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President Joe Biden departs from a House Democratic caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden, meeting with House Democrats on Capitol Hill on Friday, indicated they must further delay a final vote on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and scale back his $3.5 trillion social spending package to around $2 trillion range if either is to pass, lawmakers told Axios.

Why it matters: Biden made clear he wants to keep the two packages linked together and that he is optimistic there can be an agreement.

  • "It doesn't matter if it's six minutes, six days or six weeks, we're going to get it done," the president told reporters on his way out of the meeting.
  • Two lawmakers told Axios they anticipated it could be another month before both bills can be passed.
  • While moderates don't want to wait on the infrastructure vote and progressives don't want to spend less on the social programs, the pause likely moves the fragile Democratic coalition closer to ultimately securing major portions of the president's agenda ahead of the 2022 midterms.

Between the lines: This was Biden's first-ever meeting with the full House Democratic caucus since becoming president.

  • His appearance comes as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been working to balance the different demands of the caucus and navigate a path forward toward compromise.

What they're saying: “He is the President of the United States and he says that he wants to get this done, and he basically linked them together,” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), a moderate Democrat, told Axios.

  • “He basically said it's not going to be $3.5 (trillion). It could be $1.9 trillion-$2 trillion. The president threw out some numbers, so I assume there was a reason why.”
  • The president discussed a range that went as high as $2.3 trillion, other sources in the room said.
  • “The president said we're gonna get both bills done, and in order to get the rest done, we have to get this agreement on the reconciliation,” Rep. Pramila Jaypal (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus, told reporters.
  • "We've got to figure out kind of where our red lines are," Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), also progressive, told Axios, adding that she didn't anticipate votes today or over the weekend.

While the $2 trillion range is far less than what progressives wanted, it's more in line with what Senate holdouts Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) might agree to accept.

What's next: Progressive Democrats are now hosting their own caucus meeting to plot their next steps.

  • Members also told Axios they expect the House to pass a 30-day extension as early as today to fund transportation programs that expired at midnight.

Go deeper

Democrats skip labels to overcome party divide

Mandela Barnes listens to fellow Democrat Tammy Baldwin, who he hopes to join in the U.S. Senate. Photo: Darren Hauck/Getty Images

Democratic Senate hopeful Mandela Barnes has been endorsed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), who represent vastly different wings of their party.

Why it matters: The Wisconsin lieutenant governor is one of several Democratic candidates this year who aren't embracing or eschewing labels like "progressive" or "moderate." Instead, they're campaigning with a foot in both worlds and demonstrating a new mold — and potential electoral path — for their embattled party.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement.

State of play: Authorities had initially declined to release the name of the 44-year-old suspect or identify the hostages, all adults, though police chief Michael Miller confirmed that one of those held was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who leads the congregation.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron — Deaths are climbing as cases skyrocket.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: West Virginia governor feeling "extremely unwell" after positive test — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers — America struggles to keep schools open
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker