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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Progressive Democrats in the House are privately discussing how they can push President Biden for a second spending package substantially bigger than the $3 trillion over a decade floated in various news outlets this week.

Why it matters: These members are attuned to the climate group Sunrise Movement's argument that "the crises we face demand at least $1 trillion per year over the next decade," two sources familiar with the conversation told Axios.

  • Sunrise's extremely ambitious proposal — at least $10 trillion — could quickly emerge as a benchmark for House progressives to rally around.
  • "Progressives feel like this package will define Biden's presidency," one source said, "and that $3 trillion over 10 years feels low, and it may not meet the scope of what we need to do — in particular on climate."

The strategy was discussed during a phone call Tuesday among members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Several raised concerns about the size of Biden's next spending package, which the president plans to unveil Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

  • They regard the reported scope of the proposal — which some moderates such as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) already consider at the far reaches of acceptability — as too small to meet the moment, the source said.
  • "He should be bold with his opening offer."

Between the lines: Biden's next spending bill will involve a longer, messier and more complicated fight between the ideological factions of the Democratic Party.

  • In the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that just passed, there was agreement among Democrats from the beginning it was going to be entirely deficit-financed.
  • But the next package will likely be more of a running battle. Biden has said he wants to hike corporate and high-income earners' taxes to pay for much of the new spending — which sets up a fight between progressives and moderates.
  • And the ambitions for the proposal keep expanding — everything from meat and potatoes infrastructure (roads, bridges, ports), to broadband and climate initiatives.
  • There are also proposals for substantial investment in social welfare, including expansion of the child tax credit, universal pre-kindergarten, free community college and other measures.

Bottom line: "The parameters of the battle will not be locked in at the beginning," said the source familiar with the House progressives' internal discussions.

  • Progressives will view Biden's announcement next week as an opening framing, "and then Congress is going to have a lot more agency in this fight because it's going to be longer. Congress won't have to act by a certain date."

Go deeper

Biden's New Deal: Re-engineering America, quickly

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden recently held an undisclosed East Room session with historians that included discussion of how big is too big — and how fast is too fast — to jam through once-in-a-lifetime historic changes to America.

Why it matters ... The historians’ views were very much in sync with his own: It is time to go even bigger and faster than anyone expected. If that means chucking the filibuster and bipartisanship, so be it.

Mike Allen, author of AM
Mar 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Inside Biden’s private chat with historians

Biden during a virtual meeting with the Irish prime minister on St. Patrick's Day. Photo: Erin Scott-Pool/Getty Images

Hosting historians around a long table in the East Room earlier this month, President Biden took notes in a black book as they discussed some of his most admired predecessors. Then he said to Doris Kearns Goodwin: "I'm no FDR, but … "

Why it matters: He'd like to be. The March 2 session, which the White House kept under wraps, reflects Biden's determination to be one of the most consequential presidents.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Mar 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Democrats want Biden to restore Obama-era climate change policy

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Some Capitol Hill Democrats are pressing President Biden to re-instate Obama-era carbon emissions and mileage rules for passenger cars — and then go much further.

Driving the news: 10 Senate Democrats and dozens of House Democrats, in letters yesterday, call for standards through 2025 that at least match prior rules weakened under President Trump.