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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) dropped a bomb on lawmakers Thursday morning when he outlined an ambitious timeline propelling the bipartisan infrastructure proposal toward floor action next week.

Why it matters: The senators involved have their work cut out for them. There's still a lot of concern about how to pay for the $1 trillion bill, which is key to shoring up Republican support for the measure.

  • The group of 10 negotiators huddled for hours Thursday afternoon in a room on the first floor of the Capitol, working to resolve the remaining — and most controversial — sticking points.
  • White House officials Steve Ricchetti, Brian Deese and Louisa Terrell joined them roughly an hour in, until they eventually broke and the senators flew home for the weekend.
  • The group said it plans to continue negotiating throughout the weekend, with the goal of producing legislative text by the time the Senate returns on Monday.

What they're saying: "The good news is is that we are all still talking. The bad news is we've got a pretty tight timeframe," Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told reporters.

Between the lines: Axios reported early Thursday that a prominent pay-for initially in the bipartisan framework — a $40 billion infusion to help the Internal Revenue Service with tax enforcement — is being re-thought.

  • Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) confirmed the group is now discussing potential alternatives to the IRS provision.
  • If it's nixed, it's a huge nod to conservatives, many of whom have seen this as the most controversial aspect of a bipartisan bill.
  • Sources familiar with the meeting say it may not be dropped in its entirety but peeled back.

Worth noting: Even if the group completes drafting the bill this weekend, it will take days for the Congressional Budget Office to score it — something multiple senators will need before ultimately weighing in.

  • It also will take time for the group to sell their colleagues on its key components.
  • However, next week's votes are, for now, just procedural — formally kicking off the process to pass the package.
  • A final vote on the bill would not come until next Thursday at the earliest.

Why Schumer is doing this: The Senate leader wants to ramp up pressure on lawmakers to finalize their work, Axios has learned.

  • They've been negotiating for months, and time is running out if they want to meet their self-imposed deadline of passing it before August recess.
  • Yet putting the bill on the floor before both sides are certain it will receive the necessary 60 votes to pass could be catastrophic for its chances.

Go deeper

Jul 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate Democrats announce $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday. Photo: Oliver Contreras/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Democrats on the Budget committee announced late Tuesday night that they have reached a deal on a $3.5 trillion package to address "human" infrastructure, which they plan to pass via reconciliation.

Why it matters: The price tag for the proposal — which is expected to include bold provisions on climate change, Medicare and education — comes in far below the $6 trillion figure Budget committee Chair Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and other progressive Democrats have pushed for.

Senate Democrats unveil details of $3.5 trillion budget deal

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Senate Democrats revealed on Wednesday key details of their $3.5 trillion budget framework, a starting point for a Democrat-only bill for "human" infrastructure that would enhance federal safety net programs, expand Medicare and tackle climate change.

Why it matters: The release of the FY2022 budget deal formally kicks off the process for getting a pair of infrastructure bills across the finish line.

Jul 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

The infrastructure drug deal

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Democrats have a new pay-for to finance a "soft" infrastructure bill: renegotiating Medicare prescription drug prices to save $600 billion — setting up a battle between progressives and well-capitalized drug companies.

Why it matters: By targeting pharma, Democrats are opening up a funding stream President Biden didn't initially include in his $4 trillion Build Back Better agenda. It relied on hiking taxes on corporations and Americans earning over $400,000.