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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told Politico that the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party "need each other" in order to have any hopes of passing their spending priorities with the narrowest possible majority.

Why it matters: Democrats have cleared the first hurdle in Schumer's risky "two-track" legislative strategy to enact President Biden's agenda, but just a single objection could derail the entire gambit.

  • The Senate this week overwhelmingly approved the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, despite reluctance from some progressives.
  • Hours later, all 50 members of the Senate Democratic caucus passed a $3.5 trillion budget resolution — teeing up a fight over a mammoth spending package that moderates are highly skeptical of.

What they're saying: "The moderates couldn't pass a bipartisan bill without the more progressive wing of our caucus," Schumer told Politico. "And the progressives couldn't get a big, bold bill without the moderates."

Behind the scenes: A few weeks before Tuesday's vote, Schumer says he negotiated with Senate Budget Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — who was once the most vocal "no" on the plan — telling him that "if you want the moderates to vote with the progressive vision, you can't vote no on this. You don't have that luxury."

  • Schumer recounts then telling centrist Democrats Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.): "If you won't vote yes on the budget resolution, I can't get them to vote yes" on the bipartisan bill.
  • Schumer says his strategy is "not mysterious. I preach how we each need each other. And without unity we have nothing." But the hardest part is still to come.
  • Almost immediately after the Senate cleared a budget that sets up a $3.5 trillion spending bill, Manchin said he has "serious concerns" about the size of the budget package, calling it "simply irresponsible" to continue spending at such high levels.
  • Schumer acknowledged there will be "a lot of hashing it out and clashing around in the reconciliation." But he promised at a press conference Wednesday that no matter the compromise, the Senate will pass "every part of the Biden plan in a big, bold, robust way."

What to watch: Schumer said that Senate committee chairs will work intensely over the next few weeks with the goal of having a reconciliation bill — presumably one that satisfies the concerns of both moderates and progressives — completed by Sept. 15.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 16, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Key clean power provision likely won't survive in Dems' spending bill

A construction worker walks along a dirt road at the Avangrid Renewables La Joya wind farm in Encino, New Mexico, on Aug. 5, 2020. Photo: Cate Dingley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A pillar of Democrats' plans to speed deployment of zero-carbon electricity is likely to be cut from major spending and tax legislation they are struggling to move on a party-line vote, per multiple reports and a Capitol Hill aide.

Driving the news: The New York Times, citing anonymous congressional aides and lobbyists, reports that West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) has told the White House he "strongly opposes" the Clean Electricity Performance Program.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - 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.

Ina Fried, author of Login
2 hours ago - Technology

Intel CEO blames predecessors for manufacturing woes

Axios on HBO

When it comes to Intel's recent manufacturing problems, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger places the blame squarely on his predecessors — many of whom he notes were not engineers deeply steeped in chip technology, as he is.

Why it matters: Gelsinger has announced a broad plan to reinvigorate Intel by doubling down on manufacturing. However, the strategy depends on the venerable semiconductor giant recovering from recent stumbles.