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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

House delays infrastructure vote after progressives balk

Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The House again delayed a vote on the president's bipartisan infrastructure bill Thursday after opposition by progressives made it clear the legislation would not pass.

Why it matters: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had told Democrats earlier in the day she would call a vote after President Biden said "my presidency will be determined" by the passage — or lack thereof — of his two massive spending bills.

Oct 28, 2021 - Health

Democrats' prescription drug collapse

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

After campaigning on health care one election cycle after another, Democrats have put forward a social policy framework that does nothing to lower prescription drug prices, expands Medicare benefits to only include hearing coverage, and temporarily builds on the Affordable Care Act.

Why it matters: The framework may be the best the party can do with razor-thin vote margins in Congress. But some health care advocates say it's unacceptable — and voters may not be thrilled either.

Biden to Dems: This is my make-or-break moment

President Biden walks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after addressing the House Democratic caucus on Thursday. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden told the House Democratic caucus Thursday "my presidency will be determined" by the votes he wants in the next week on his $1.75 trillion social safety net expansion and $1.2 trillion infrastructure package.

Driving the news: Biden made the comment, according to a source in the room, as he tried to rally support for the $1.75 trillion package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acted immediately, calling for a vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill later in the day.