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Document obtained by Axios

President Biden is dispatching senior adviser Anita Dunn to Capitol Hill on Thursday to brief congressional Democrats on selling Biden’s economic agenda.

Why it matters: By sending Dunn, a messaging and polling expert, to brief both chambers, the White House is acknowledging that it faces both legislative and political hurdles in getting its infrastructure bills passed.

What's happening: Armed with polling data and a slide presentation, Dunn is trying to help the lawmakers explain Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda with fast answers and simple slogans.

  • She’ll urge Democrats to focus on three items in his agenda — “1. More Jobs 2. Tax Cuts 3. Lower Costs for Working Families” — according to a copy of the presentation obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: Even though a procedural vote failed in the Senate Tuesday, a group of bipartisan negotiators, led by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) on the Republican side, continues to work on turning their $579 billion infrastructure framework into actual legislation.

  • “He's a decent, honorable man, and he and I are working on trying to get this infrastructure bill passed,” Biden said of Portman Tuesday during a CNN town hall in Cincinnati.
  • With the bipartisan negotiation still proceeding, Senate Democrats are also working on a separate $3.5 trillion package on so-called human infrastructure, including billions for universal preschool, free community college and expanded Medicare benefits.
  • “If we pass the other two things that I want to get done we will, in fact, reduce inflation,” Biden said on CNN.

The big picture: Both bills face challenges in both chambers, with several House Democrats threatening to vote against the bipartisan package emerging from the Senate.

  • Republicans also warn that they may vote against any increase in the debt ceiling, setting the stage for a massive battle — with potentially all three issues colliding — this fall.

Between the lines: While Biden didn’t include changes to how Medicare renegotiates with pharmaceutical companies as a way to pay for either of his infrastructure proposals, Sen. Bernie Sanders targeted the drug industry with more than $600 billion in savings to offset his budget package.

  • The White House is now endorsing the idea that pharmaceutical companies should help foot the bill.
  • “Build Back Better Solution: Lower prescription drug costs for Americans by letting Medicare negotiate drug prices, so consumers are no longer at the whim of pharmaceutical companies.”

Go deeper: The White House is doubling down on its Zoom strategy of relying on local media to make its case to the American people, having done more than 1000 interviews:

  • “Local media continues to be one of the most trusted news sources, communicating the impact of national policy on the communities they serve.”

Read the slide deck.

Go deeper

Infrastructure deal's Democratic opposition

Rep. Peter DeFazio. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images

Some progressive House Democrats — and potentially 20 members of the pivotal Transportation and Infrastructure Committee — are signaling they'll vote against the Senate’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package.

Why it matters: With just three Democratic votes to spare, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and President Biden must seriously consider every possible House defection if they hope to pass the Senate package.

Jul 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Republicans sink key procedural vote on bipartisan infrastructure package

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

A key procedural vote meant to advance the bipartisan "hard" infrastructure package failed 49-51 on Wednesday after Senate Republicans came together to sink the measure.

Driving the news: A core bipartisan group of senators have been negotiating for months and given how close they are to a deal, senators tell Axios they do not expect this to be the last vote on the $1.2 trillion package.

Jul 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate Democrats' $4.1T Plan B

Sen. Tim Kaine. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images

Senate Democrats are weighing a Plan B if the bipartisan infrastructure negotiations fail: adding the nearly $600 billion in spending Republicans have already accepted to the $3.5-trillion plan they want to enact alone — a $4.1 trillion overall price tag.

Why it matters: The combination gets the roads and bridges both parties favor; the reconciliation package covers the "soft" climate and child care items wanted by progressives, and Republicans would have to answer why if they oppose a measure that includes all of what they want.