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Cliff Owen / AP

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met Tuesday with Freedom Caucus members and other House conservatives in the basement of the Capitol, and told them he opposes Paul Ryan's proposed border adjustment tax — and so does President Trump.

Two sources with direct knowledge say Mnuchin was definitive in opposing the tax, which the Freedom Caucus overwhelmingly opposes, and more pointed in his opposition than he'd been in public statements. One source said Mnuchin encouraged members to talk to Ryan about the tax. When asked about the conversation, a Treasury official said Mnuchin's private position on the border adjustment tax reflected his public stance.

A third source, Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows, told me this a few hours after the meeting: "Secretary Mnuchin gave great insight into the thinking of the administration on tax reform. We are well served by his leadership. It became apparent that there is a growing consensus in the administration that we must act soon to advance tax reform and BAT [the border adjustment tax] is seen as a major impediment."

Why it matters: The tax on imports was a core facet of the Republican tax plan pushed by Ryan, designed to offset revenue lost through tax cuts. Many Congressional Republicans are already deeply skeptical, and without support from the administration it's dead on arrival.

Behind-the-scenes: Some administration officials are unhappy House GOP leadership continues to push for a policy that neither Mnuchin nor Trump will support.

Go deeper

40 mins ago - Health

Standardized testing becomes another pandemic victim

Photo: Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty

National standardized reading and math tests have been pushed from next year to 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: There’s mounting national evidence that students are suffering major setbacks this year, with a surge in the number of failing grades.

1 hour ago - World

European countries extend lockdowns

A medical worker takes a COVID-19 throat swab sample at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport. Photo by Maja Hitij via Getty

Recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Europe have led authorities to extend restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

Why it matters: "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

2 hours ago - Health

Africa CDC: Vaccines likely won't be available until Q2 of 2021

Africa CDC director Dr. John Nkengasong. Photo: Mohammed Abdu Abdulbaqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Africa may have to wait until the second quarter of 2021 to roll out vaccines, Africa CDC director John Nkengasong said Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Why it matters: “I have seen how Africa is neglected when drugs are available,” Nkengasong said.