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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.

Updated 32 mins ago - Health

GOP Rep. Clay Higgins says he has COVID for second time

Rep. Clay Higgins during a 2019 House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) Sunday evening that he and his wife have contracted COVID-19 for a second time and "this episode is far more challenging."

Driving the news: "Becca and I had COVID before, early on, in January 2020, before the world really knew what it was," he wrote in a Facebook post, confirming his son also has the coronavirus — which he described as a "biological attack weaponized virus."

Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

📺: The Olympic events to watch today; Olympics opening ceremony ratings plunge

🏊: Athlete spotlight — Katie Ledecky adds to Games career medals haul; Caeleb Dressel leads Team USA to gold.

🏀: U.S. Men's basketball suffers first Olympic loss since 2004

🤖: The robot Olympics

🚨: Heat wave brings scorching temperatures to Tokyo Olympics

🎤: Meet the new faces of NBC's Olympics coverage

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage