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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

Scoop: Border officials project 13,000 child migrants in May

The "El Chaparral" border crossing at Tijuana. Photo: Stringer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.

Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous "kids-in-cages" disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.

1 hour ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities 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.