Wednesday April 25th, 2018 8:38AM

The Latest: Tillerson says he'll work with Congress

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on activities in Congress (all times EST):

2:18 p.m.

Rex Tillerson is telling senators he would work closely with Congress on any new Russia sanctions.

Trump's choice for secretary of state says he would cooperate "on the construct of new sanctions" after Moscow's alleged interference in the presidential election and aggression in other parts of the world.

Tillerson also says the Trump administration will be committed to seeking support from Congress for major military actions.

He says Trump believes "it is important that we not just lightly go into these conflicts" and would "seek the engagement and support" of Congress, either through a resolution or legislation to authorize the use of force.

Tillerson says: "It's much more powerful when the U.S. shows up with everyone aligned."


2:00 p.m.

The Republican-led Senate is poised to take a step toward dismantling President Barack Obama's health care law despite anxiety among some GOP senators that their party still hasn't come up with an alternative.

A procedural budget vote slated for late Wednesday or early Thursday would trigger committee action to write repeal legislation that could come to a vote next month. A full replacement would follow sometime after that if Republicans can come up with one.

The nearly seven-year-old law extended health insurance to some 20 million Americans, prevented insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions and steered millions to the states for the Medicaid health program for the poor.


1:39 p.m.

Democrat Cory Booker says his Senate colleague Jeff Sessions has at times exhibited hostility toward civil rights.

Booker is taking the highly unusual step of testifying against President-elect Donald Trump's pick for attorney general on the second day of Sessions' confirmation hearings.

The New Jersey senator said an attorney general "must bring hope and healing to the country and this demands a more courageous effort that Sen. Sessions demonstrates."

Booker added the Alabama Republican's opposition to reform of the criminal justice system, among other issues.

Sessions was rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1986 for a judgeship amid accusations that he called a black attorney "boy" — which he denied — and the NAACP and ACLU "un-American."

Sessions called those accusations "damnably false."


1:14 p.m.

A Republican congressman has asked the architect of the Capitol to review whether a high school student's painting of the events in Ferguson, Missouri, should be displayed on Capitol Hill.

The painting has the image of a pig in a police uniform aiming a gun at a protester. It hangs among hundreds of other works of art chosen in last year's Congressional Arts Competition.

In a letter on Wednesday, Republican Rep. Dave Reichert of Washington state says it's not his desire to censor an individual's right to freedom of speech and expression.

But Reichert says the painting is "in clear violation" of the competition's official rules, which state that exhibits "depicting subjects of contemporary political controversy or a sensationalist, or gruesome nature are not allowed."

The painting has set off a battle in Congress, with several Republicans taking it down and Missouri Democrat William Lacy Clay of Missouri putting it back up. Clay maintains that the paint represents free speech. Republicans call it offensive to law enforcement.


12:58 p.m.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi says she doesn't know what has been reported or corroborated regarding reports that Russia obtained compromising information about President-elect Donald Trump, but she's long been curious about what information Russia had.

Pelosi says "I've always wondered what did Russia have on Donald Trump that Donald Trump would question whether we should support our sanctions that we had in Europe."

A U.S. official says top intelligence officials told Trump about an unsubstantiated report on him last week. A dossier contains unproven information about close coordination between Trump's inner circle and Russians about hacking into Democratic accounts. It also contains unproven claims about unusual sexual activities by Trump, among other suggestions attributed to anonymous sources. The Associated Press has not authenticated any of the claims.

Pelosi was speaking on a jobs bill when asked about Trump.


12:16 p.m.

Rex Tillerson says he has no knowledge about whether President-elect Donald Trump or members of his family has any financial interests with Russia.

Trump's pick for secretary of state was responding to questions from Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat who was Hillary Clinton's running mate against Trump in the 2016 election.

Kaine asked to know if Tillerson would be at a disadvantage in negotiations if there another country or individual had information about Trump that Tillerson wasn't aware of.

Tillerson says: "Not to my knowledge."


11:57 a.m.

Donald Trump's choice to be secretary of state says if China doesn't properly enforce U.N. sanctions on North Korea, the U.S. should consider actions to compel them to comply.

Rex Tillerson was responding to a question at his Senate confirmation hearing about the idea of secondary U.S. sanctions on Chinese companies that deal with North Korea.

