A U.S. soldier stands guard at Kandahar Air base in Afghanistan. Photo: Shah Marai / AFP / Getty Images

The assistant secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, Randall Schriver, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday that the U.S. will spend an estimated $45 billion on the war in Afghanistan this year, the Hill reports.

Why it matters: The U.S. has been in Afghanistan for almost 17 years; President Trump announced a new strategy months ago, but there has been skepticism about whether or not it will force the Taliban into peace talks.

  • Schriver broke down the 2018 spending, per the Hill: roughly $13 billion for U.S. forces, $5 billion for Afghan forces, $780 million for economic aid, and the remaining funds for logistical aid.
  • Sen. Jeff Merkley was skeptical the Taliban would be interested in "a political settlement," as they "control more territory than they did since 2001," according to the Hill. The Taliban is currently operating in 70% of Afghanistan.
  • Sen. Rand Paul said the $45 billion is "just being thrown down a hatch in Afghanistan," per the Hill.

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Updated 37 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court blocks Alabama curbside voting measure

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Wednesday evening blocked a lower court order that would have allowed voters to cast ballots curbside at Alabama polling places on Election Day.

Whit it matters: With less than two weeks until Election Day, the justices voted 5-3 to reinstate the curbside voting ban and overturn a lower court judge's ruling designed to protect people with disabilities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted COVID relief bill McConnell urges White House not to strike stimulus deal before election.
  2. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  3. Health: New York reports most COVID cases since MayStudies show drop in coronavirus death rate — The next wave is gaining steam.
  4. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots — San Francisco public schools likely won't reopen before the end of the year.
  5. World: Spain becomes first nation in Western Europe to exceed 1 million cases.

U.S. officials: Iran and Russia aim to interfere in election

Iran and Russia have obtained voter registration information that can be used to undermine confidence in the U.S. election system, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced at a press conference Wednesday evening.

Why it matters: The revelation comes roughly two weeks before Election Day. Ratcliffe said Iran has sent threatening emails to Democratic voters this week in states across the U.S. and spread videos claiming that people can vote more than once.

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