The Latest: Cruz needles Democrats over criticism of judges

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Latest on Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch: (all times EDT): 2:40 p.m. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz says "it's a little rich" that Democrats are criticizing President Donald Trump's comments attacking the federal judiciary while also criticizing Neil Gorsuch. The Supreme Court nominee is a judge on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Labor nominee says he won't let politics influence hiring

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the Labor Department said Wednesday he won't allow potential political pressure from the administration to influence his hiring decisions and regrets he let that happen on his watch at the Justice Department. But Alexander Acosta, testifying before the Senate Health, Labor, Education and Pensions Committee, said little about what he would do about overtime pay and other issues if confirmed for the job.

Trump signs NASA bill, ponders sending Congress to space

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump signed legislation Tuesday adding human exploration of Mars to NASA's mission. Could sending Congress into space be next? Flanked at an Oval Office bill-signing ceremony by astronauts and lawmakers, Trump observed that being an astronaut is a "pretty tough job." He said he wasn't sure he'd want it and, among lawmakers he put the question to, Sen. Ted Cruz said he wouldn't want to be a space traveler, either.

AP Explains: How GOP health care plan would turn into law

Republicans leaders want to push their bill repealing and replacing much of the 2010 health care law through Congress by April. But the GOP must navigate a complicated path to get the proposal to President Donald Trump's desk. ___ WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? GOP leaders say the House will consider the bill Thursday. Three House committees -- Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Budget --already moved the legislation ahead.

Trump going outside Washington for support on health bill

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- President Donald Trump is deploying an outside and inside strategy to fulfill his campaign promise to repeal and replace "Obamacare," seeking support beyond Washington before making an in-person pitch on Capitol Hill. Top House Republicans unveiled proposed changes in their legislation in hopes of winning support, three days before the big House vote. Trump rallied supporters Monday night in Louisville, Kentucky, alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

The Latest: Gorsuch confirmation vote expected by April 10

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Latest on Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch (all times local): 3:50 p.m. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley says the Senate is aiming to confirm Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch before a two-week break that starts April 10. The committee expects a vote on Monday, April 3.

Ryan: More help for older people needed in GOP health bill

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Days before a pivotal vote, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Sunday he will seek changes to a GOP health care bill to provide more help to older people. The new willingness to compromise was a bid for more support from moderate Republicans, who expressed continuing unease about the plan to replace Barack Obama's health law unless significant changes were made.

The Latest: Trump optimistic on new health law

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Latest on the Republican health care plan (all times local): 2:30 p.m. President Donald Trump says he expects the House Republican health plan will be passed "substantially pretty quickly." Speaking at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Friday, Trump calls it a "great plan" and says it is "getting more and more popular with the Republican base, the conservative base and with people generally.

GOP senator complicates Trump, Ryan efforts on health care

WASHINGTON (AP) -- One of the loudest critics of GOP health legislation is not a Democrat or even a conservative rebel, but a Republican loyalist and staunch defender of President Donald Trump. Freshman Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas is not known for clashing with leadership or plotting with conservative trouble-makers in the House, as Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas are wont to do.

Correction: Congress-Health Overhaul story

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a story March 17 about the House Republican health care bill, The Associated Press reported erroneously that Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., is a freshman from the Hudson River Valley. He is a second-term lawmaker from upstate New York.

GOP Sen. Paul calls colleague McCain 'a little bit unhinged'

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sen. Rand Paul called fellow Republican Sen. John McCain "a little bit unhinged" Thursday after McCain had said "the senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin," the Russian president. He also said McCain, who is 80, may be "past his prime." The discord between two senators from the same party is remarkable even in the current political environment. Paul's comments came in an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe.

High stakes for Trump on GOP health care bill

WASHINGTON (AP) -- As a new president who has vowed to keep his campaign promises, Donald Trump knows he'll be judged on whether he can repeal the so-called Obamacare law and replace it with something new. Dealing with skepticism from conservatives and moderates alike, the White House is considering changes to the bill that might reassure conservatives, all in an effort to muscle through the GOP-backed health care plan in the House next week.

Health bill short of votes, GOP leaders look to Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Short of votes for their health care bill, Republican congressional leaders turned to President Donald Trump on Thursday to wrangle support for the divisive legislation they hope to push through Congress before Easter. But Trump sounded more like he was at the start of a negotiation than ready to close the deal.

Congress sends Trump drug test measure for unemployed

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate on Tuesday sent President Donald Trump a measure to expand the number of applicants for jobless benefits who can be drug-tested. The White House has said Trump will sign the measure into law as a cancellation of "unnecessary regulations." Lawmakers in the GOP-controlled Congress have complained that under President Barack Obama, the government placed too many limits on states for deciding which unemployment applicants can be drug-tested.

Official: Sanders shares blame for minors voting in primary

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin election officials on Tuesday blamed undertrained poll workers and Sen. Bernie Sanders' social media posts for dozens of instances in which 17-year-olds managed to vote in last year's state presidential primary. A commission report found that as many as 70 teenagers in nearly 30 Wisconsin counties voted illegally in the April election. Sanders won the Democratic side of the primary; Ted Cruz won the Republican side.

It's a congressional road trip _ and stab at bipartisanship

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's a congressional road trip -- and a stab at bipartisanship. Two Texas congressmen -- a Democrat and a Republican -- are livestreaming their 1,600 mile drive from San Antonio to Washington, talking to constituents as they sit in traffic and even hit the burger drive-thru. Republican Rep. Will Hurd and Democratic Rep.

Report: 17-year-olds voted illegally in Wisconsin primary

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Dozens of 17-year-olds voted illegally across Wisconsin during last spring's intense presidential primary, apparently wrongly believing they could cast ballots if they turned 18 ahead of the November general election, according to a new state report. Wisconsin Elections Commission staff examined voter fraud referrals municipal clerks said they made to prosecutors following the 2016 spring primary and general elections.

AP Explains: How to transform GOP health care plan into law

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republicans' long-awaited plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has cleared a couple hurdles in the House. The GOP still must navigate a complicated path to turn its 123-page proposal from legislation to law. A look at the process and the politics: ___ WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Republicans have set an aggressive timetable for moving the bill.

GOP leaders claim momentum as health bill clears hurdles

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican leaders drove their long-promised legislation to dismantle Barack Obama's health care law over its first big hurdles in the House on Thursday, claiming fresh momentum despite cries of protest from right, left and center. After grueling all-night sessions, the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees both approved their portions of the bill along party-line votes.