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The virus and the border have shaped Biden's first three months

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: President Joe Biden in the Rose Garden of the White House on April 8, 2021.
President Joe Biden's proposal sets aside $753 billion for all national defense programs across the government, a 1.7 percent increase over fiscal 2021.Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Two completely different stories have largely defined President Biden’s first three months in office.

One: His success (for the most part) in dealing with the challenge that dominated his presidential campaign — beating back the coronavirus.

And two: The situation that worsened after he took office, and that he finally called a crisis over the weekend — the developments at the border.

When Biden became president on Jan. 20, the U.S. was seeing, on average, about 200,000 new daily Covid-19 cases and 3,000 related deaths per day.

Now those numbers have dropped to about 70,000 new cases (still a high number, experts say) and some 700 fatalities per day.

In addition, nearly 900,000 Americans were vaccinated per day when Biden took office; now it’s more than 3 million per day.

And the government announced over the weekend that half of American adults have received at least one Covid-19 shot.

The polling largely confirms these statistics: Last week’s Quinnipiac poll found 64 percent of Americans approving of Biden’s handling of the coronavirus, and it was 62 percent in CNBC’s poll.

But the numbers are in the other direction when it comes to the situation at the border.

When Biden first took office, the government reported 78,000 border encounters/apprehensions, with more than 5,800 unaccompanied children crossing the border.

But in March, there were a record 18,000-plus unaccompanied minors crossing the border.

And Biden’s poll numbers regarding the border?

Just 29 percent of American approve of his handling of the issue in both the Quinnipiac and CNBC polls.

A crisis and then a flip-flop

Speaking of the border and the immigration, there seem to be two explanations for the Biden administration’s reversal on capping the number of refugees.

Explanation No. 1: The administration doesn’t want to alienate its left flank, and it recognizes — and responds to — criticism from progressives.

Explanation No. 2: The administration has so bungled its handling of immigration and the border — see that 29 percent approval rating — that it’s lost its entire bearing on the issue, especially as the immigration debate has moved well beyond DREAMers and comprehensive immigration reform.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

15: The number of organizations — including the NAACP, the SEIU and the American Federation of Teachers — behind a $1 million TV ad buy urging passage of a federal voting rights bill.

63 percent: The share of Americans who support term or age limits on Supreme Court justices, per a new Reuters-Ipsos poll.

About half: The number of American adults who have received at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot.

31,810,509: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 176,713 more than Friday morning.)

571,230: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 2,012 more than Friday morning.)

209,406,814: Number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S.

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

12: The number of days left for Biden to reach his 100-day vaccination goal.

Biden holds another round of bipartisan talks on infrastructure

At 1:15 p.m. ET in the Oval Office, President Biden meets with Democratic, Republican and independent lawmakers to discuss his infrastructure/jobs bill.

The attendees include:

  • Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo.
  • Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.
  • Sen. Angus King, I-Maine
  • Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah
  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.
  • Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo.
  • Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla.
  • Rep. Carlos Giménez, R-Fla.
  • Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas
  • Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif.

Meanwhile, Vice President Harris delivers remarks on the administration’s infrastructure/jobs push in North Carolina.

What to watch for in politics over the next month

Here are some of the political stories and events we’re going to be watching over the next month:

  • April 24: Louisiana-02 runoff.
  • April 29: Biden's 100th day in office (starting with Jan 20).
  • April 30: Biden’s first full 100 days in office.
  • May 1: Texas-06 special election.
  • May 6: Second Democratic Virginia governor debate.
  • May 8: Virginia GOP convention.
  • May 20: Third Democratic Virginia governor debate.

Tweet of the day

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Here’s how Michigan Republicans are trying to circumvent a veto of voting restrictions by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Reps. Paul Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene are now distancing themselves from the “America First” caucus that first surfaced Friday.

Former President George W. Bush is weighing in on the GOP’s immigration rhetoric.

The Washington Post reports on the fallout from the labor movement’s defeat at that Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama.

The Indianapolis shooting is prompting new calls for examination of red-flag laws.

Republicans are doubling down on criticism of Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke.