Aug 27, 2017

Tensions building between Big Six, Freedom Caucus on tax reform

Andrew Harnik / AP

Freedom Caucus members say it's way harder than it should be to get a meeting with the two Trump officials steering tax reform: Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Sources with direct knowledge tell me that in front of a meeting of the Freedom Caucus in mid-July, the group's leader Mark Meadows asked White House legislative affairs representative Paul Teller to arrange a meeting with Cohn and Mnuchin, so they could share some of the details of the closely-held tax reform discussions.

  • The White House told the Freedom Caucus that scheduling issues were preventing the meeting from happening, but sources familiar with the discussions say Cohn and Mnuchin agreed with Republican leaders that it didn't make sense to share too much information at this stage in the process.
  • White House spokeswoman Natalie Strom didn't dispute the details of the Freedom Caucus request, but insisted it was purely a scheduling issue and that Cohn and Mnuchin were of course willing to meet with the Freedom Caucus.
  • Freedom Caucus spokeswoman Alyssa Farah points out that Secretary Mnuchin met with members of the Freedom Caucus in late June, for more than an hour, to discuss tax reform. (That was early on in the discussions, however, and no real substance was shared.)
  • Strom confirmed that the White House's legislative affairs director Marc Short is trying to schedule a meeting with the Freedom Caucus for the first week back in September.

Why this matters: These tensions could easily blow out into bigger problems for the White House and Republican leadership, as many conservatives feel cut out of the process.

  • Meadows asked for this meeting because some conservative members are frustrated they have no visibility into what the Big Six have been doing. (The "Big Six" is the group of top lawmakers and officials — Paul Ryan, Kevin Brady, Mitch McConnell, Orrin Hatch, Mnuchin, and Cohn — that's working through the details of GOP tax reform, behind closed doors.)
  • A prominent House Republican member told me, "we conservatives have renamed them the Secret Six."

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 1,187,798 — Total deaths: 64,084 — Total recoveries: 245,949Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 301,902 — Total deaths: 8,175 — Total recoveries: 14,505Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. The virus is hitting poor, minority communities harder and upending childbirth.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. "We're having the convention at the end of August."
  5. Business updates: Restaurants step up for health care workers. Employees are pressuring companies to provide protections during coronavirus. America's small business bailout off to bad start.
  6. Oil latest: Monday meeting among oil-producing countries to discuss supply curbs is reportedly being delayed amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
  7. Education update: Many college-age students won't get coronavirus relief checks.
  8. 1 🏀 thing: The WNBA postpones start of training camps and season.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll surpasses 8,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the coronavirus surpassed 8,000 in the U.S. on Saturday afternoon, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day for the past four days, since April 1.

The big picture: As expected, COVID-19 death tolls are rising in the U.S. The CDC is recommending Americans wear face coverings in public to help stop the spread, marking a significant change in messaging from the Trump administration.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates: Spain tracks more cases than Italy

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Spain overtook Italy in its number of coronavirus cases on Saturday. The global death toll has surpassed 62,000, per Johns Hopkins data.

The latest: About half the planet's population is on lockdown amid the coronavirus crisis. Fatalities are exponentially increasing across Europe, with roughly half of deaths worldwide located in Italy and Spain.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health