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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The White House is trying to build support for clean energy and climate pieces of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure outline at a time when activists are calling the plan far too modest.

Why it matters: The White House faces growing urgency to corral progressive lawmakers now that President Biden has abandoned threats to veto the plan unless a much larger, Democrats-only package moves too.

Driving the news: The sales pitch ramped up on several fronts Monday.

  • Biden wrote an op-ed touting clean energy and climate provisions while acknowledging it's missing some "critical" climate pieces that he "intends" to pass under the Democrats' separate reconciliation plan.
  • Two top White House aides, in a public memo, highlight the plan's $49 billion for public transit, $15 billion for electric vehicle infrastructure and buses, and $73 billion in grid investments, among various other provisions.
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki opened her briefing by claiming the plan would make "unprecedented strides in climate and clean energy leadership" — while also emphasizing that Biden wants to go further.

The big picture: The efforts aim to promote much more than environmental provisions. Biden and his aides are talking up the measure's spending on road, broadband, ports and more.

  • But Democrats who prioritize global warming are among Biden's needed constituencies in the fraught climb to get a deal through both chambers of Congress.
  • On Monday activists with the Sunrise Movement, joined by progressive lawmakers including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman, rallied near the White House under the banner of "no climate, no deal."
  • Even beyond Sunrise, which is on the green movement's left flank, more Democratic-aligned groups like the League of Conservation Voters and Evergreen Action are pushing for big measures in a reconciliation plan.

Yes, but: White House officials are trying to navigate all kinds of political crosscurrents.

  • The infrastructure bill and the reconciliation package both face huge political hurdles (and neither bill even exists yet). Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has powerful leverage over the bipartisan framework, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.
  • The White House and Capitol Hill Democratic leaders face a thicket of competing interests — on both spending levels and policy — even within their party's ranks as they craft a separate reconciliation package.
  • A Wall Street Journal story last night explored concerns among Democratic lawmakers in natural gas-producing states about proposals to curb reliance on natural gas.

What's next: Biden will pitch the infrastructure plan in a Wisconsin speech later today.

Go deeper

By the numbers: Blue and red walls

Expand chart
Data: AdImpact; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Democratic groups are flooding the airwaves — and outspending conservative organizations — to support President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, according to data compiled by AdImpact.

The big picture: Liberal and conservative groups have spent a combined $56 million on TV and digital advertising since Sept. 1. The liberals' goal: convincing lawmakers to back the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package aimed at combating climate change and expanding the social safety net.

Oct 6, 2021 - Politics & Policy

McConnell proposes debt limit deal

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is offering Democrats a deal that could help the country avoid defaulting on its debt.

Driving the news: The proposal includes two options, which McConnell laid out in a statement on Wednesday: allowing Democrats to fast-track the suspension of the debt limit using the partisan budget reconciliation process, or raise the limit to a specified figure through December.

Biden: "Real possibility" Dems may change rules to raise debt ceiling

President Biden in Howell, Michigan, on Tuesday. Photo: Elaine Cromie/Getty Images

President Biden told reporters Tuesday night that it's a "real possibility" Senate Democrats could change the chamber's filibuster rules to overcome Republican obstruction to raising the debt ceiling, per a pool report.

Why it matters: Overhauling the rules could help Democrats "stave off a potential, calamitous default roughly two weeks before a critical fiscal deadline," the Washington Post notes.