The Latest: Trump expected to sign family planning bill

AP News
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Posted: Apr 12, 2017 8:40 PM
The Latest: Trump expected to sign family planning bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local):

8:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump is expected to sign legislation Thursday erasing an Obama-era rule that barred states from withholding federal family planning funds from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.

The rule was finalized shortly before Obama left office in January.

The legislation squeezed narrowly through the Senate last month after Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote.

It was passed using an obscure measure called the Congressional Review Act, which lets lawmakers undo regulations enacted in the last months of the Obama administration with just a majority vote.

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6:10 p.m.

The nation's largest business group is joining doctors, hospitals and insurers in asking President Donald Trump to preserve a key part of "Obamacare," as his predecessor's health care law is known.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been critical of many parts of the Obama-era law, signed on to a letter Wednesday that asks Trump to keep cost-sharing subsidies provided by the Affordable Care Act. Those subsidies, totaling an estimated $7 billion this year, help lower deductibles and copayments for people with modest incomes.

The letter — also signed by the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, America's Health Insurance Plans and other groups — says the cost-sharing subsidies are critical for the stability of health insurance markets.

The subsidies are in legal limbo.

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6 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he had a "great meeting" with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Trump tweeted shortly after his joint news conference with Stoltenberg: "Great meeting w/ NATO Sec. Gen. We agreed on the importance of getting countries to pay their fair share & focus on the threat of terrorism."

Trump said during the news conference that NATO members must meet their financial obligations and pay what they owe if they are to continue benefiting from the military alliance.

The two also reiterated their commitment to collaborating on missions in Afghanistan and Iraq to help the war-torn countries.

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5:05 p.m.

A former foreign policy adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump won't say who brought him on to the Republican's presidential campaign.

Carter Page is under scrutiny for his ties to Russia. The Washington Post has reported that the Justice Department obtained a secret warrant to monitor Page's communications last summer because it had reason to believe he was a Russian agent.

Page has refused to say how he got connected with the Trump campaign, saying the question is irrelevant.

In an interview with CNN, Page says he was not brought in by Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman whose possible Russia ties are also being scrutinized. Page says he has never met or spoken with Manafort.

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4:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he told Chinese leader Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) that "the way you're going to make a good trade deal is to help us with North Korea."

Trump, who spoke with Xi Tuesday night, discussed the call at a joint press conference Wednesday with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (yehnz STOHL'-tehn-burg) of NATO.

Trump wants China's help to crack down on North Korea's nuclear program. He says if China does not help "we're just going to go it alone."

He adds that "going it alone means going it with lots of other nations."

According to a description of the call released by the Chinese foreign ministry, Xi told Trump that Beijing is willing to work on denuclearization but wants a peaceful solution.

Trump and Xi recently held talks in Florida.

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4:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump is praising China for abstaining from a Western-backed United Nations Security Council resolution that would have condemned the reported use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Trump says at a news conference with the secretary-general of NATO that it was "wonderful" that China abstained and the U.S. was "honored by that vote."

Russia vetoed the resolution calling for a speedy investigation into the attack.

China usually sides with Russia in the Security Council, so the move to abstain represented a significant shift for Beijing.

It came after Trump met last week with Chinese leader Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) and the two spoke by phone Tuesday night.

Trump says he's "very impressed" with Xi, adding he thought he means well and wants to help.

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4:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump says it's "certainly possible" though "probably unlikely" that Syria could have launched a recent chemical attack without Russia knowing about it.

Trump says he'd like to think the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin didn't know, but says "certainly they could have."

He notes the Russians were operating on the Syrian air base from which the attack was launched last week. Russia is a key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and the U.S. blames Assad for the chemical attack that killed scores of civilians. Trump launched a volley of missile strikes at the Syrian air base in response.

Trump says Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is looking into whether Russia knew about the attack ahead of time.

Trump commented at a White House news conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (yehnz STOHL'-tehn-burg).

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4:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the U.S. is "not getting along with Russia at all" and relations between the two global powers are at an "all-time low."

