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Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg, who recently rocketed to the top of polls in Iowa, released a $500 billion college affordability plan today, which would make public college tuition free for households earning under $100,000 and inject $120 billion into federal Pell Grants.

The big picture: It contrasts with more expansive proposals from Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who want to wipe out all college tuition and debt — though nearly every 2020 contender has their own ideas.

  • The WashPost's editorial board called Buttigieg's plan "the most progressive" among 2020 Democrats "because it is more affordable and better targeted."

Why it matters: College affordability is set to be a key issue in 2020 as the American electorate undergoes a distinct shift — with millennials and Generation Zers making up 37% of eligible voters.

  • Gen Z is set to surpass the Silent Generation in voter share for the first time, a significant milestone as those new voters skew heavily liberal and are almost half non-white.
  • College students turned out to vote at double the rate in the 2018 midterms than in the 2014 cycle — a trend that seems likely to continue in 2020.

By the numbers: The class of 2018 graduated with a record average of $29,200 in loans for a bachelor's degree, but the issue of college debt affects a wider swath of the country than just current students and recent graduates.

The bottom line: Buttigieg, as a moderate millennial Midwestern mayor, seems uniquely suited to speak to the issue of college affordability, and that opportunity is arriving just as he peaks in the polls.

Go deeper: Buttigieg to face frontrunner scrutiny after surprise Iowa poll

Go deeper

Updated 30 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Senate action on stimulus bill continues as Dems reach deal on jobless aid

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democratic leaders struck an agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) on emergency unemployment insurance late Friday, clearing the way for Senate action on President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package to resume after an hours-long delay.

The state of play: The Senate will now work through votes on a series of amendments that are expected to last overnight into early Saturday morning.

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

Financial fallout from the Texas deep freeze

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Texas has thawed out after an Arctic freeze last month threw the state into a power crisis. But the financial turmoil from power grid shock is just starting to take shape.

Why it matters: In total, electricity companies are billions of dollars short on the post-storm payments they now owe to the state's grid operator. There's no clear path for how they will pay — something being watched closely across the country as extreme weather events become more common.

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