Sep 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Go time on infrastructure

Illustration of a wrecking ball swinging towards an empty podium.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The fight over President Biden's $3.5 trillion spending package begins for real on Capitol Hill at 10am Thursday as the first of several committees starts hashing out details of the mammoth infrastructure proposal.

Why it matters: The legislative marathon comes amid Democrats' internal squabbling that underscores just how tough it could be for Biden to get something across the finish line.

Driving the news: We got a peek at a big part of the bill yesterday when the House Ways and Means Committee dropped its section on child care, universal paid family and medical leave, Medicare and retirement.

  • All eyes are now on Thursday's session as that panel begins its markup.
  • House committees on small business; science, space, and technology; natural resources, and education and labor also will meet to mark up their sections of the bill.

Between the lines: Several moderate members in vulnerable districts still are uneasy about the overall price tag. Many fear the monster spending — set against fights over the debt limit and funding the government — could hurt them in 2022.

  • Many want to use this committee process to work out the ugly, intraparty negotiations between the party's centrists and more progressive members.
  • The $3.5 trillion budget resolution "wasn't the end game, it was the starting game," Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) told Axios. "We're now out in the field making the hard choices."

The latest: Axios scooped last night that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) intends to support no more than $1.5 trillion. But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) publicly hit back against Manchin's demands in a press call Wednesday morning, making clear they plan to forge ahead.

  • "That $3.5 trillion is already the result of a major, major compromise and at the very least this bill should contain $3.5 trillion," Sanders said, while Schumer added, "We're moving full speed ahead."
  • Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) told CNN: "$1.5 trillion is not going to cut it."
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