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Progressives aren't fighting Biden’s crime, immigration stances

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.
President Biden Speaks At 2023 International Association Of Fire Fighters Legislative Conference
President Biden in Washington on March 6, 2023.Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — If it’s Thursday ... President Biden travels to Philadelphia, where he’ll deliver remarks on the administration’s budget proposals. ... Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is hospitalized after tripping at a DC hotel, NBC’s Liz Brown-Kaiser reports. ... Senate votes 81-14 to overturn D.C.’s crime overhaul; measure now heads to Biden’s desk. ... Why No Labels gaining ballot access in Arizona is potentially a big deal. ... And it’s Joe Manchin vs. the Biden White House.

But first: President Joe Biden has punched at his left on crime and immigration. 

He opposed D.C.’s crime overhaul. He’s limited the ability of migrants claiming asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. His administration has considered restarting family detention for migrants. 

And it’s all come with little resistance from progressives and rank-and-file Democrats — outside of a press releases opposing the moves, or a rare speech from the Senate floor.

Take yesterday’s Senate vote overturning D.C. crime overhaul. After Biden said he supported the GOP-backed resolution opposing D.C.’s reforms to its criminal code, 33 Senate Democrats and independents who caucus with the party joined him, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Fourteen Senate Democrats opposed Biden by voting no on the resolution, with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. delivering these remarks on the Senate floor: “By rejecting this law today, by voting against this, people, in the name of being tough on crime, are actually the people that are preventing a city from better protecting itself.” 

But Booker was the exception, not the rule. (Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., delivered a similar speech.)

There’s no doubt that Biden is re-positioning himself for re-election (also look at today’s White House budget for another Biden roadmap for 2024).

There’s also no doubt that Democrats are bracing for a presidential race that will be far from easy to win, no matter who wins the GOP presidential nomination. 

And there’s no doubt that progressives are entering the election cycle with a level restraint and pragmatism — given the realities of 2024. 

Headline of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 51,465

That’s how many votes Libertarian Party nominee Jo Jorgensen won in Arizona in the 2020 presidential race, roughly five times greater than Biden’s margin of victory in the battleground state. 

It’s a number that’s worth remembering now that the group No Labels, which promotes bipartisanship, has gained access to the ballot in Arizona to potentially run a third party presidential candidate under the “No Labels Party.” The group has also has gained access to the ballot in Colorado, and is working to do so in other states. 

Other numbers to know:

$3 trillion: The amount by which President Biden’s budget proposal aims to cut deficits over the next decade, Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young tells NBC News’ Carol E. Lee. 

10: The number of Ukrainian regions that were shelled in a new rocket attack, the AP reports

$175: The amount that each Democratic TV advertiser paid to garner one vote in Nevada’s Senate race in the 2022 midterms, the race with the highest cost-per-vote last year, according to an AdImpact analysis.

80.8%: The increase in Norfolk Southern’s accident rate from 2013 to 2022, according to Politico.

$54 million: The price tag of Walgreens’ contract with the state of California, a contract the state says it won’t renew after the company said it would not dispense medication abortion in multiple states where it is legal. 

65,000: The number of recruits the Army hopes to take in this year, up from the 45,000 the military branch took in last year.

4 million: The number of four-year-olds in the U.S., all of whom would receive free preschool under President Biden’s fiscal 2024 budget plan

2: The number of Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who voted to advance former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s nomination to be ambassador to India.

3: The number of bills introduced by Florida GOP legislators on Tuesday that would expand the state’s existing Parental Rights in Education law, which was dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics last year.  

Eyes on 2024: Manchin vs. Biden White House

As Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., remains mum on whether he’ll run for re-election in an overwhelmingly Republican-leaning state, he’s had three separate, high-profile disagreements with the Democratic White House this month alone. 

The most recent example came on Wednesday, when he announced he would vote against the administration’s pick to lead the Internal Revenue Service over his disagreements with the administration. 

“At every turn, this Administration has ignored Congressional intent when implementing the Inflation Reduction Act,” Manchin said in a statement. “While Daniel Werfel is supremely qualified to serve as the IRS Commissioner, I have zero faith he will be given the autonomy to perform the job in accordance with the law and for that reason, I cannot support his nomination.”

The statement came days after Manchin announced he’d vote against Gigi Sohn’s nomination to the Federal Communications Commission, calling on the White House to “put forth a nominee who can bring us together, not drive us apart.” (Sohn withdrew her nomination hours later.)

And just days prior, Manchin blasted an internal memo from the Department of the Interior that appears to have been posted accidentally, leading the senator to say that “this Administration continues to ignore Congressional intent and instead panders to environmental groups at the expense of shoring up American energy security and keeping Americans safe.”

While Manchin’s electoral plans may still be opaque, the message he’s been sending to the administration this month is anything but.  

In other campaign news: 

Inching toward a run: Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., has started hiring staff for a potential presidential run, although he hasn’t decided if he’s definitely jumping into the race, per The State. 

DeSantis the governor: The Washington Post delves into Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “broad embrace of the often coercive power of the government to push back on the private decisions of corporations, banks, academies of higher learning and the national media.”  

Not showing him the money: Unlike the aides for other former presidents, Donald Trump’s former top campaign staffers and White House advisers have largely not donated to his campaign or political committees throughout his political career, per The New York Times. 

One-on-one with Gallego: Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., is speaking openly about his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder that stem from his service in the Iraq War as he runs for Senate, the Washington Post reports. 

Speaking of the Arizona Senate race: Republican Karrin Taylor Robson, who lost last year’s GOP gubernatorial primary to Kari Lake, is expected to meet with the National Republican Senatorial Committee on Thursday as she weighs a run for Senate, per Politico.

Montana man: Another potential GOP candidate to watch in Montana’s Senate race is former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy, who owns an aerospace company, per the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter, which breaks down key Senate GOP primaries to watch. 

Best laid plans: NBC News’ Jane C. Timm reports that Fox Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch discussed the idea of having top Fox primetime hosts declaring “something like ‘the election is over and Joe Biden won’” in an email the day before the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. 

Let the spending begin: Fox News reports that Republican presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy’s campaign is planning a “seven-figure media blitz” as he looks to gain traction in the presidential primary field. 

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

A review by the Department of Justice found that the Louisville Metro Police Department and the Louisville/Jefferson County Metro government engaged in a pattern of unconstitutional behavior.  

The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog warned that Iran is enriching uranium close to weapons-grade levels.

In a Senate hearing on Thursday, Norfolk Southern’s CEO plans to tell Congress he’s “deeply sorry” for a February train derailment that has wreaked havoc in East Palestine, Ohio.

The New York Times reports on how Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. John Fetterman is balancing his Senate work with his treatment for depression.