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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

Mike Allen, author of AM
Oct 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

White House sees Hill deal on Biden's spending plans "soon"

President Biden with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A White House official tells me talks with Democratic lawmakers on the final shape of President Biden's Build Back Better agenda "are accelerating ... [T]his progress means we can conclude negotiations soon."

Driving the news: "There’s urgency and purpose in our conversations behind bringing these game-changing economic growth plans home for families, and we feel good about the momentum," the official said.

Oct 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate to vote on Manchin-backed voting rights proposal

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, flanked by Sen. Joe Manchin. Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

The Senate will vote next week on a new voting rights bill backed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced in a letter to colleagues on Thursday.

Why it matters: The Freedom To Vote Act is the latest attempt by Democrats to counter Republican-led measures at the state level to restrict voting access. Democrats still face the same roadblock to enacting it: the filibuster.

Focus group: Child tax credit expansion divides swing voters

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Some swing voters say the most important elements to preserve in Democrats' massive social spending package are the ones that would lower prescription drug costs, reduce pollution and make childcare or pre-K free or more affordable.

Yes, but: Considerably less popular among Trump-to-Biden voters: Extending the expanded child tax credit to 2025.