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Biden battles new crises as honeymoon fades

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: Joe Biden
President Joe Biden responds to questions from the media after delivering remarks about the Colonial Pipeline hack, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, on May 13, 2021.Evan Vucci / AP

WASHINGTON — It’s Day 118 of Joe Biden’s presidency, and we can safely say that the honeymoon phase for the new president is now over.

There’s been days of violence in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians, with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reporting on increased calls for Biden to step up U.S. involvement to end the crisis.

“The only leader in the world that we believe that can stop this is President Biden,” said Nihad Awad, the national executive director of Council American-Islamic Relations, on “Today.”

There are the continued gas shortages along the East Coast, although Coastal Pipeline has resumed its operations after the cyberattack that shut down its network.

There was that disappointing jobs report earlier this month, as well as indications of higher prices and inflation.

And on top of it all, there was the confusing CDC guidance on masks, with the government saying vaccinated Americans can now shed their masks indoors and outdoors in most cases — but with less helpful guidance for other Americans.

Here was yesterday’s “Meet the Press”:

Chuck Todd: "If you live in a mixed vaccinated household and you're fully vaccinated, do you go out — what do you do?"

CDC Dir. Rochelle Walensky: "You know, I think that that's going to be family by family. People are going to have to decide whether their children will understand that if they're younger than the age of 12 that they're going to have to wear a mask if the rest of the family is not."

We don’t know if it’s just been a bad week for Biden or the beginning of a bad turn.

But now that we’re beyond 100 days, the going is definitely getting tougher.

What to watch in politics over the next month

Here are some of the key dates and stories we’ll be following over the next month:

  • Thursday, May 20: Third Democratic debate in the Virginia governor's race.
  • May 25: Anniversary of George Floyd’s death.
  • June 1: N.M. 01 special election; also fourth and final Democratic debate in Virginia.
  • June 8: Democratic primary in Virginia governor's race; also primaries in the N.J. governor's race.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

198: The Palestinian death toll in Gaza as the current Israeli-Palestinian crisis stretches into its second week.

406 percent: The surge in lumber prices since last year, as the Biden administration grapples with a jump in consumer prices.

33,102,342: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 88,483 more than Friday morning.)

590,611: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 2,125 more than Friday morning.)

273,545,207: The number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S.

34.3 percent: The share of Americans who are fully vaccinated.

Tweet of the day

The latest in Virginia

In the Democratic contest for governor in Virginia, former state Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy is up with a new TV ad airing in the Richmond and Norfolk media markets.

“I’ve spent my life helping people beat the odds,” she says in the ad. “We can do so much better than the status quo, to lift up every last one of us. That’s why I’m running for governor.”

Meanwhile, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan will announce a new endorsement in Richmond at noon ET.

Shameless plug

Be sure to tune into NBC’s Nightly News’ focus tonight on Orlando, Fla., where Lester Holt will interview local restaurant owners about the city’s comeback, as well as theme park and cruise ship employees. Additionally, “Nightly News” will look at the affordable housing crisis, speaking with residents who are struggling and the efforts to help them

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Here’s what you need to know about the current Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

Liz Cheney took aim at both Kevin McCarthy and Elise Stefanik over the weekend.

Monthly child tax credits will start hitting Americans’ bank accounts in mid-July.

NBC’s Jonathan Allen checks in on two key Michigan House Democrats who are prepping for 2022.

The Biden administration is dealing with a set of unexpected crises as Republicans paint the country as engulfed in chaos.

But Republicans are acknowledging that Biden isn’t really shaping up to be a boogeyman for the midterms.

Will Justice Stephen Breyer stay or go?