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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Like the quiet planning by presidential candidates for their hoped-for transition to office, House Democrats are already choreographing their opening moves if — as looks likely — they get the gavel back in the midterm elections.

The big picture: The strategy is being driven by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, the likely speaker if her party regains the majority. The first three legislative packages will cover health-care costs, $1 trillion in federal infrastructure investment, and ethics and lobbying reform.

What they're saying:

  • "We're ready from Day 1 to fight for the people," said an aide involved in the planning. "These priorities took months and months of conversation with members to boil down."
  • The top Democrats on House committees are prepping to launch oversight hearings and investigations of the Trump administration, and have begun the initial steps of coordinating their opening topics to avoid conflicts and overlaps.
  • Democrats are playing down talk of impeachment. But depending on the contents of Robert Mueller's report, that could well become a transcendent issue for the new Congress.
  • Democratic leaders have been clear that impeachment isn't happening unless it's bipartisan — that Mueller's findings are definitive, and Republicans voice support for the i-word.

The three legislative packages are also centerpieces of House Democrats' "For the People" national campaign theme, distilled from the larger "A Better Deal" platform.

  • Dems say these are all issues where Trump has promised action and failed to deliver. (Remember "drain the swamp"?)

Between the lines: Polls show that health care and wages are voters' top concerns.

  • Health care would be divided into two buckets: cost containment, including reining in premiums, and lowering the cost of prescription drugs.
  • The $1 trillion in infrastructure spending would be sold as a way to boost jobs and wages.

The reform package would include efforts at "voter empowerment," including voting rights and campaign ethics.

  • Democrats promise sweeping lobbying reform, rivaling changes made in 2007, when they last took back the majority.
  • House Dems also plan to change some of their in-house rules. Per Pelosi, Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts is soliciting ideas from members.
  • And Pelosi, despite opposition from some progressives, is committed to reviving the "pay-go" (or pay as you go) rule she had during her previous run as speaker, requiring that new spending be paid for by budget cuts or revenue offsets.
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Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
54 mins ago - World

Globetrotting climate envoy Kerry makes Biden team’s first visit to China

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

John Kerry became the first senior Biden administration official to touch down in China this week. He's also been the first to sit down with a string of world leaders.

Why it matters: Kerry may no longer be secretary of state, but you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise after a glance at his calendar. The unusual role could make Kerry a foreign policy force multiplier for President Biden, or potentially a source of mixed messages.

Chicago releases video of fatal police shooting of 13-year-old boy

A small memorial is seen on April 15 in Chicago where 13-year-old Adam Toledo was shot and killed by a police officer in March. Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/Getty Images

Chicago's independent police review board on Thursday released the body camera footage of an officer's fatal shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo on March 29.

The big picture: Tension continues to rise nationwide in response to police misconduct and racism. Thursday's footage release comes days after officer Kim Potter fatally shot Daunte Wright in a traffic stop near Minneapolis, where the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former police officer accused of murdering George Floyd, is ongoing.