Fed chair Jerome Powell at a press conference in September. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images.

The Federal Reserve cut its benchmark interest rate Wednesday for the third consecutive time this year, by a quarter point, to between 1.5% and 1.75%. Chairman Jerome Powell hinted the central bank would hold off on further rate cuts.

Why it matters: The Fed has set out to shield the economy from risks, including the U.S.-China trade war. But the likely pause in rate cuts means officials think the economy has enough insulation for now.

Between the lines: The new benchmark rate could be the prevailing one for the foreseeable future.

  • "We see the current stance of monetary policy as likely to remain appropriate as long as incoming information about the economy remains broadly consistent with our outlook," Powell said at a press conference following the rate decision.
  • The Fed also removed a phrase that's been associated with interest rate cuts from its closely watched policy statement — "act as appropriate to sustain the expansion" — which market-watchers interpreted to mean that the central bank could put rate cuts on pause.

What they're saying: The Fed noted in the statement that economic activity "has been rising at a moderate rate," job gains have been "solid, on average, in recent months, and the unemployment rate has remained low."

  • Yes, but: While consumer spending is strong, "business fixed investment and exports remain weak," the central bank said.
  • The Fed also noted that inflation remained below its 2% target rate.

Two Fed officials voted against the rate cut — down from the three dissenters in September.

Go deeper: Fed’s Kashkari pushes back against Trump pressure

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told "Axios on HBO" on Monday that he wishes reining in the national debt was a higher priority for President Trump.

Why it matters: Trump pledged during the 2016 campaign to reduce the national debt and eliminate it entirely within eight years, though he also deemed himself "the king of debt" and said there were some priorities that required spending. In the fiscal year that ended in September, the deficit reached a record $3.1 trillion.

Federal judge blocks DOJ from defending Trump in Carroll rape defamation case

E. Jean Carroll in Warwick, New York. Photo: Eva Deitch for The Washington Post via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed the Justice Department's attempted intervention on behalf of President Trump in writer E. Jean Carroll's defamation lawsuit against him, after she accused him of raping her in a dressing room in the mid-1990s.

Catch up quick: The agency argued that Trump was "acting within the scope of his office" as president when he said in 2019 that Carroll was "lying" about her claim.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  2. Health: The coronavirus is starting to crush some hospitals — 13 states set single-day case records last week.
  3. Business: Where stimulus is needed most.
  4. Education: The dangerous instability of school re-openings.
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  7. Media: Fox News president and several hosts advised to quarantine.