The House Democrats at most risk of losing their seats in the 2022 midterm elections are urging their colleagues not to jettison a set of popular programs from President Biden’s economic and social spending package, warning that failing to deliver on these promises to voters could pave the way for Republicans to regain control of Congress.

These vulnerable Democrats argue that expanding Medicaid into certain states, allowing the government to negotiate prescription drug prices, expanding Medicare coverage and providing for paid family leave are key to both motivating Democrats to vote in the midterm elections and to winning over the small but key group of independent voters who could otherwise back their Republican challengers.

“No normal person can understand why we can’t negotiate for drug prices,” Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) said. “So what they see when we can’t pass that year after year is greed, and I have no problem saying I’m frustrated with the other side of the aisle, but in this case, my own party because that one is just a simple thing we could do.”

All four policies are at risk of being left out of the final bill due to opposition from centrist Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), whose votes are key on every issue given the 50-50 Senate, as well as a small group of Democrats in both chambers opposed to giving Medicare too much authority to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.

The members interviewed for this article are considered “frontliners” by the party — a group of 32 members who leaders believe are most at risk of losing their seats and therefore get more attention from the party’s campaign arm.

Lawmakers who face the most competitive reelection contests often find their needs being closely tended to by leaders who know they will need to hold those seats if the party is to remain in the majority. But the fact that vulnerable House Democrats are finding themselves potentially losing out on key priorities underscores the extent to which Manchin and Sinema are driving so much of the decision-making, a source of endless frustration for House Democrats, particularly those whose electoral prospects hang in the balance.

“I don’t think there’s a damn thing that we can do about certain people in the Senate,” Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) said.

As Democratic leaders continue to hash out final details in search of an agreement on the economic plan, members and their staff are beginning to strategize how they will sell Biden’s Build Back Better agenda to voters as midterm campaigns heat up in the coming months.

They are focusing on what positive spin they can put on what the bill includes, particularly to voters who may be upset about what is not in the package.

Because paid family leave is not expected to be in the final bill, Democrats in tight races plan to focus on the child tax credit, universal prekindergarten and child care subsidies to emphasize what the legislation will do to help families.

Some aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private deliberations, said their bosses plan to tout these provisions as a tax cut for the American family to counter Republican claims that Democrats are seeking to raise taxes and are fueling inflation that is stretching family budgets.

While some members were initially surprised by House Democratic leaders’ decision to side with progressives to include more programs in the bill for less time to bring down the cost of the initial $3.5 trillion proposal, several vulnerable Democrats said this could be politically beneficial because it would allow them to warn voters about what they might lose if Republicans win the House.

“I’ve long said that as long as we can get some of this good stuff in for a year, two years, three years, I’m okay with that because I really do believe they’re going to prove to be so popular as programs that the American people are going to demand that,” Wild said.

Rep. Colin Allred (D-Tex.) echoed that sentiment, noting that even if paid family leave — which he benefited from as the first male member of Congress to take it while serving in office — is not included, Democrats will have introduced and popularized the concept among the base.

“I think we have set a baseline and shown that American people support this and that’s important because that can be built on next time. So I think the next fight gets easier because of that,” he said.

Many vulnerable Democrats are hoping for a deal soon on Biden’s economic package so that the House can send a bipartisan infrastructure bill that has already passed the Senate to the president for his signature. Roughly 40 House progressives have said they will not support the infrastructure bill until they are certain the economic and social spending bill can pass both chambers. House Democrats can only afford to lose three votes to pass legislation through their razor-thin majority.

Even a detailed framework for the economic package would give Democrats the ability to promote specific policies back home and to combat Republican attacks that they are going on a socialist spending spree.

Many of the frontliners are warning the White House and congressional leaders that they will need a comprehensive effort to sell the legislation to voters. Driving their worries is a lesson many said the party should learn from 2010 when Democrats were walloped in the midterm elections because the party failed to successfully counter Republican attacks on the Affordable Care Act.

“We have not put a strong foot forward on messaging,” Slotkin said after seeing how protesters attacked the Democrats’ plan when Biden visited her district earlier this month. “Even now I think the average American doesn’t know — I don’t know — what’s officially in it. People need to know what they’re getting for all this money and that means reversing the paradigm and talking about what we are going to do instead of what we’re not going to do.”

Frontliners are hoping to flip the script on Republicans by pointing out that the bill will be paid for and not add to the deficit, even though negotiators continue to hash out how to raise enough tax revenue to finance the bill.

While Manchin and Sinema have been the subject of much ire on the House side, some vulnerable members and aides privately acknowledged that the duo’s push to lower the overall price tag from $3.5 trillion to less than $2 trillion will likely help them fend off Republican attacks over the size of the package.

Some members said on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the negotiations that they are also hoping Manchin’s firm objection to a tax proposal that would require banks to report data to the Internal Revenue Service for enforcement purposes keeps it out of the bill.

Democrats are already facing a daily barrage of attacks by the National Republican Campaign Committee, which released new ads Wednesday tying 15 frontliners to the tax proposal, which they say would “let the IRS spy on the bank accounts of nearly every American family.”

Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa), who is the top targeted Democrat by the NRCC with millions of dollars already spent against her, believes that touting the infrastructure and economic spending plan soon will quickly help Democrats counter Republican attacks.

“One of the reasons I want to get this done is so that we can stop with that and just move forward with getting the good things done with people in our state and across this country,” she said.

Axne and other vulnerable Democrats are also hoping that the combination of the infrastructure spending with the provisions in the economic package aimed at education, child care and climate change will provide them with a good message on the campaign trail.

“Those two things together form the basis of a really strong domestic agenda,” Allred said. “The process has been hard. It’s been ugly. It’s played out far too much in public, but I think the final product is going to be a really good one that we can run on and more importantly, good policy.”

Jacqueline Alemany contributed to this report.