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Pete Buttigieg. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg announced in a speech in his hometown of South Bend, Indiana, Sunday night that he is suspending his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The big picture: The 38-year-old, gay, former small-town mayor ran a historic campaign and shocked the political world by surging to the top of the Democratic field and winning the Iowa caucuses in January. But his inability to gain traction with black voters, as exemplified by his poor showing in Saturday's South Carolina primary, called into question the long-term viability of his campaign.

  • Buttigieg was third in the field in terms of pledged delegates, winning 26 across Iowa (14), New Hampshire (9) and Nevada (3). He did not finish above the necessary 15% threshold to win delegates in South Carolina.

What they're saying: "At this point in the race, the best way to keep faith with those goals and ideals is to step aside and help bring our party and our country together, so tonight I am making the difficult decision to suspend my campaign for the presidency," Buttigieg said in his South Bend speech.

  • "I will do everything in my power to ensure that we have a new Democratic president come January."

Between the lines: It's not yet clear which candidate will benefit from Buttigieg's exit. He was widely perceived as sharing a moderate ideological lane with Joe Biden, the winner of the South Carolina primary, but a recent Morning Consult poll showed a tight race for second-choice among Buttigieg supporters.

  • Bernie Sanders: 21%
  • Joe Biden/Elizabeth Warren: 19%
  • Michael Bloomberg: 17%

There is speculation that Buttigieg will make a formal endorsement now that he's out of the race. Buttigieg and Biden have "exchanged voicemails" since the news broke of him suspending his campaign, according to a source familiar with the situation.

  • On the night of the Nevada caucuses, Buttigieg criticized Sanders — who came in first — for what he characterized as exclusionary politics.
  • "I believe the best way to defeat Donald Trump ... is to broaden and galvanize the majority that supports us on critical issues," Buttigieg said. "Sen. Sanders believes in an inflexible, ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats, not to mention most Americans."

The bottom line: Buttigieg was the first openly gay major presidential candidate in U.S. history, and he'll be a player in Democratic politics for a long time to come. With Sen. Bernie Sanders threatening to run away with the nomination on Super Tuesday, the former mayor's exit could significantly shake up the dynamics of the race.

This story is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House approved a $768 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2022 fiscal year in a bipartisan 316-113 vote on Thursday.

Why it matters: The annual bill, which authorizes Pentagon spending levels and guides policy for the department, would require women to register for the military draft, among other provisions.

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The five Senate Republicans who helped negotiate and draft the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill have been privately courting their Republican colleagues to pass the measure in the House.

Why it matters: House GOP leaders are actively urging their members to oppose the bill. The senators are working to undercut that effort as Monday shapes up as a do-or-die moment for the bipartisan bill.

CBC members nix border visit

A Haitian migrant carries a toddler on his shoulders today as he crosses the Rio Grande River. Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images

Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus weighed visiting the U.S.-Mexico border this week to investigate the conditions faced by Haitian migrants and protest allegations of inhumane treatment by U.S. agents.

Why it matters: It's a thorny proposition both in terms of timing and messaging. Going assures a new wave of negative headlines for President Biden amid sinking popularity. And with congressional deadlines in the coming days over infrastructure, a possible government shutdown and debt-limit crisis, Democrats can't afford to lose any votes in the House.