Construction on southern border wall. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Nearly three years after President Trump took office, the first section of his promised southern border wall has been installed about a mile north of the Rio Grande, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The government is scrambling to complete 500 miles of wall by the end of next year, per the Times. However, several roadblocks have cropped up along the way, with House Democrats trying to block funding and private landowners fighting the government in court.

The state of play: Construction started in Donna, Tex. in late October — months behind schedule — in part to ease pressure on border agents near the Rio Grande Valley, the busiest border zone, writes the Times.

  • The two steel squares in place where nothing previously stood are only a small portion of Trump's wall, and remain incomplete. The southwestern border stretches some 1,900 miles.
  • To date, the Trump administration has largely focused on improving and replacing existing barriers in California, Arizona and New Mexico, per the Times.
  • Construction at sites in Hidalgo County, Tex. will cost $167 million, and the contract has been awarded to a Texas company, notes the Times.

The bottom line: In total, about 76 miles of replacement wall have been completed along the border, per federal officials, leaving more than 400 miles to be built in roughly 60 weeks to meet the 2020 deadline.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Chris Christie: Wear a mask "or you may regret it — as I did" — Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted relief bill.
  2. Business: New state unemployment filings fall.
  3. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  4. Health: FDA approves Gilead's remdesivir as a coronavirus treatment How the pandemic might endMany U.S. deaths were avoidable.
  5. Education: Boston and Chicago send students back home for online learning.
  6. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.

Early voting eclipses 2016 total with 12 days until election

People stand in line to vote early in Fairfax, Virginia in September. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Americans have cast more than 47.1 million ballots in the 2020 presidential election, surpassing the total early-vote count for 2016 with 12 days left until Election Day, according to a Washington Post analysis of voting data.

Why it matters: The election is already underway, as many states have expanded early and mail-in voting options because of the coronavirus pandemic.

What to expect from the final debate of the 2020 election

Trump and Biden at the first debate. Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Image

Watch for President Trump to address Joe Biden as “the big guy” or “the chairman” at tonight's debate as a way of dramatizing the Hunter Biden emails. Hunter's former business partner Tony Bobulinski is expected to be a Trump debate guest.

The big picture: Trump's advisers universally view the first debate as a catastrophe — evidenced by a sharp plunge in Trump’s public and (more convincingly for them) private polling immediately following the debate.