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Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump's Tuesday meeting with Senate Republicans on providing economic relief in response to the coronavirus was chaotic and covered a wide range of ideas, leaving many senators unclear on how the government will deal with growing fears that the U.S. is headed for a recession.

Why it matters: Trump and top White House officials left the meeting with no specific policy proposals to implement at time when the economic and public health impacts of virus are worsening by the hour.

What they're saying: Senate Republicans emerged from Tuesday's lunch and told reporters that they discussed "a menu of tools" in the government's arsenal for how to help stem the negative impacts of the virus on the economy, but said they remained far apart on specific solutions.

  • "If the administration has decided on the specific tools they didn't share that with us," Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said. "It's clear the administration is seriously considering a fiscal stimulus. What that will be I don't think anybody's decided yet. You'll not be surprised to learn that senators had plenty of suggestions, particularly when it comes to spending money."
  • "[Trump's] a big, big supporter of a big payroll tax reduction" that would extend over the next several months, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said. "Obama did a payroll tax, I'm not sure how well that worked. I think this president is kind of planning something more dramatic than that."
  • Johnson added that different senators have different ideas, with some floating a permanent payroll tax cut. "But as a deficit hawk, realizing these programs are already underfunded, I mean, I would scratch my head going, how's that gonna work?" he added.

Several senators said the idea of implementing an infrastructure package was a central theme of the discussions, with the goal of providing more well-paying jobs to workers in need. But, similar to previous attempts of passing an infrastructure bill, there are disagreements on how to fund it.

  • "I brought up the infrastructure which I've talked about before," Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said. "Trump's been through this before. We gotta say how we can pay for it."

Meeting attendees: Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, economic adviser Larry Kudlow and trade adviser Peter Navarro were all present.

  • Mnuchin later met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but left that meeting with little to say.
  • "I wouldn't say it's negotiations," Mnuchin told reporters. "We're having discussions about various different policies. ... There's a lot of interest in a bipartisan basis to get something done quickly."

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

5 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.