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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Members of the House are forming alliances and gearing for battle while waiting for the Senate to work out final details of an infrastructure deal.

Why it matters: The lower chamber has been on the sidelines during its two-week recess, yet representatives have been watching senators carefully in anticipation of their own debate on the measures that will be shipped their way.

Between the lines: Potential coalitions and red lines are being formed around several issue items:

  • Immigration: As more calls come in to include immigration reform in one part of the infrastructure package, moderate Democrats are wary of anything going beyond the most basic reform — like providing security for so-called Dreamers.
  • Climate change: Some progressives are eager to see a number of climate reform measures, including the repeal of fossil fuel subsidies or investments in electric vehicle infrastructure.
  • These red lines or lobbying coalitions are especially important to members who fear progressive goals will die or be left out of the debate in the Senate.

What to watch: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) could alleviate the concerns by guaranteeing she will put some hot-ticket items up for a vote if they aren’t included in a budget reconciliation bill passed by the Senate.

  • That would be a step toward ensuring some cohesion within her caucus.

What we're watching: Money is no longer the issue.

Aside from something like a $6 trillion price tag on a reconciliation — as suggested by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — moderates don't seem as concerned about the total cost of any infrastructure spending as much as they care about deliverables within the final package.

  • Deliverables — roads, bridges, local pork — win elections.
  • Democrats, particularly those preparing for tight midterm races, want infrastructure spending approved with plenty of time for money to be sent to their districts, so shovels can get into the ground as quickly as possible.
  • And with such a tight margin in the majority, those moderates in swing districts see a danger in being the member who killed the bill by voting against such deliverables over a principled argument about their cost.

What they're watching: Aides and members alike are focused on the process.

  • “It’s a weird feeling,” one House aide told Axios. “There’s this big, big thing coming down the highway and we’re just waiting for it to hit us.”
  • If both the bipartisan and reconciliation bills come to the House, progressives are hoping for speedy back-to-back votes on both bills.
  • Members talk on the floor, and progressives want to minimize any potential discussion among moderates that could tank the reconciliation bill — likely the second of the two votes.

Be smart: The Problem Solvers Caucus will hold a news conference Wednesday to renew its call for an "expeditious" stand-alone vote on the bipartisan bill.

Go deeper

GOP burned by BIF

Rep. Blake Moore, who complains, "I think there's been irreparable damage done." Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

As Democrats haggle over the final details of their nearly $2 trillion social spending bill, Republicans are venting frustration — with key moderates still wavering over whether to back the companion $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Why it matters: If progressives don't actually drop their demand to have the social bill passed before they agree to a vote on the infrastructure bill, the $1.2 trillion roads and bridges package remains in limbo without Republicans backfilling support for it.

Oct 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden plan expected to include at least $500B for climate

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.

Oct 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Plan B for soaking the rich

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Millionaires be warned: Democrats are looking for creative ways to tax the wealthiest Americans to pay for their $1.75 trillion social safety net expansion, lawmakers and aides tell Axios.

Why it matters: The nation’s 700 billionaires may have dodged a bullet when Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) effectively killed a plan to tax just their unrealized capital gains. But Manchin has told colleagues he's open to hitting all the country’s richest families and individuals with higher taxes.