Trump says in a White House news conference that he's hopeful that he can improve relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin but "we're going to see what happens."

The president spoke alongside the secretary-general of NATO shortly after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Putin in Moscow. Tillerson told reporters the two countries have reached a "low point" in relations in the aftermath of a chemical attack in Syria.

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4:20 p.m.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says that, thanks to NATO, "America has the best friends and best allies in the word."

Stoltenberg is touting NATO's benefits at a joint press conference with President Donald Trump at the White House. Trump had previously questioned NATO's relevance.

Stoltenberg says NATO provides crucial support to the coalition fighting the Islamic State group, as well as help training soldiers and intelligence sharing.

He says NATO has committed to do more in the global fight against terrorism and is committed to ensuring that defense costs are split more fairly.

He says both he and Trump agree that NATO is "a bedrock" of security for both Europe and the United States.

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4:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump has done an about-face on NATO, the military alliance he once dismissed as ineffective.

Trump says at a White House news conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (yehnz STOHL'-tehn-burg) that the organization is "no longer obsolete."

As a candidate Trump said the 28-member organization had outlived its usefulness. Since taking office, he has expressed support for NATO but has reinforced his view that European members must meet a 2014 agreement for member countries to boost defense spending to 2 percent of GDP within a decade. Just the U.S. and a handful of other countries are meeting the target.

Trump says NATO countries will be more secure and the partnership strengthened if other countries pay their fair share and stop relying on the United States.

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1:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump is saying he may reshuffle some of his major domestic priorities.

After Republican leaders pulled their health care bill back from a House vote last month, Trump signaled that he was ready to move on to tax overhaul and other issues.

But on Wednesday, Trump said on Fox Business Network that he'd rather move health care first. That's despite an ongoing impasse between GOP hardliners and moderates.

"I have to do health care first," said Trump. "I want to do it first to really do it right."

Without spending cuts in the health care bill, it's much harder for Republicans to cut taxes without adding to federal deficits.

"The tax reform and the tax cuts are better if I can do health care first," Trump said.

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9:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump will welcome Argentina's president, Mauricio Macri, to the White House at the end of April.

The White House says the April 27 visit will give the leaders a chance to discuss ways to deepen the close partnership between the United States and Argentina.

Trade, security and the deteriorating situation in Venezuela are among the likely topics for discussion.

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8:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he's had "a very good call" with Chinese leader Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) dealing with what Trump calls "the menace of North Korea."

Trump tweets that he spoke with Xi on Tuesday night.

And Trump says in an interview with Fox Business News that solving the standoff with North Korea isn't "as simple as people would think."

Trump says China's long history with North Korea complicates China's ability to crack down on the North's nuclear program.

Trump and Xi recently held talks at Trump's estate in Florida. Trump says he made a deal with Xi that China will get a much better trade ties with the United States if Beijing helps to disarm North Korea.

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8:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump says his chief strategist Steve Bannon joined his campaign "very late," downplaying the notion that Bannon is an influential member of his team.

In an interview with the New York Post, Trump was asked about infighting among top members of his administration in which Bannon is said to be a center figure.

Trump said, "I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late."

Trump said he had already jumped major hurdles in the campaign by that time, beating "all the senators and all the governors" before he met Bannon.

The president added, "I'm my own strategist and it wasn't like I was going to change strategies because I was facing crooked Hillary," referring to general election opponent Hillary Clinton.

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7:42 a.m.

President Donald Trump says the U.S. is not going to get involved in Syria but that he had to act because of chemical attacks there.

His comments, aired Wednesday on Fox Business News, come less than a week after Trump ordered a retaliatory strike on Syria based on U.S. evidence that Syrian President Bashar Assad attacked civilians with chemical weapons.

Trump said, "when I saw that, I said we have to do something."

But he also appeared to rule out deeper involvement, saying: "Are we going to get involved with Syria? No."

Trump also warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin, in backing Assad, is supporting someone who is "truly an evil person." That, Trump said, is "very bad for Russia" and "very bad for mankind" and the world.