WHEN JOE BIDEN entered office in January, Democrats knew they had two years to enact a mountain of critical legislation before midterm elections threatened their slim majorities in the House and Senate. That two-year window is now down to roughly one. But much of that time will be spent campaigning, meaning that the next month or two will shape the direction of not just the Biden administration, but arguably also the course of U.S. and global politics for decades to come.

With the administration’s $3.5 trillion vehicle careening toward a September 27 deadline, conservative Democrats have been at work trying to derail the White House’s ambitious agenda. First, they cobbled together a small, corporate-friendly bipartisan infrastructure package that they hoped would take the steam out of the larger effort. When that didn’t work, the conservative bloc pushed to shrink its size down from $6 trillion to $3.5 trillion, then pushed to decouple the two efforts. They are now threatening to destroy it altogether.

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