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By Petra Cahill

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Phew. Congressional leaders say they reached an agreement in principle to avert another partial government shutdown. Southern Baptist church leaders are confronting a sex abuse scandal. And space could be the battlefield of the future.

Here's what we're watching today.


Lawmakers reach tentative deal to avoid another shutdown

Congressional negotiators said they reached a deal that would fund further border security — but not a border wall.

The deal would include $1.375 billion for border barrier enhancements, like steel slats and other "existing technologies," not the $5.7 billion for a concrete wall President Donald Trump has sought, according to multiple sources.

Senate and House negotiators from both parties said details still needed to be worked out and that their staff are going to be "working feverishly" to pull it all together.

Congress faces a Friday night deadline to pass the new appropriations package. Any deal they come up with still needs to pass the House and the Senate, and get Trump's signature.


Big businesses promised wage hikes from Trump's tax cuts. What actually happened?

Hundreds of companies issued bonuses just after Trump's 2017 tax law passed to show they were sharing the $150 billion cash windfall from the newly enacted tax legislation.

But since the initial fanfare, little has improved for average American workers.

Overall wage hikes have not materialized for many. In fact, many corporations are using savings from the 2017 tax law to continue to buy back billions in stock.


Space could be a battlefield in a U.S. conflict with China and Russia, report finds

A new U.S. intelligence report warns that both China and Russia are investing in weapons that could be used against U.S. satellites and assets in space.

"Space is now a war-fighting domain like the land, sea and air," a U.S. defense official said. "We can't view space as a sanctuary from attack."

A computer-generated artist's impression depicts approximately 12,000 objects in orbit around the Earth. ESA / AFP - Getty Images file

Southern Baptists grapple with sex abuse allegations

An in-depth investigation by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News found that 220 Southern Baptist pastors, ministers, deacons, volunteers, Sunday school teachers and others were found guilty of sexually abusing churchgoers over 20 years.

"The thing that makes me saddest is that we didn’t do it ourselves," said Pastor Wade Burleson, who for years has called on the Southern Baptist Convention to create a database to track church workers accused of sexual abuse.

"That's why you need a free press in America."


Showdown at the border

Trump and possible Democratic presidential contender Beto O'Rourke waged dueling rallies in El Paso, Texas, last night.

O'Rourke called El Paso "one of the safest cities in the United States of America...safe, not because of walls — but in spite of walls."

Meanwhile Trump — standing in front of two large banners that read "Finish The Wall" — told the crowd, "Walls work."

"We know that walls do not save lives. They end lives," former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke said during his rally a short drive from Trump's. Paul Ratje / AFP - Getty Images

Plus


THINK about it

February is Black History Month in America. Maybe it is only fitting, then, that the past (few) weeks have focused so much attention on the myth of color blindness in America, Qasim Rashid writes in an opinion piece.


Live BETTER

Creative last-minute Valentine's Day gift ideas that will strengthen your relationship.


One inspiring thing

"I am strong": From a lobbyist to a man who can bench 405 pounds, the National Down Syndrome Society is celebrating 40 years with a video celebrating people who defy stereotypes.

Jon Stoklosa has been powerlifting since he was 11, even though people told his parents that it wasn't safe for Jon, who has Down syndrome.National Down Syndrome Society

Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

If you have any comments — likes, dislikes — drop me an email at: petra@nbcuni.com

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Thanks and have a good day, Petra