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Photo: Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House is privately telling lawmakers the climate portion of President Biden's roughly $2 trillion social spending plan is "mostly settled" and will likely cost more than $500 billion, two sources familiar with the talks tell Axios.

Why it matters: A price tag of $500 billion to $555 billion is a huge number and, if it holds, would likely be the single biggest component of the sweeping package. It also isn't far off from the roughly $600 billion proposed when the bill was expected to cost $3.5 trillion.

  • The significant investment underscores the level of commitment Democrats are making to climate change mitigation.

What we’re hearing: Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), a key progressive involved in the Senate's climate talks, also told Axios the bill will cost at least $500 billion.

  • "Everything else is getting a massive haircut, but this isn't," Schatz said.
  • "This will be, just as a matter of fact, the biggest climate bill in human history. At least half a trillion dollars. That's a pretty good story to tell at the Conference of Parties (COP26)," he added.

The 2021 United Nations climate conference convenes next week in Glasgow, Scotland, and President Biden is attending.

  • As Axios' Andrew Freedman notes, having a big climate portion is essential for getting the broader social safety net expansion passed in the House. Given climate is a key priority among progressives, a $500-billion-plus price tag should help.

Driving the news: The remainder of the climate section still under negotiation focuses on how to spread around the $150 billion initially slated for the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP).

  • That program was nixed due to opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). He chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which will determine how to spend the leftover funds.
  • Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, told Axios he expects negotiators will devote that money to energy transmission and storage.
  • The White House hosted roughly a dozen climate advocacy group leaders on Monday to discuss this section of the bill, a source familiar with the meeting told Axios.

Details: The following provisions are expected to be included in the bill, according to a source familiar with the negotiations:

  • New grants and loans to support industrial sector decarbonization, in addition to expanding relevant tax credits to support this goal.
  • Manufacturing credits to help grow domestic supply chains for solar, offshore, and onshore wind. Some of those credits will be targeted to the auto and energy communities.
  • Expanding access to rooftop solar and home electrification.
  • Expanding grants and loans to rural co-ops to boost clean energy and energy efficiency.
  • Expanding grants and loans in the agriculture sectors to help them shift to clean energy providers with fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

The big picture: The COP26 is a huge motivation for Biden and Democratic leaders pushing for a deal this week on the overall framework for his social spending bill.

  • If Biden walks into Glasgow without an agreed-to framework, it would undercut his credibility in global climate talks with world leaders.
  • He'd get an added political boost if the House also joined the Senate in passing the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill before he heads overseas.

Go deeper

Democrats pushing Biden to suspend federal gas tax

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Centrist Democrats are pushing President Biden to suspend the federal gas tax as a way of showing concern about inflation.

Why it matters: It's the strongest response yet from Democrats as Republicans make inflation a key part of their 2022 campaign messaging — but so far it's largely coming from candidates, not party leaders in Washington.

Nov 30, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Congress sprints to meet crush of deadlines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congressional leaders have been pushing off vital action for months — and a lot of it will catch up with them in December, which begins Wednesday.

Driving the news: Funding for the federal government is set to expire at midnight on Friday. There are also consequential deadlines related to the debt limit, President Biden's agenda and annual actions like voting on the National Defense Authorization Act.

43 mins ago - Health

First known U.S. case of the Omicron variant identified in California

PhotoL Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The first known U.S. case of the Omicron variant was detected in California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Wednesday.

Driving the news: The confirmed case was detected in a traveler returning from South Africa who was fully vaccinated and has mild symptoms, according to the CDC.