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Potential new border surge presents one more challenge for Biden administration

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.
No Change In Immigration Policy Expected As Title 42 Hits 2-Year Mark
People wait in line near the San Ysidro Port of Entry on March 22, 2022 in Tijuana, Mexico.Mario Tama / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — If it’s Thursday ... President Biden weighs releasing 1 million barrels of oil per day from Strategic Petroleum Reserve, NBC’s Peter Alexander reports. ... Biden speaks on energy prices. ... More than 50 House Republicans attend a fundraiser for Rep. Liz Cheney's, R-Wyo., opponent, per NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard. ... The NBC News poll finds 1-in-5 Americans saying they use cryptocurrency. ... And the Midterm Meter still points to “shellacking” territory for Democrats. 

But first: Just as the Biden administration tries to solve one problem (tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower gas prices), it now faces another problem (a potential surge at the border).

NBC’s Julia Ainsley reports that the administration “is preparing to lift Title 42, the public health authority the U.S. has used since the spring of 2020 to stop the spread of Covid by preventing immigrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border to claim asylum.”

Officials say the policy will be lifted on May 23. 

More from Ainsley: “U.S. officials, state governors and local officials have warned of a potential surge of more than 170,000 migrants across the border if Title 42 is lifted. Thousands of would-be asylum seekers have been waiting in camps on the Mexican side of the border while Title 42 has been in effect.”

And there’s this: “One senior Department of Homeland Security official said there is concern inside the agency that setting a date to lift Title 42 for over a month away will incentivize more would-be immigrants to leave their homes now in hopes of being allowed into the United States in May.”

Team Biden has tried to compartmentalize the situation at the border, balancing those who want better treatment of asylum seekers, versus others who want a tough-on-border-crossing approach. 

But it looks like they will soon have another problem on their hands. 

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 21 percent 

That’s the share of adults surveyed in the latest NBC News poll who say they have invested in, traded or used cryptocurrency. A plurality of that group — 42 percent — are between the ages of 18 and 34, while 34 percent are between the ages of 35 and 49. More than one-third of crypto users are people of color, and roughly one-third resided in urban areas.

Nineteen percent of Americans view cryptocurrency positively, versus 25 percent who viewed it negatively. A majority have either a neutral view or no view at all. 

To dive further into these numbers, check out the MTP blog

And tune into NBC News Now at 10:30 pm for the latest episode of “Meet the Press Reports,” which explores “the wild west of crypto currency.” 

Other numbers you need to know today

107: The number of Hispanic candidates running for the House as Republicans, a record number according to the National Republican Congressional Committee. 

13: The number of states that have laws limiting transgender participation in school sports (Oklahoma’s governor signed his state’s bill into law Wednesday). 

150: The estimated number of Capitol Police officers who have left the department since the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. That’s double the typical attrition rate, USCP chief Thomas Manger told lawmakers. 

$500 million: The amount of additional “direct budgetary aid” the U.S. will provide to Ukraine. 

More than 50: The number of House Republicans who attended a fundraiser last night for Harriet Hageman, the Republican (who is endorsed by former President Donald Trump) challenging Wyoming GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, per NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard. 

$113,000: How much the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign has been fined by the Federal Election Commission in for misreporting the purpose of expenses related to a dossier on Donald Trump, per a conservative group that filed the challenge (FEC rulings don’t become public for a month after the sides are notified). 

80,268,789: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. 

984,870: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. 

Midterm roundup: (Caw)thorn in GOP’s side

Controversial Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., drew the ire of his fellow Republicans and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy when he said in a podcast interview that lawmakers he “looked up to” had invited him to orgies and done cocaine in front of him. McCarthy suggested Cawthorn could face unspecified “consequences,” and that Cawthorn told him the claims were exaggerated.

With Cawthorn once again in the headlines, North Carolina GOP Sen. Thom Tillis endorsed one of Cawthorn’s primary challengers, state Sen. Chuck Edwards, CNN reported yesterday. And the New York Times had a dispatch from Cawthorn’s district, where some voters and party leaders are souring on the freshman congressman. 

Just how many GOP voters are turned off by Cawthorn? He’ll find out on May 17, when he needs to win with more than 30 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff. 

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Ohio Senate: Republican Mike Gibbons’ campaign is up with a new spot combatting fellow Republican Senate hopeful Josh Mandel’s attacks on him, this time with a Marine veteran accusing Mandel of exploiting military service.  

Pennsylvania Senate: Celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz took the stage with his fellow GOP Senate candidates yesterday, sharing a stage for the first time with a chief rival, former hedge fund manager David McCormick. But it was Oz who quickly became a frequent target, NBC’s Henry Gomez reports.  

Illinois Governor: The Democratic Governors Association made its first TV ad buy tracked by AdImpact, reserving $728,000 worth of airtime in the Illinois governor’s race. 

Michigan 11: The Democratic member-on-member primary between Reps. Andy Levin and Haley Stevens is sparking frustration within the party

And Louisiana legislators overrode Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ veto of the state’s new congressional map. 

Ad watch: $36

In a new ad out Wednesday, Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, criticizes his primary opponent Bryan Smith’s practices as a debt collector. 

In the ad, Simpson features a local policeman who alleges Smith’s company sued him over $36 he owed to a pediatrician shortly after his daughter was born in 2012. 

Simpson is running to keep his seat in Idaho’s 2nd congressional district, where he’s been serving since 1999. This is the second time Smith has challenged Simpson in a primary — Smith lost with 38 percent of the vote in his 2014 challenge. 

The spat is the latest in a months-long ad war between the two Republicans, who have spent a combined $176,000 on ads. Also on Wednesday, Smith began running an ad against Simpson, accusing him of being a RINO, or Republican In Name Only, and of not supporting former President Donald Trump. 

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world 

Chicago could host the 2024 Democratic National Convention.

Arizona GOP Gov. Doug Ducey has signed into law a new ban on abortions after 15 weeks with limited exception. 

President Biden received a second Covid booster shot and called for Congress to “immediately” reach a deal for more Covid relief funding.

Vice President Mike Pence is releasing a policy platform, Politico reports.