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Data: Brookings Institution, U.S. Senate; Chart: Connor Rothschild/Axios

Senators are spending more days in session than past congresses — but fewer hours per day on average, according to data from the Brookings Institution and the U.S. Senate.

Why it matters: The Senate pushed to wrap up negotiations on the bipartisan infrastructure package on Wednesday ahead of its longest break of the year. Other lingering work is likely to cut into senators' planned August recess, though.

Flashback: In 2018, then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) canceled August recess to pass appropriations bills — taking away critical campaigning time for senators up for re-election that year.

The big picture: Despite those instances, the summer break has generally gotten longer for senators during election years, per Pew.

  • The Senate spent an average of 16 days on August recess during election years between 1972 and 1982. That rose to 38 days between 2006 and 2016.

Go deeper

First look: Senate GOP's campaign arm raises $8 million in August

Sen. Rick Scott (second from left) and other Senate Republican leaders. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate Republicans' campaign arm raised $8 million last month, a new record for the group during the August of an off-year, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The National Republican Senatorial Committee saw a spike in donations following criticism of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and amid the rising cases in COVID-19. It's also reporting a record number of new donors, and saw the biggest digital fundraising month so far this cycle.

The Exvangelicals

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Even as evangelicals maintain their position as the most popular religion in the U.S., a movement of self-described "exvangelicals" is breaking away, using social media to engage tens of thousands of former faithful.

The big picture: Donald Trump's presidency, as well as movements around LGBTQ rights, #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, drew more Americans into evangelical churches while also pushing some existing members away.

Updated 5 hours ago - Science

Huge wildfire reaches edge of Sequoia National Park

A plume of smoke and flames rise into the air as the fire burns towards Moro Rock during the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Park near Three Rivers, California, on Saturday. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters in Sequoia National Park were working into the night after two wildfires merged to reach the Giant Forest Saturday.

Why it matters: This forest contains over 2,000 giant sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree — the world's largest tree by volume. Park officials wrapped the redwoods in foil last week as the Paradise and Colony Fires, now known as the KNP Complex Fire, neared. Protection efforts appeared to be working overnight.