Tillerson said a "new approach" toward China is necessary to make clear the U.S. expected more from Beijing related to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

China is a traditional ally of North Korea and accounts for more than 90 percent of trade with the isolated nation.

U.N. sanctions were tightened in September to restrict imports of North Korean coal by China.


11:42 a.m.

Donald Trump's choice for secretary of state says climate change does exist and the risk is great enough to warrant action.

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson didn't say what action.

Tillerson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday the increase in greenhouse gases is "having an effect." But he says the "ability to predict that effect is very limited."

The president elect has sent mixed signals on climate change. He has brushed it off as a Chinese hoax and also said "nobody really knows."

Tillerson says he came to his personal position on climate change as a scientist. He says Trump has invited his thoughts on the contentious subject. "I feel free to express those views," he says.

Tillerson also says he would recuse himself as secretary of state from matters that involve Exxon Mobil.


11:08 a.m.

Donald Trump's choice to be secretary of state says he's not had a conversation with the president-elect about U.S. policy toward Russia.

Tillerson's statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee came despite the intense focus members of Congress have had on Russia over allegations Moscow meddled in the 2016 election to help Trump win.

Tillerson says he favors keeping the current sanctions against Russia in place until the Trump administration takes office.

"I would leave things in the status quo so we can convey it could go either way," Tillerson says.

Tillerson also says Russia's targeted bombing in the Syrian city of Aleppo "is not acceptable behavior" but he's declining to flatly say that Moscow is guilty of war crimes. He says he'll wait until he sees detailed intelligence before making that decision.


11:04 a.m.

Transportation secretary-designate Elaine Chao says the Trump administration wants to unleash the potential of private investors to boost the national transportation networks that underpin the economy.

She told senators at her confirmation hearing that economic gains are being "jeopardized" by aging infrastructure, rising traffic fatalities, growing congestion, and a failure to keep pace with emerging technologies.

Chao, a former labor secretary and deputy transportation secretary, is the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

McConnell stole a line from a predecessor, former Senate Majority leader Robert Dole, while introducing Chao: "I regret I have only one wife to give for my country." Dole's wife, Elizabeth, is a former transportation and labor secretary.

Chao quipped back: "I will be working to 'lock in' the majority leader's support tonight over dinner."


11:00 a.m.

Protesters briefly interrupted Rex Tillerson's confirmation hearing for secretary of state.

One woman shouted, "Please don't put Exxon in charge of the State Department. Protect our children and grandchildren."

She was one of two women holding "Reject Rex" signs who stood up, one after the other, in the cavernous chamber where the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is holding the hearing. The protesters were quickly removed by U.S. Capitol Police.

Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil, faces hours of questions Wednesday about President-elect Donald Trump's foreign policy plans.


10:47 a.m.

California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein is resting at home after having a pacemaker installed this week.

Feinstein, 83, said in a statement Wednesday that the procedure went smoothly and was undertaken out of caution.

The implantation was performed on Tuesday after Feinstein participated in questioning Alabama GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions in a hearing on his nomination to be attorney general.

Feinstein says she'll return to a full schedule soon.


10:45 a.m.

Donald Trump's choice for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, says sanctions can be a "powerful tool" but they disrupt American businesses.

The CEO of ExxonMobil opposed sanctions levied on Moscow following its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014. The penalties cost the energy giant hundreds of millions of dollars.

He also has spoken of his general opposition to sanctions.

On Wednesday, he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: "The fact is, sanctions, in order to be implemented, impact American business."

Tillerson also said he never personally lobbied against sanctions and neither, to his knowledge, did his company.


10:38 a.m.

Donald Trump's choice for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, says it's a "fair assumption" Russian President Vladimir Putin knew about Moscow's meddling in America's 2016 presidential election.

Tillerson is telling the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he's not privy to the detailed intelligence about Russia's hacking. But he says he read the declassified report released last week about Russia's interference.

Tillerson says in response to a question from Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, he would not describe Putin as a "war criminal."

Rubio says Russia's support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and bombing in Aleppo should not make it hard to say that Putin is responsible for war crimes.

Rubio has said he has "serious concerns" about Tillerson as America's top diplomat.


10:30 a.m.

An immigrant brought to the United States as a child is testifying on the second day of Sen. Jeff Sessions's confirmation hearing for attorney general.

