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Schumer: Progressives, centrists "need each other" for two-track infrastructure gambit

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told Politico that the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party "each 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 Chairman 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 KyrstenSinema (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 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 at a press conference Wednesday 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.

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

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Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

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"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

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What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

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