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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Senators face a massive squeeze for passing the infrastructure packages by the deadlines set by the White House and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Why it matters: They return Monday for their final four-week sprint until August recess. The bipartisan group that reached a framework with the White House before the July Fourth recess is still working on its bill, and the reconciliation bill also hasn't been written.

What we’re hearing: Most Democratic senators in the bipartisan group care far less than leadership about process and sequencing. Once they have the necessary votes, they want to move on the centrist bill.

  • But progressives, particularly those in the House, have continued leveling threats they’ll oppose that legislation unless the more ambitious reconciliation package passes with it.
  • Meanwhile, it's still not clear whether McConnell will support the bipartisan package. His comments over the July Fourth recess were intentionally vague, Senate aides say, as he waits to see what the final legislation will look like and how Schumer and Pelosi plan to push it forward.

State of play: In a letter to his caucus last week, Schumer made clear he wants the Senate to consider both packages during the upcoming work period. However, he did not use specific language about tying them together.

  • Instead, he relied on technical language to say he wanted to pass "a budget resolution with reconciliation instructions, which is the first step for passing legislation through the reconciliation process."
  • The bipartisan group — now made up of 22 senators with Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) signing onto the deal last week — has been in constant touch over recess about minute details of the package, which their staffs are currently drafting.

Be smart: This is just considering the Senate. The House doesn’t return to the Capitol for another week, and its members are scheduled to jet back home for August recess two weeks later.

Go deeper

Biden meeting with key House Democrats

President Biden. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Biden is hosting two separate in-person meetings with moderate and progressive House members at the White House on Tuesday as infrastructure negotiations continue, White House officials told Axios.

Why it matters: This is the latest in the president’s efforts to appease the more volatile parts of his party’s coalition as Democrats wrangle over how to cut his social spending proposal down from $3.5 trillion to closer to $2 trillion.

Oct 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Democrats brace for staredown over paid family medical leave

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senior House Democrats are braced for battle with the Senate over whether paid family medical leave — a key priority for progressives — will be included in President Biden’s final budget reconciliation bill, lawmakers and aides tell Axios.

Why it matters: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has indicated he wants to cut the program to reduce the bill's price tag. “Paid family and medical leave must be in the final package,” Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, told Axios on Monday.

Mike Allen, author of AM
Oct 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

GOP senator calls for senility test for aging leaders

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a physician, told me during an "Axios on HBO" interview that he favors cognition tests for aging leaders of all three branches of government.

Why it matters: Wisdom comes with age. But science also shows that we lose something. And much of the world is now run by old people — including President Biden, 78 ... Speaker Pelosi, 81 ...  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, 70 ... and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 79.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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