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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

35 mins ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia structures in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.

Dave Lawler, author of World
56 mins ago - World

Biden's big Saudi reset

Mohammed bin Salman. Photo: Ryad Kramdi/AFP via Getty

President Biden spoke with Saudi Arabia's King Salman this evening ahead of the release of a CIA report expected to implicate the king's son, and the kingdom's de facto ruler, in the murder of a U.S.-based journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

Why it matters: In one month, Biden has ended support for the Saudi war effort in Yemen, frozen a large arms deal and snubbed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) by declining to speak with him directly.