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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Conservative groups are unveiling huge ad-buys going after vulnerable House Democrats over tax increases and other revenue measures in their party's massive infrastructure spending bill, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: President Biden and Democrats have an immense amount of political capital riding on a $3.5 trillion bill facing razor-thin margins in both chambers. Conservatives are running ads targeting the House members who leaders will need to pass the measure.

Driving the news: On Saturday, the Common Sense Leadership Fund, a new Republican-aligned nonprofit group, launched what it says will be a $10 million ad campaign over 10 days.

  • The ads hit 14 House Democrats over provisions that would change rules for retirement account contributions and distributions for high-income Americans.
  • "Washington liberals want to tax your retirement funds to pay for their new trillion-dollar power grab," one of the two ads says. The other says Democrats are "raiding your retirement to pay for their power grab."
  • The group is led by former National Republican Senatorial Committee executive director Kevin McLaughlin.

Another GOP-aligned nonprofit, the Coalition to Protect American Workers, is expanding an ad-buy that hits provisions to enhance IRS tax enforcement.

  • An "army of IRS agents" will be "coming for every dime they can grab," the group warns, with footage of drones and surveillance cameras, in an ad unveiled earlier this year.
  • The coalition, which is led by Marc Short, former Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, plans to expand its campaign into the seven figures and run two new 30-second spots, the group tells Axios.
  • It's hitting six Democrats — five in the House and one in the Senate — with the IRS ad and two others focused on other tax hikes in the bill and efforts to finance electric vehicle infrastructure. It says that will boost Chinese battery manufacturers.

Between the lines: Both groups are targeting moderate House Democrats who've expressed misgivings about the $3.5 trillion spending bill, including the new revenues that will be required to pay for it.

  • If the centrists balk at specifics — or the scope — of a bill with huge spending aimed at expanding the social safety net, the dual-track strategy the president is pursuing with congressional leaders could collapse.
  • Progressive are demanding the centrists support the $3.5 trillion, Democrat-only bill before the progressives vote to pass the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package that's already passed the Senate.
  • The House centrists are convinced they have an agreement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to vote on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill by Sept. 27.
  • Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) the House majority whip, raised doubts about that Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," saying: "Sometimes, you have to kind of stop the clock to get to the goal."

The bottom line: Outside conservative groups know Biden's agenda hangs by a tread and that they only need to spook a handful of centrist members — some of them in swing districts — to cause major complications.

Go deeper

The lawmakers playing up infrastructure the most

Expand chart
Data: Quorum; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Both of the Democrats' vulnerable Arizona senators have been some of the most active lawmakers in hyping "infrastructure" in their press releases, newsletters, tweets and Facebook posts.

Why it matters: Democrats are hopeful their successes on roads, bridges — and, possibly, expanding the social safety net — will lessen losses they're expecting in the 2022 midterms. The social media activity has been tracked since President Biden signed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package into law.

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.

Commerce Secretary presses for chips funding

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will call on House lawmakers to pass a bill boosting funding for semiconductor manufacturing during a speech in Detroit on Monday.

Why it matters: A global chip shortage is slowing production of everything from appliances to vehicles. The Senate in June passed a bill that includes $52 billion for domestic semiconductor manufacturing, but the House has yet to act.