A reality check for Biden's agenda

Petra Cahill
·4 min read

Good morning, NBC News readers.

The Biden administration is beginning to face the harsh realities of a split Senate, more allegations of excessive force by the officer who knelt on George Floyd and Dolly Parton gets a "dose of her own medicine" with the Covid-19 vaccine.

Here's the latest on that and everything else we're watching this Wednesday morning.

GOP 'headwinds' threaten Biden's agenda and leave Democrats with tough political choice

Just six weeks into his administration, President Joe Biden is being forced to confront the political hand he's been dealt in today's Washington.

The GOP "epiphany" he predicted would liberate Republicans to work with him once he took office hasn't materialized. Now, many of his big plans are headed for a dead end in the Senate.

That's left Democrats confronting a harsh political choice: Save the filibuster or pass Biden's agenda, NBC News' Sahil Kapur writes.

The fact that the White House was forced to pull Neera Tanden's nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget was the first major personnel defeat for Biden and a sign of his narrow path in the Senate.

Now two other packages moving through Congress this week will demonstrate Democrats' delicate dance: The Senate will take up Biden's coronavirus relief package as the House turns to a sweeping expansion of voting rights Wednesday.

But there's a vital difference between the two. The relief package isn't subject to the Senate filibuster, and it is likely to become law. The voting rights bill, like most of Biden's agenda, is on course for a fatal crash with the 60-vote threshold in the Senate.

How Biden handles the dispute could define his presidency — and his party's political future.

Wednesday's top stories

Image: People gather for a press conference outside the Hennepin County Government Center (Stephen Maturen / Getty Images file)
Image: People gather for a press conference outside the Hennepin County Government Center (Stephen Maturen / Getty Images file)

'He choked me out': Other allegations of abuse by officer who knelt on George Floyd

The trial for Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with second-degree murder in George Floyd's death, is set to begin Monday. As his day in court approaches, multiple people who had run-ins with Chauvin before his deadly encounter with Floyd have accused him of using excessive force. By Janelle Griffith | Read more

Anti-Trump Republicans are facing punishment back home. But don't call it a civil war.

Former President Donald Trump taking aim at fellow Republicans, as he did at CPAC over the weekend, is nothing new. In fact, it was a defining feature of his outsider bid for the GOP nomination in 2016. But Trump is now the party’s ultimate insider and he is reshaping the party, from the local and state level on up, in his image. By Allan Smith | Read more

The reckoning with Dr. Seuss' racist imagery has been years in the making

The decision to stop publishing six Dr. Seuss books because of racist imagery has sparked backlash from conservatives who have labeled the move another example of "cancel culture." But experts say a reckoning with his racist works is long overdue. By Char Adams | Read more

OPINION: The nefarious issue that tanked Biden cabinet nominee Neera Tanden

Tanden was pulled as Biden's nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget over "mean" tweets — and anti-Asian racism. By Miriam Yeung | Read more

Forced to melt snow for toilets, some Mississippi residents livid over city's neglect

Entering the third week of a crisis that has left much of Jackson, Mississippi, without water since freezing temperatures devastated much of the South, many locals have had it. "We can't bathe, we can't cook food, we can't wash dishes, we can't do laundry. It's tremendously difficult," said one resident. By Safia Samee Ali | Read more

BETTER: How to teach your kids good money habits that will last a lifetime

Want to teach your kids the value of a dollar? Follow these four steps. By Lauren Winn | Read more

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Best March sales 2021: How to find the best deals this spring.

One fun thing

Dolly Parton joked that she got a "dose of her own medicine" as she got her Covid-19 vaccine Tuesday at Vanderbilt Health in Tennessee, alluding to her help funding the Moderna vaccine.

The legendary singer even played with the words to her famed ballad "Jolene" to encourage people to get their own shots.

"Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine," Parton sang. "I'm begging of you please don't hesitate."

Thanks again for all your helpful comments on the new layout. And a reader pointed out we had the incorrect link on a Tiger Woods story yesterday; here is the correct one.

If you have any comments — likes, dislikes — send me an email at: petra@nbcuni.com

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Thanks, Petra