Capitol Hill braces for negotiations on mammoth infrastructure proposal

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.”

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