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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The fight over President Biden's $3.5 trillion spending package begins for real on Capitol Hill at 10am Thursday as the first of several committees starts hashing out details of the mammoth infrastructure proposal.

Why it matters: The legislative marathon comes amid Democrats' internal squabbling that underscores just how tough it could be for Biden to get something across the finish line.

Driving the news: We got a peek at a big part of the bill yesterday when the House Ways and Means Committee dropped its section on child care, universal paid family and medical leave, Medicare and retirement.

  • All eyes are now on Thursday's session as that panel begins its markup.
  • House committees on small business; science, space, and technology; natural resources, and education and labor also will meet to mark up their sections of the bill.

Between the lines: Several moderate members in vulnerable districts still are uneasy about the overall price tag. Many fear the monster spending — set against fights over the debt limit and funding the government — could hurt them in 2022.

  • Many want to use this committee process to work out the ugly, intraparty negotiations between the party's centrists and more progressive members.
  • The $3.5 trillion budget resolution "wasn't the end game, it was the starting game," Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) told Axios. "We're now out in the field making the hard choices."

The latest: Axios scooped last night that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) intends to support no more than $1.5 trillion. But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) publicly hit back against Manchin's demands in a press call Wednesday morning, making clear they plan to forge ahead.

  • "That $3.5 trillion is already the result of a major, major compromise and at the very least this bill should contain $3.5 trillion," Sanders said, while Schumer added, "We're moving full speed ahead."
  • Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) told CNN: "$1.5 trillion is not going to cut it."

Go deeper

Biden meeting with key House Democrats

President Biden. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Biden is hosting two separate in-person meetings with moderate and progressive House members at the White House on Tuesday as infrastructure negotiations continue, White House officials told Axios.

Why it matters: This is the latest in the president’s efforts to appease the more volatile parts of his party’s coalition as Democrats wrangle over how to cut his social spending proposal down from $3.5 trillion to closer to $2 trillion.

Oct 17, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Congress begins yearend sprint

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The House and Senate face an onslaught of deadlines key to fulfilling members' campaign promises and keeping the government afloat as they return from recess this week.

Why it matters: The next few weeks will be pivotal to enacting President Biden's agenda — and determining how the Democratic Party fares in the midterm elections.

22 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats brace for staredown over paid family medical leave

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senior House Democrats are braced for battle with the Senate over whether paid family medical leave — a key priority for progressives — will be included in President Biden’s final budget reconciliation bill, lawmakers and aides tell Axios.

Why it matters: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has indicated he wants to cut the program to reduce the bill's price tag. “Paid family and medical leave must be in the final package,” Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, told Axios on Monday.