The Latest: Capitol architect says pig painting breaks rules


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Congress (all times local):

7:25 p.m.

A GOP congressman’s office says a painting on Capitol grounds that has stirred controversy will come down Tuesday after a review by the Capitol architect.

Washington Rep. Dave Reichert’s office reports he has been informed that the architect has determined the painting violates House Building Commission rules.

The painting depicts Ferguson, Missouri, with the image of a pig in a police uniform aiming a gun at a protester. It was among hundreds completed by high school students that are featured in a tunnel leading to the Capitol.

Reichert says the painting is a slap in the face to men and women who put their lives on the line every day.

Defenders of the painting say its removal would be a violation of the First Amendment.


6:30 p.m.

The Senate Intelligence Committee will examine possible contacts between Russia and the people associated with U.S. political campaigns as part of a broader investigation into Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

In a statement Friday, Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Mark Warner of Virginia say “the committee will follow the intelligence where it leads.”

U.S. intelligence has said Russia meddled in the presidential election to help Donald Trump win.

Earlier this week, Trump speculated that U.S. intelligence agencies might have leaked details about a classified briefing with him that included unsubstantiated allegations that Russia had collected compromising information about him.

The bulk of the committee work will be done behind closed doors, although the senators say they will hold open hearings when possible.


5:30 p.m.

An aide to Republican Rep. John Rutherford of Florida says the congressman remains in a local hospital, recovering from an allergic reaction to an antibiotic he was taking for a cold.

Rutherford, a freshman lawmaker from Jacksonville, was wheeled out of the Capitol on a stretcher Wednesday evening.

Kelly Simpson, the congressman’s chief of staff, says Rutherford suffered an acute digestive flare-up that generated painful discomfort. Simpson says the doctors continue to treat Rutherford’s inflammation and expect him to be released early next week.

Simpson says the reaction to the drug doesn’t present any long-term health implications for the congressman.


3:45 p.m.

Congress is sending the White House a bill to let retired Marine Gen. James Mattis run the Pentagon in the Trump administration.

The House passed the bill on a vote of 268-151.

A White House spokesman said President Barack Obama would sign the bill if Congress passed it before he leaves office.

The measure grants a one-time exception for Mattis from a law that bars former service members who have been out of uniform for less than seven years from holding the top Pentagon job.

The restriction is meant to preserve civilian control of the military. The 66-year-old Mattis retired from the Marine Corps in 2013.

The Senate overwhelmingly cleared the bill on Thursday.


3:30 p.m.

Congress has approved the first step toward dismantling President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Republicans have pushed a budget through Congress that provides an early but crucial victory in the effort.

The budget prevents Democrats from using a Senate filibuster to derail a bill annulling and replacing the law. That’s critical because it takes 60 votes to end filibusters, while Republicans have a 52-48 Senate majority.

The real work lies ahead. Republicans must decide which parts of Obama’s statute to erase, what a new version should look like and how to protect 20 million people getting health coverage under the 2010 law.

The House approved the budget Friday by a near party-line 227-198 vote.

The Senate approved the measure Thursday. It does not need the president’s signature.


3:10 p.m.

Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia says he doesn’t view Donald Trump as a legitimate president and will be skipping next Friday’s inauguration.

Lewis tells NBC’s “Meet the Press with Chuck Todd” that the Russians helped Trump get elected.

It will be the first inauguration Lewis has missed since he began serving in Congress three decades ago. Lewis says, “You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong, is not right.” Lewis testified this week against Trump’s attorney general nominee, Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona also says he will stay home to protest what he calls “disrespect” shown to Americans by the incoming administration and by actions in Congress. He says the majority of voters rejected Trump, and they deserve respect.


1:05 p.m.

The White House says President Barack Obama will sign legislation allowing retired Gen. James Mattis to run the Pentagon if Congress passes it before Obama leaves office.

The House is expected to pass a measure Friday relating to President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of defense. The Senate passed it easily on Thursday and it enjoys broad Republican support.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says Obama wouldn’t prevent that legislation from becoming law.

The legislation grants a one-time exception to the law that bars former service members who have been out of uniform for less than seven years from holding the top Pentagon job. The restriction is meant to preserve civilian control of the military.


11:30 a.m.

Sen. Tim Kaine says he’ll vote against allowing Rex Tillerson to become secretary of state.

The Virginia Democrat says in a statement that Tillerson failed to demonstrate the “awareness, judgment or independence” the senator expects from a person aspiring to be the nation’s chief diplomat.

President-elect Donald Trump selected Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil, for the post last month.

Kaine is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and also was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in last year’s presidential election. The panel held a confirmation hearing for Tillerson Wednesday.

Kaine says Tillerson declined to answer his repeated questions about whether ExxonMobil had long understood the connection between CO2 emissions and climate change but instead waged “a public campaign to misinform the public about this scientific consensus.”


10 a.m.

Committee Republicans and Democrats are sparring over how to handle an ethics challenge involving President-elect Donald Trump.

GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah wants to privately question Walter Shaub, director of the Office of Government Ethics. Shaub has raised questions about what Trump plans to do with his business when he takes over the White House. Trump is planning to put his assets in a trust, but allow his children to manage them.

The top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, said Friday in a statement that the panel should protect whistleblowers and independent government watchdogs — not retaliate against them for political reasons.

He says Shaub should appear at a public hearing.


3:30 a.m.

Congress is on the cusp of completing the first — and by far the easiest — step toward gutting President Barack Obama’s divisive health care law.

Friday’s vote in the House would adopt a House-Senate measure to make it easier for a subsequent “Obamacare” repeal bill to advance through the Senate without the threat of a Democratic filibuster.

The legislation doesn’t need to be signed by the president and wouldn’t actually change a word of the hotly contested health care law.

But its passage is crucial if Republicans controlling Congress are to keep their longstanding promise to scuttle the law, which has delivered health coverage to about 20 million people but is saddled with problems such as rapidly rising premiums and large co-payments.


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