Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

The White House is downplaying Afghanistan in outside-the-Beltway events during the August congressional recess, hoping voters will pay more attention to President Biden's big spending plans.

Why it matters: Democrats privately fear political blowback, even though the White House insists voters aren't talking about the Kabul calamity.

What they're saying: White House senior adviser Neera Tanden didn't mention Afghanistan once when Axios asked her how much the events of the past week will affect what Biden can accomplish on the Hill.

  • "We developed our plan around August recess in July," she said. "We planned for a cadence of multiple events a week around 'Build Back Better' and infrastructure and we have been operationalizing that plan and will continue to do so."
  • "So we’re going to continue that work, and this agenda is important to the public."

Between the lines: The Atlantic's Peter Nicholas argued in a piece published Friday titled, "Biden Is Betting Americans Will Forget About Afghanistan," that the White House is "relying on Americans’ notoriously short-term memory."

  • The White House insists that Democratic lawmakers are excited to have Cabinet members hosting events in their districts around infrastructure, climate and energy, health care and the economy.
  • But communications strategies can only do so much amid the reality and images emerging from Afghanistan.

Behind the scenes: Since joining the White House in May as senior adviser to Biden, Tanden has kept a low profile. But her role, after losing a confirmation fight to be Biden's budget director, is setting her up to have outsized power in helping sell the president's agenda.

  • When Tanden helped create the White House plan for selling Democrats' agenda during the August recess, Afghanistan wasn't among the policy priorities to discuss with voters. It still isn't.

Aides are tracking whether opposition surfaces at vulnerable House Democrats' town halls and district events this month.

  • "There are numerous components of 'Build Back Better' that are incredibly popular amongst Republicans," Tanden told Axios.
  • "It’s challenging for them to create the kind of energy they did in past eras," she added, pointing out that the White House is seeing nothing like the emotionalism around the Affordable Care Act during former President Obama's first term.

According to internal White House documents obtained by Axios, aides have tracked 18 town halls or events with Democratic lawmakers this month.

  • At least six were virtual or by phone. So while the White House says there's been "no organized opposition" from angry Republicans, as seen in past August recesses, that would be hard to know.
  • An event with Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) allowed only written questions — and those weren’t documented. Instead, a White House document notes that the senator "discussed infrastructure."

Go deeper

Oct 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Democrats brace for staredown over paid family medical leave

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senior House Democrats are braced for battle with the Senate over whether paid family medical leave — a key priority for progressives — will be included in President Biden’s final budget reconciliation bill, lawmakers and aides tell Axios.

Why it matters: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has indicated he wants to cut the program to reduce the bill's price tag. “Paid family and medical leave must be in the final package,” Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, told Axios on Monday.

Democratic Reps. Doyle, Price announce they won't seek re-election

Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and David Price (D-N.C.) announced Monday they will not seek re-election in 2022, the latest to make such an announcement as Democrats look to protect a thin House majority in 2022.

Why it matters: The growing number of retirements adds more uncertainty to next year's election, in which Democrats are already facing an uphill battle due to redistricting and the difficulty of retaining the majority when the party in power also controls the White House.

Oct 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Manchin's massive means test

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is offering progressives a trade: He'll vote for their cherished social programs if they accept strict income caps for the recipients, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Manchin’s plan to use so-called means-testing for everything from paid family medical leave to elder and disabled care would drastically shrink the size and scope of the programs. It also would bring a key moderate vote to the progressive cause.