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Rep. Peter DeFazio. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images

Some progressive House Democrats — and potentially 20 members of the pivotal Transportation and Infrastructure Committee — are signaling they'll vote against the Senate’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package.

Why it matters: With just three Democratic votes to spare, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and President Biden must seriously consider every possible House defection if they hope to pass the Senate package.

  • "If it comes over in that form and it’s take-it-or-leave-it, I'm going to work to defeat it," Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), chairman of the T&I Committee, told Axios.
  • "It’ll fail the House of Representatives," he said. "You know, I voted against Obama's [economic] recovery act."

Driving the news: While Senate negotiators are struggling to find a compromise on roughly $579 billion in new spending for "hard" infrastructure, Democrats on DeFazio’s committee are signaling the package might have just as much difficulty in the House.

  • 31 of the committee’s 37 Democratic members wrote Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday to ask for "a bicameral negotiation prior to the passage of any final infrastructure package."
  • "We don't want to see our work taken for granted and just be a rubber stamp for the Republicans," Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) told Axios. "I would guess there are 20 'no’s'" for the Senate bill.
  • "I am a 'no.' I am," Rep. Henry Johnson (D-Ga.) told Axios.
  • There's also a broad concern in the House Progressive Caucus, lawmakers said.

The big picture: The Senate is attempting to pass two infrastructure packages at the same time: the bipartisan framework, which focuses mostly on traditional projects like roads and bridges, and a $3.5 trillion, Democrat-only bill that includes new spending for universal preschool, free community college and Medicare expansion.

  • The bipartisan package suffered a procedural setback Wednesday when Republicans voted against proceeding to a floor vote on an actual bill, which they say isn’t ready.
  • But there's also Democratic concern with the emerging compromise, as well as what might happen to the Senate deal in the House.
  • "I voted today to move forward to consideration of a bipartisan infrastructure bill, but more must be done to guarantee my support for the legislation currently being drafted," said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Between the lines: The White House is reaching out to wavering lawmakers on DeFazio’s committee, as Politico reported, and on Wednesday afternoon, DeFazio said he received a call from White House counselor Steve Ricchetti, the president's infrastructure point man.

  • "We’re in close touch with the president’s colleagues in the House, who he deeply respects and values as core partners," said Andrew Bates, a deputy White House spokesman.
  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also traveled to DeFazio's district last week, where the chairman called it an "honor" to host him.
  • But on Wednesday, before he spoke with Ricchetti, DeFazio called White House outreach to his committee members "odd" and hinted that officials were trying to work around him.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the number of committee signatories to 31.

Go deeper

Sep 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate leaving without finalizing reconciliation bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer addresses reporters on Tuesday. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate leaders are planning to hold final votes for the week on Tuesday night so members can fly home early for Yom Kippur, three aides familiar with the talks tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senate Democrats, who returned on Monday from their monthlong recess, are planning to leave town one day before Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) "soft" deadline for the House and Senate committees to finish drafting their portions of the $3.5 trillion infrastructure reconciliation plan.

Inside Democrats' tax-hike menu

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

House Democrats will consider as much as $2.9 trillion in tax hikes for the next 10 years — mostly on the extremely wealthy and corporate America — as they scramble for ways to pay for President Biden's $3.5 trillion infrastructure and social spending plan.

Why it matters: A draft proposal from the Ways and Means Committee, which ricocheted across Washington on Sunday night, previews epic fall fights between Democrats and some of the best-armed lobbies in America.

Sep 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Sinema's secret spreadsheets

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) is negotiating the size and scope of President Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget plan armed with her own spreadsheets about the costs and tax hikes needed for each program, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: While Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is getting attention for balking at a $3.5 trillion top-line price tag, Sinema's accountant-like focus on the bottom line will be equally important to winning the votes of them and other key Democrats.