Senate negotiators make a breakthrough on tougher immigration and asylum laws. Biden makes a risky decision in planning his Iran counterattack. And an artist set off controversy over a “sexualized” illustration of Jesus.

Here’s what to know today.

A breakthrough on a deal for tougher immigration and asylum laws

The “full text” of the immigration package that will include aid funding for Ukraine and Israel will be released early as today and “no later than Sunday,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said yesterday. Schumer’s proclamation came after key Senate negotiators said they struck a tentative deal to enact tougher immigration and asylum laws, marking a significant breakthrough on a politically explosive issue. 

National Guard soldiers stand on the banks of the Rio Grande at Shelby Park on Jan. 12 in Eagle Pass, Texas.Brandon Bell / Getty Images

The deal would take a three-pronged approach to mitigating chaos at the border by limiting asylum options for those outside the U.S., raising the standard for migrants at the border to qualify for asylum and speeding up the processing of claims, cutting off avenues of appeal and ending “catch and release.” 

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But the pact is in jeopardy before Senators have even had a chance to read the text. A steady bombardment of opposition from Donald Trump is endangering GOP support. Some Republicans also worry that it could give President Joe Biden a victory as he campaigns for four more years in the White House.

All the while, negotiators have been playing whack-a-mole with a steady stream of claims about the contents of the bill on conservative media. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona rebuked comments from Republican hard-liners, saying they were “factually incorrect.” 

Voting on the bill is expected next week. 

Read the full story here.

More coverage of immigration and the border

  • A key House Republican said he’s a “solid” no on impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, raising questions about whether the House GOP has the votes to do so.
  • The border standoff between Biden administration and Texas officials is frustrating residents in Eagle Pass, Texas, where a 47-acre public park has been taken over by Gov. Greg Abbott’s forces.
  • New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said the migrants who reportedly attacked NYPD officers in Times Square should be deported.

Biden counterattack against Iran comes with several risks

American forces are expected to hit targets in countries outside Iran in response to the drone strike by Iranian-backed militants which killed three U.S. service members and injured more than 30, U.S. officials say. The action is part of a counterattack plan from President Joe Biden that is expected to unfold over multiple days, or possibly weeks, U.S. officials said. The operation would be Biden’s most forceful response yet to militias that have launched more than 150 attacks against U.S. forces since the war between Israel and Hamas started in October. 

Complicating Biden’s decision to launch a counterattack are his attempts to negotiate the release of American hostages in Gaza and efforts to stay out of a deeper Middle East conflict. Plus, it’s an election year. “It is probably the most important moment in his presidency,” said a former U.S. official.

More coverage of conflicts in the Middle East: 

  • Israel’s military is set to push its Gaza offensive farther south to Rafah, where more than half of the enclave’s population of 2.3 million is sheltering, after claiming to have “dismantled’’ Hamas in Khan Younis. Meanwhile, diplomats are awaiting a response from Hamas on the framework of a deal for a temporary cease-fire. The militant group gave an “initial positive confirmation,’’ Qatar’s foreign ministry said. Follow live updates.
  • Biden issued an executive order targeting Israeli settlers in the West Bank following the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old American citizen last month.
  • Biden will attend the dignified transfer today of the three American soldiers killed in Jordan this week. 

These women support abortion rights. They’re still voting for Trump.

A group of women in Pennsylvania who backed former President Donald Trump in the last election and support at least some abortion rights said in focus group interviews that they don’t see their views on abortion as a barrier to voting for him again this year. For many of these women, abortion isn’t a decisive issue in the general election. “I know I’m a woman, and I should have more of a say about it, but honestly it doesn’t matter that much to me as it might matter to someone else,” one woman said. 

The participants refused to hold Trump responsible for the end of Roe v. Wade, though he appointed three of the five Supreme Court justices who backed the decision. Only three of the 15 women considered Trump at least partially responsible for the court’s decision, and many don’t believe that he would sign a future federal ban on abortion into law. 

The findings, which are part of NBC News’ Deciders Focus Group Series, offers a look into how a group of potential swing voters are engaging with Democrats’ key issues ahead of the 2024 election.

Mother of Michigan school shooter testifies

Jennifer Crumbley, the mother of the teen shooter who killed four students and injured several others at Oxford High School in November 2021, testified yesterday in her involuntary manslaughter trial. Though she says she regrets her son Ethan’s actions, she said she “wouldn’t have” parented her son any differently. Her testimony also touched on a family trip to the gun range the weekend before the shooting and an argument she and her son got into the night before the attack.

