harris Is Accused of Lying About Listening to Tupac. Here’s What Happened.

The Trump White House has accelerated a secret program to sabotage Iran’s missiles and rockets. It is part of an expanding campaign to undercut the country’s military and isolate its economy.

While the United States and Israel have accused Iran of instigating terrorism in the Middle East, Iran itself has also been the target of terrorist attacks.

In one of the deadliest attacks in the country in years, a bombing on Wednesday is reported to have killed 41 members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. The Revolutionary Guards are blaming the United States, suggesting it was no coincidence that it happened as the Trump administration was hosting an anti-Iran-themed meeting in Poland.

Also on Wednesday, an indictment on a former United States Air Force counterintelligence agent, Monica Elfriede Witt, was made public. Ms. Witt was charged with spying for Iran; ex-officials say her defection severely damaged United States intelligence efforts.

Mr. Trump said on Tuesday he would consider delaying a March 2 deadline for a trade deal with China if negotiations, which will continue next week, go well.

There was confusion in South Korea after Mr. Trump said that he’d made the country contribute $500 million more toward the cost of the American troop presence there. An agreement signed on Sunday says nothing of the kind.

As Virginia comes to terms with the possibility that for the next three years, its executive branch could include two men who wore blackface and a third accused of rape, there’s an unmistakable racial divide among the state’s women about how to proceed.

Mr. Trump’s State of the Union pledge to end the scourge of H.I.V. was welcomed by AIDS activists, but it contradicted two years of policies and proposals.


Today’s On Politics briefing was compiled by Tammy Tarng in New York.

Is there anything you think we’re missing? Anything you want to see more of? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at onpolitics@nytimes.com.