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John Podesta. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Progressives are trying to sell President Biden's infrastructure initiative with new cable TV ads arguing clean energy projects will immediately create thousands of jobs.

Why it matters: White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggested Sunday that Biden will split his potential $3 trillion package in two — investments in infrastructure, followed by billions more for the “caregiving economy.” The first political fight may be over what qualifies as infrastructure.

  • Climate Power, an environmental group with close ties to the White House, will spend an additional $2 million during the next month on national cable and digital ads arguing major clean energy spending has bipartisan support.
  • The ads will be part of an overall $10 million effort.
  • “Investing in clean energy and infrastructure is the best, fastest and most effective way to put people to work and address the climate crisis,” John Podesta, a member of the group's advisory board, writes in a memo outlining its plans.

Our thought bubble: "There may be resistance to making the infrastructure bills too climate-heavy, unless the public views clean energy spending as a win/win for jobs and the environment," writes Axios energy and climate reporter Andrew Freedman.

Between the lines: White House officials know there’s a limit to the number of “shovel-ready” jobs in any infrastructure package.

  • Progressives are preparing for that coming battle.
  • Their argument is that green infrastructure will give the economy short- and long-term boosts: first, with thousands of new jobs to actually build projects, and then with a round of hiring in an economy catering to clean energy.

The big picture: By dividing Biden’s Build Back Better agenda into two legislative proposals, the White House is trying to suggest the first one won’t engender much controversy.

  • “Roads, railways, rebuilding them — that's not a partisan issue,” Psaki said on "Fox News Sunday."
  • In reality, many Republicans do support traditional surface transportation projects, but some have little interest in spending billions on charging stations and new electricity grids.

By the numbers: Like Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, Democrats insist the president’s infrastructure proposals have national bipartisan support, even if House and Senate Republicans have signaled their opposition.

  • Some 67% of voters say the federal government should be doing more to modernize American infrastructure, according to a new poll for Climate Power and Data for Progress.
  • 73% say it is time for Congress to invest in infrastructure.

Between the lines: More than two-thirds of voters would be more likely to support the Build Back Better plan if it prioritizes oil and gas workers for new clean energy jobs, and if they have the chance to unionize.

The bottom line: Democrats insist any laid-off workers in the oil and gas industry will be able to find employment in the green energy economy.

  • That’s a hard argument to make in Trump country.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Mar 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Why the climate crisis will intensify the border crisis

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The influx of migrants to the U.S. southern border has taken over the news — and climate change, among other factors, ensures it won't be going away.

Why it matters: The migration of tens of millions of people, exacerbated by a changing climate, will be one of the mega-trends of the 21st century. For both humanitarian and political reasons, wealthy countries like the U.S. will need to figure out a way to handle a flow of people that may never stop.

100+ corporate executives consider freezing donations over laws curbing voting access

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

More than 100 corporate executives and leaders gathered on a zoom call Saturday to discuss ways to combat controversial voting bills that would restrict voting access that are being considered across the country, per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: American corporations flexed their advocacy muscles earlier this month when more than 100 companies signaled their opposition to Georgia's new voting law, inciting the wrath of GOP leaders, including former President Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

7 hours ago - World

Defense Sec. Austin stresses U.S. commitment to Israel's security amid growing Iran tensions

Issei Kato/Reuters/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin arrived for his first visit in Jerusalem amid nuclear talks in Vienna and growing tensions between Israel and Iran.

Why it matters: Austin met his counterpart Benny Gantz and will meet later with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss Iran and regional security issues.