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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

A host of new problems emerged Monday morning threatening whether the Group of 10 can actually make this "infrastructure week" after all.

Why it matters: This is the bill's do-or-die moment.

  • August recesses in both chambers are here.
  • Senators are scheduled to break in two weeks — a deadline sure to be blown after Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) made clear he wants to pass both a bipartisan bill and a budget resolution before letting members head home.
  • Schumer said Monday afternoon he's prepared to keep the Senate in session this weekend to finish the bipartisan infrastructure bill: “It’s time for everyone to get to yes,” he announced on the floor.

Between the lines: It’s still unclear whether this 11th-hour infighting is just run-of-the-mill posturing amid the final negotiations, or actually a danger sign for the bill.

  • Two Democratic Senate aides familiar with the talks sent Axios this tweet from Bloomberg's Steve Dennis, which jokes that typical deals in Congress always start with a series of "no's"; then an agreement on a framework; then another string of "no's"; and then a "yes" on a final deal.
  • There's merit in Steve's argument — the final stretch of any substantial legislation is always the hardest to complete.
  • The bipartisan group is in that cauldron right now.

The big question: At what point does Schumer bail and turn to a catchall, Democrats-only reconciliation bill?

  • Axios reporting signals if there isn't at a minimum full text of the bill this week, let alone substantial floor action, then the Democratic leadership is likely to abandon ship and move on.
  • That can only happen, though, if Schumer ensures moderate Democratic senators — read: Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) — agree with that plan.
  • A huge reason Schumer has let the bipartisan talks continue so long is to cater to the two senators, whose votes are crucial to passing a Democrats-only bill in a 50-50 split Senate.

Behind the scenes: On Sunday, members of the group of negotiators were publicly optimistic they were closing in on final text, but behind the scenes, aides to the various senators were taking potshots at each other — anonymously.

  • A series of sniping quotes from both sides was circulated to reporters, on background, collectively frustrating members of the group.
  • Republicans claimed the Democrats' “global offer” was an unrealistic proposal — some aides went so far as to characterize it as offensive — that reopened talks in areas supposedly settled, including baseline spending, Davis-Bacon, broadband and more.
  • Democrats came back and said Republicans weren't negotiating in good faith.

Go deeper

Sep 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate offices closing ahead of "Justice for J6" demonstration

Security fencing outside the U.S. Capitol ahead of a planned "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, D.C.. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Multiple congressional offices will be closed Friday amid security precautions ahead of Saturday's rally in support of jailed Jan. 6 rioters, aides who have been instructed to work remotely tell Axios.

Why it matters: As the U.S. Capitol faces its first large-scale security test since the deadly attack, House and Senate offices are taking precautionary measures to protect staff as well as lawmakers.

Updated 1 hour 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.

2 hours ago - World

Hong Kong holds first "patriots only" elections

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam during a news conference last Monday. Photo: Lui Siu Wai/Xinhua via Getty Images

Hong Kong's elections to choose the city's Election Committee members opened to a select group of voters on Sunday, under a new "patriots only" system imposed by China's government.

Why it matters: All candidates running to be members of the electoral college have been "vetted" by Beijing, per Reuters. They will go on to choose the Asian financial hub's next leader, approved by China's government, and some of its legislature.