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Sen. Kyrsten Sinema Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) are privately advising the nine House centrist lawmakers trying to force Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hold a quick vote on the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure deal, lawmakers and aides tell Axios.

Why it matters: The two moderates who've stirred the biggest frustrations and held the most sway in their party over the infrastructure negotiations are helping allies in the House to stake out — and defend — their centrist position.

  • They're offering encouragement and advice on how to negotiate with the White House and congressional leadership.
  • Their behind-the-scenes support also indicates the degree to which Manchin and Sinema have prioritized getting the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal to final passage and in front of Biden for his signature.

The big picture: The conversations are bolstering House centrists' resolve. Since publicly demanding last Friday that Pelosi first bring the infrastructure bill to the floor before considering a larger package through a $3.5 trillion budget plan, the nine lawmakers have been subject to a combination of private scorn and public pressure.

  • Pelosi referred to their tactics as “amateur hour” in a leadership call earlier this week, Politico reports.
  • On Tuesday, the White House released a statement endorsing Pelosi’s approach, expressing “hope that every Democratic member supports this effort to advance these important legislative actions.” Pelosi quoted from that statement in a “Dear Colleague” letter she sent to reiterate her position.
  • Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, and Louisa Terrell, the head of legislative affairs, Shuwanza Goff, the House liaison, as well as Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, have been contacting lawmakers, urging them to vote for the rule.
  • So far, the nine lawmakers are withstanding pressure and remain committed to their strategy.

Between the lines: Both Manchin and Sinema have longstanding relationships with some of the centrist lawmakers including members of the "Problem Solvers" who worked together on COVID-19 relief bills in 2020.

Go deeper: The nonpartisan group "No Labels" is launching a six-figure ad by on national cable to give some air cover to the nine lawmakers.

  • "This unbreakable nine is showing America that we can still do amazing things," says the ad's narrator.

What we're hearing: One possible way out of the standoff is for Pelosi to promise the centrists a vote on the infrastructure deal by the end of September.

  • That could give them assurances their infrastructure bill would receive a vote without having to wait for the Senate to decide on specifics of the $3.5 trillion bill that are far from complete.

Go deeper

Rashida Tlaib warns of “corporate Dems” killing Biden bill

Rep. Rashida Tlaib speaks with Axios' Jonathan Swan. Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) told "Axios on HBO" she's "fearful" of what will happen to President Biden's big social spending bill in the Senate because "corporate Democrats" — including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) — are serving special interests.

Driving the news: "I know that they've been influenced and guided by folks that don't have the best interests of the American people in mind," the Squad member said.

VP touts infrastructure bill in Columbus visit

Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks at the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 189 union hall in Columbus on Nov. 19. Photo by Kyle Mazza/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

When it comes to local infrastructure needs, Vice President Kamala Harris had a high-profile example at the ready.

  • "Here in Ohio, there are nearly 5,000 miles of highway that need to be repaired. Highways like Interstate 70 and 71."
  • "I know what I'm talking about," she added with a laugh after a brief pause.

"Midnight is approaching” to pass voting rights protections

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Defenders of democracy in America still have a slim window of opportunity to act. But time is ticking away, and midnight is approaching," according to more than 150 top scholars of U.S. democracy in a new push to temporarily suspend the Senate filibuster and pass voting rights protections on a simple majority vote.

Driving the news: Their unified front comes amid a short break in the legislative action on Capitol Hill, with the start of the Thanksgiving recess and after the House passage of President Biden's "Build Back Better" social spending package.