Since the trial opened last week, prosecutors have argued that Crumbley knew of her son’s deteriorating mental health and isolation and knew that he had access to guns, but cared more about her horses than his concerns. Crumbley’s lawyers have suggested it was Ethan’s school that failed to fully inform her and her husband of their son’s capacity for violence.

A stealthy, potentially deadly cholesterol

About 64 million Americans are genetically predisposed to extremely high levels of a type of cholesterol, but they’re almost always completely unaware. The cholesterol, called lipoprotein(a), or Lp(a), causes plaque buildup in arteries that can elevate a person’s risk for deadly heart attacks and strokes, as well as blood clots. Cardiologists say there should be wider testing for Lp(a), with some now adding screening as part of their preventative care for patients

Unlike low-density lipoprotein, also known as LDL or “bad” cholesterol, Lp(a) is entirely genetic. This means that no amount of diet or exercise affects Lp(a) levels, and there is no effective treatment for it. For many families across the country, Lp(a) has wreaked havoc on their lives.

Today’s Talker: Controversy over a ‘sexualized’ Jesus poster…

A painting of Christ by Spanish artist Salustiano Garcia.
A painting of Christ by Spanish artist Salustiano Garcia.Cristina Quicler / AFP – Getty Images

… erupted in Spain — and on social media — with Spanish conservatives calling the image offensive for depicting Jesus as “sexualized and effeminate.” A group that organizes the main Easter week events in Seville commissioned artist Salustiano García months ago to create a painting to promote the celebration. The final product was revealed last weekend to applause, the artist said, but it didn’t take long for backlash to set in.

Politics in Brief

Tech CEO hearing: The Kids Online Safety Act has momentum after this week’s hearing with big tech leaders, parents say. But critics fear the bill would go too far in restricting speech.  

Lloyd Austin apologizes: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he did not properly handle the communication of his cancer diagnosis and treatment to President Joe Biden, Pentagon staff and the public.

Capitol riot aftermath: A Jan. 6 rioter who has called incarceration “awesome and very fun” may be seeking to delay his sentencing because he likes being locked up, federal prosecutors alleged.

Nevada politics: Donald Trump’s name isn’t on the state primary ballot, much to the anger and confusion of his supporters. Nevada election and party officials say there’s no error, but many don’t realize Trump will be competing in the state’s other voting contest, a Republican caucus, two days later.

WikiLeaks leaker sentenced: A former CIA officer convicted of one of the most damaging data breaches in the agency’s history, and also of possessing child sexual abuse images, was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison.

Staff Pick: A field trip to the birthplace of American slavery

Images of students on a field trip where slaves were first brought to the colonies in Virginia; polaroids of students with words about what they learned on the trip; a portrait of their teacher, Edwin Allison.
Kyna Uwaemefor NBC News

Black students at Granby High School in Norfolk, Virginia, recently took a field trip to the birthplace of American slavery: Fort Monroe, which is just about 20 minutes away. Instead of sad, the students said they walked away feeling empowered — and espoused that African American history is a course all students should take. To kick off NBC BLK’s Black Heritage Month coverage, I accompanied Edwin Allison’s AP African American studies class to the historic site. — Curtis Bunn, NBC BLK reporter

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In Case You Missed It

  • A New Hampshire town manager is stepping down after an LGBTQ art display set off a local controversy, rebukes from a state senator and a suspicious package from an angry resident. 
  • It’s so cold and snowy in Alaska that fuel oil is thickening and roofs are collapsing, as Anchorage surpasses 100 inches of snowfall.
It’s so cold and snowy in Alaska that fuel oil is thickening and roofs are collapsing
A moose crosses a residential street in the snow on Feb. 1, 2024, in Turnagain, Alaska. Loren Holmes / AP
  • An unruly JetBlue Airways passenger who had brought a bottle of liquor onboard was restrained by multiple flyers and turned over to law enforcement upon landing in New York City from London, the airline said.
  • Justin Timberlake told concertgoers in New York City that he’d like to apologize “to absolutely f—ing nobody,” days after Spears said she was sorry about comments made in her memoir.
  • A 17-year-old in California is accused of orchestrating hundreds of swattings across the country targeting schools, HBCUs, FBI agents’ homes — and even his own house.
  • Music from stars like Taylor Swift, Drake, and Ariana Grande is no longer available on TikTok. Here’s why. 
  • The WWE plans to make some big changes, including shifting its live show to Netflix. But the shift is happening amid a notable absence.

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