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Democrats' all but doomed Senate abortion vote threatens to divide the party

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Chuck Schumer, Richard Blumenthal, Kirsten Gillibrand, Mazie Hirono
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer calls on a reporter, accompanied by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., left, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, right, after a news conference about the vote to codify Roe v. Wade on May 5, 2022.Jacquelyn Martin / AP

WASHINGTON — If it’s Tuesday ... West Virginia and Nebraska hold their 2022 primary contests. ... President Joe Biden contrasts his plan to fight inflation with that of Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla. ... Biden separates Ukraine funding from Covid spending — after originally tying them together. ... Abortion rights supporters protest outside Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s home. ... And we’re hitting the road in Pennsylvania.

But first: Senate Democrats are once again headed for a show vote — this time on abortion — that risks dividing their party, depressing their base, and looks all but certain to be defeated.

“Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer officially set into motion the procedure [Monday] afternoon to have a key procedural vote on the Democratic bill to provide federal protections for abortion rights on Wednesday. The vote’s timing is still TBD, but is expected in the afternoon on Wednesday, and is still expected to fall short of the 60 votes needed to pass,” NBC’s Frank Thorp and Julie Tsirkin report.

More: “Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, the only potential Republican supporter of the Democratic bill to provide federal protections to abortion rights, says she will vote 'no' when the Senate votes to proceed to the measure on Wednesday.”

And: “Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., now becomes the only senator who we do not know how he will vote, telling NBC News, “I’m going to wait until caucus [Tuesday] and see what they have to say.”

Of course, Democrats don’t have good options here after the leaked draft opinion raised the likelihood of a decision that axes Roe vs. Wade. And they don’t want to let the decision come this summer without taking some action.

But this comes after other show votes Democrats have taken — on the minimum wage and voting rights — that have divided their party, depressed their base and failed in the 50-50 Senate.

And it looks like history is going to repeat itself.

Data Download: The number of the day is … $4.1 million

That’s how much has been spent on ads in the GOP primary in West Virginia’s 2nd District, per the ad-tracking firm, AdImpact. Voters head to the polls there today to choose between two GOP congressmen, David McKinley and Alex Mooney, in the first incumbent vs. incumbent primary of the year.

Mooney’s campaign has spent nearly $1.5 million on the airwaves, while McKinley’s campaign has spent $1.2 million. Outside groups have also jumped into the race, with Club for Growth Action and School Freedom Fund dropping a combined $931,000 to bolster Mooney. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Defending Main Street super PAC have spent a combined $423,000 supporting McKinley.

Both candidates reference former President Donald Trump in their closing ads, although Mooney has Trump’s endorsement. In Mooney’s closing spot, a narrator says, “President Trump warned us about RINOs, sellouts and known losers. David McKinley proved him right,” knocking McKinley for supporting the bipartisan infrastructure package and a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

McKinley’s latest ad on the airwaves goes after the Club for Growth’s spending, with a narrator saying, “Mooney and his Washington special interest group are spending millions lying about David McKinley. Just like they did about President Trump.”

Other numbers you need to know today:

Nearly 6,000: The number of Ukrainians who have been approved by the Department of Homeland Security to stay in America with sponsors, the first of a program the Biden administration hopes will bring 100,000 Ukrainians to America.

Nearly $40 billion: The size of the Ukraine aid package that President Biden has called on Congress to immediately pass, prioritizing it over new Covid relief funding.

31: The number of House Democrats who aren’t running for re-election, now that Rep. Kai Kahele, D-Hawaii, has made his gubernatorial bid official.

218 percent: The increase in the two-week average of daily Covid cases in Wyoming, the state with the highest increase according to NBC News analysis.

Tweet of the day

Midterm roundup: Voters gonna vote

It’s Primary Day in Nebraska and West Virginia. We already told you about the two big races where former President Donald Trump’s endorsement is on the line — those are the key races to keep an eye on tonight.

The only other competitive primary is in Nebraska’s 2nd District, where Democrats have repeatedly failed to knock off GOP Rep. Don Bacon (the new lines are Biden +6). State Sen. Tony Vargas has significantly outraised his primary opponent, mental health counselor Alisha Shelton, and Vargas is the only candidate who has spent money on TV advertising, per AdImpact.

The GOP primary in Nebraska’s 1st District was shaping up to be a barnburner between then-Rep. Jeff Fortenberry and state Sen. Mike Flood. But Fortenberry was convicted in March on federal charges of concealing material facts and making false statements to federal investigators, prompting him to resign.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Nevada Senate: During Monday’s debate, Republican former Attorney General Adam Laxalt wouldn’t commit to voting for or against Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to lead the party, saying he would “vote for the most conservative person that runs for leader.” Also in the race, the Democratic-aligned Somos PAC is placing $1.1 million in ad buys between May 15 and June 6, per AdImpact.

Pennsylvania Senate: North Dakota GOP Sen. Kevin Cramer is backing Mehmet Oz’s Senate bid. And conservative commentator Kathy Barnette is experiencing a late surge in the GOP Senate primary, per Politico.

Wisconsin Senate: The Democratic-aligned Majority Forward is booking $2.2 million in TV time between now and the end of the month, per AdImpact.

New York Governor: DemocraticGov. Kathy Hochul is booking $823,000 in TV time over the next week alone, per AdImpact.

Maryland-06: President Biden held a Democratic National Committee fundraiser Monday night at the home of Rep. David Trone. At the fundraiser Biden warned that the right to vote may be in jeopardy and suggested Democrats could pick up four Senate seats, per Politico.

Texas-28: Jezebel is reporting on a 2019 lawsuit filed by a former staffer claiming sex and pregnancy discrimination after being fired from Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar’s office (Cuellar’s office didn’t comment and the former staffer’s lawyer cited confidentiality mandated by settlement terms). Meanwhile, Cuellar’s primary opponent, Jessica Cisneros, is up with a new ad encouraging people to vote for “change” during this month’s runoff.

Wyoming At-Large: Donald Trump, Jr., stars in a new ad supporting Harriet Hageman, the Trump-backed primary challenger to GOP Rep. Liz Cheney. The spot is the first TV ad from Wyoming Values PAC, per Fox News.

Ad watch: Who’s closer to Trump?

Viewers tuning into TV in Pennsylvania this week might be a little confused about who former President Donald Trump endorsed in the GOP Senate primary race for the Republican nomination for Senate.

Though Trump endorsed TV personality Mehmet Oz, former hedge fund manager David McCormick released an ad yesterday that included a video of Trump praising McCormick. The ad shows footage of Trump saying, “Dave, I want to congratulate you. You’ve served our country well in so many different ways.” The video appears to be from when Trump was still in the White House, as he is sitting in the Oval Office in the tape.

The ad goes on to display multiple pictures of McCormick and Trump together, before McCormick appears alone and says, “You know why he said that? Because it’s true.”

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

The Senate unanimously passed a bill that would give the family of Supreme Court justices security similar to that of the family of members of some executive and legislative branches.

The bill comes as abortion rights activists have been protesting outside of conservative Supreme Court Justices’ homes.

The dozen GOP-held House seats that Biden would have carried in 2020 represent Democrats’ best chances to save their majority, Politico reports.

Allan West, the former Florida congressman turned Texas GOP chairman and unsuccessful gubernatorial hopeful, is trying to unseat National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, per The Reload.