The Alabama senator has opposed President Barack Obama's program to allow young immigrants who came to the United States as children to go through background checks in exchange for a promise they would be safe from deportation.

Oscar Vazquez earned a degree in mechanical engineering and served in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.

Sessions opposed the comprehensive immigration bill that would have given a path to citizenship to the estimated 11 million immigrants living here illegally.

Testifying on behalf of Sessions, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey called Sessions "principled, intelligent, honest and thorough."


10:25 a.m.

Rex Tillerson says Russia had no legal right to annex Crimea in 2014.

President-elect Donald Trump's choice for secretary of state is telling the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he would have advised a more robust response than the Obama administration delivered.

The Exxon Mobil CEO is telling the panel that the U.S. should have told Russia that the land grab "stops right here." He adds that "If Russia acts with force, that requires a proportional show of force that there will be no more taking of territory."

Tillerson opposed the sanctions the U.S. levied on Moscow following its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula. The penalties cost the energy giant hundreds of millions of dollars.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business
© Copyright 2018
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Moon begins blotting out the sun in historic US eclipse
The moon has begun blotting the sun from the sky in the first full-blown solar eclipse to sweep the U.S. from coast to coast in nearly a century
1:09PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Alabama starts atop AP poll for 2nd straight year
Alabama is No. 1 in The Associated Press preseason college football poll for the second straight season and third time in five years
1:00PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Attorneys for condemned Missouri man seek halt to execution
Attorneys for a condemned Missouri inmate warn that the state is preparing to execute a potentially innocent man
12:54PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Navy chief orders probe into Pacific fleet after collisions
The U.S. Navy is ordering a broad investigation into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet, after two major ship collisions in two months
12:23PM ( 57 minutes ago )
The Latest: Kaine says US must be 'invested' in Afghanistan
Sen. Tim Kaine says the United States needs to "make sure that Afghanistan is not a breeding ground for things that can come back and hurt us."
12:12PM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump to outline Afghan strategy in national TV address
President Donald Trump will use a nationally televised address to outline for a war-weary nation the strategy he believes will best position the U.S. to eventually declare victory in Afghanistan
12:06PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: Big Ben's bell goes silent for years of repairs
Britain's Big Ben has bonged the hour for the last time ahead of almost four years of repair work
7:01AM ( 6 hours ago )
Big Ben bell to go silent in London for repairs until 2021
The British Parliament's Big Ben bell is due to sound the hour for the last time before it is silenced for repair work scheduled to last until 2021
5:35AM ( 7 hours ago )
Past health chiefs: insurance market stability is the goal
Three former U.S. health secretaries of both parties say President Donald Trump and the GOP-led Congress should make stabilizing health insurance marketplaces their immediate goal
3:30AM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Attack victims came from around world to celebrate Barcelona
The victims of the vehicle attacks in Barcelona and a nearby resort town came from around the world and across generations
12:15PM ( 1 hour ago )
Russian flight attendant sues airline for discrimination
A Moscow court is due to rule on Tuesday in the case of a flight attendant who is suing Russia's flagship airline Aeroflot for taking her off the sought-after long-haul international flights because of her looks
10:11AM ( 3 hours ago )
Sempra Energy bids $9.45B for Oncor, topping Buffett offer
Sempra Energy says it's buying Texas power transmitter Oncor for $9.45B in cash, wresting it away from Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway
9:56AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business
Moon begins blotting out the sun in historic US eclipse
The moon has begun blotting the sun from the sky in the first full-blown solar eclipse to sweep the U.S. from coast to coast in nearly a century
1:09PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Alabama starts atop AP poll for 2nd straight year
Alabama is No. 1 in The Associated Press preseason college football poll for the second straight season and third time in five years
1:00PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Attorneys for condemned Missouri man seek halt to execution
Attorneys for a condemned Missouri inmate warn that the state is preparing to execute a potentially innocent man
12:54PM ( 26 minutes ago )
The Latest: Couple to witness their 13th eclipse
Les and Mary Anderson will mark their 13th eclipse with hundreds of amateur astronomers who have descended on Casper, Wyoming
12:52PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Judge shot, wounded near Ohio courthouse; suspect killed
Ohio officials say a county judge was shot and wounded as he walked toward a courthouse, and the suspect was killed when a probation officer returned fire
12:49PM ( 30 minutes ago )