Senate intel leaders pledge Russia probe cooperation

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Pledging cooperation, the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee said Wednesday they would steer clear of politics in their panel's probe of Russian interference in last year's election. They made a point of putting themselves at arm's length from the House investigation marked by partisanship and disputes.

Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials

Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad: ___ March 29 The Telegraph, UK, on Britain formally beginning the process to leave the European Union: This is a historic day for Britain. Today, a UK government triggers Article 50 and begins the process of Brexit. And so the country enters a period of negotiation that, early signs suggest, will be tough, even acrimonious. But the goal is worth some hard work.

The Latest: Senate intel panel working on Russia probe

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Latest on congressional maneuvering around investigations into Russian meddling into United States politics (all times local): 3:23 p.m. The Senate intelligence committee chairman says his panel's "challenge" is to answer for Americans whether President Donald Trump was directly involved in Russia's meddling in the 2016 election. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., called the investigation the biggest he's seen since he was elected to Congress.

Democratic Rep. appears ready to announce challenge to Cruz

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas said Wednesday he is preparing for a campaign announcement in El Paso and insisted GOP Sen. Ted Cruz is beatable. "He's been running for president for four years while he should have been serving the people in Texas," said the 44-year-old third-term congressman, who would enter next year's contest against Cruz as a considerable underdog in Republican-leaning Texas.

Perez asks for Democratic Party staff resignations

ATLANTA (AP) -- New Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez is asking all paid party employees to resign as he tries to rebuild the embattled organization. Perez spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa confirms that the chairman is overhauling the DNC's internal structure in the coming weeks. Some staffers will be rehired for permanent positions.

Questions, answers about funding threats to sanctuary cities

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Trump administration is issuing a fresh threat to withhold or revoke law enforcement grant money from communities that refuse to cooperate with federal efforts to find and deport immigrants in the country illegally. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement this week combined two issues at the fore of the promised crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities.

The Latest: Another effort at 'bathroom bill' fix fizzles

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The Latest on efforts at the North Carolina legislature to repeal or replace a state law limiting LGBT protections and which public restrooms transgender people can use (all times local): 8 p.m. Another effort to craft legislation to get rid of North Carolina's "bathroom's bill" and halt more economic losses appears gone as Republicans and Democrats point fingers over whether an agreement ever existed. The GOP-controlled legislature and Democratic Gov.

House GOP blocks effort by Democrats to obtain Trump's taxes

WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Republicans on Tuesday blocked more attempts by Democrats to obtain President Donald Trump's tax returns from the IRS. House Democrats tried for a third and a fourth time to use procedural votes to pry loose Trump's returns. Republicans blocked both efforts, one on the House floor and the other in the House Ways and Means Committee. The House voted 228-190 on a mostly party-line vote to block the Democrats' effort.

Questions, answers about funding threats to sanctuary cities

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Trump administration is issuing a fresh threat to withhold or revoke law enforcement grant money from communities that refuse to cooperate with federal efforts to find and deport immigrants in the country illegally. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement Monday combined two issues at the fore of the promised crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities.

Watchdog to examine cost, security of Trump's Florida trips

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A government watchdog will examine the taxpayer-funded travel costs when President Donald Trump travels to the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and the security procedures surrounding those trips, several congressional Democrats announced Tuesday. The lawmakers requested the inquiry by the Government Accountability Office after reports that Trump, accompanied by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, openly discussed North Korea's launch of a ballistic missile while at the resort.

McConnell confident Dems won't keep Gorsuch off high court

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A showdown loomed over President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Tuesday as the number of Democrats opposing Judge Neil Gorsuch grew to more than 25. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged Gorsuch would be confirmed next week regardless of the Democratic opposition. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, was joined Tuesday by more than half-a-dozen other senators who announced their intention to vote against Gorsuch.

Democratic senator asks drugmakers about opioid sales plans

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Democratic senator is seeking marketing information, sales records and studies from manufacturers of the top-selling opioid products in the United States to determine whether drugmakers have contributed to an overuse of the pain killers. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri said that sales of prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999, taking a financial toll on the government and a deadly toll on thousands of consumers.

The Latest: Warner says White House not dispelling suspicion

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Latest on an investigation into purported ties between Trump associates and Russia (all times local): 1:50 p.m. The top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee says White House meddling in Congress' Russia investigations is not helping to lift the cloud of suspicion that hangs over the Trump administration. Virginia Sen.

States push to protect birth control despite failed GOP bill

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) -- Even with the Republican failure to repeal Barack Obama's health care law, Democratic lawmakers in some states are pressing ahead with efforts to protect birth control access, Planned Parenthood funding and abortion coverage in case they are jeopardized in the future. Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives withdrew a bill last week that would have repealed Obama's Affordable Care Act.

White House looks to bounce back after health care loss

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Regrouping after a rocky few weeks, the White House declared Monday that President Donald Trump doesn't consider the health care battle to be over, suggesting he may turn to Democrats to help him overhaul the system after his own party rejected his proposal. The sudden interest in bipartisanship is a shift for a president who has spent months mocking Democratic leaders as inept.

AP EXPLAINS: What is the Senate's 'nuclear option'?

WASHINGTON (AP) -- To blow up the rules or not? Senate Republicans and Democrats appear to be on collision course over President Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court and whether to changes Senate rules to get him confirmed. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has announced that he will vote no on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch and lead a filibuster of the selection.

Visit to WH grounds by intel chairman clouds investigation

WASHINGTON (AP) -- House intelligence chairman Devin Nunes went to the White House grounds to review intelligence reports and meet the secret source behind his claim that communications involving associates of President Donald Trump were caught up in "incidental" surveillance, the Republican congressman said Monday. Nunes' revelation prompted the top Democrat on the committee, Rep.

Minnesota Democratic Rep. Walz to retire, run for governor

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Rep. Tim Walz, a five-term Democrat, says he is running for governor of his home state of Minnesota. Walz is seeking to replace Gov. Mark Dayton, a fellow Democrat. A spokesman for Walz' gubernatorial campaign confirmed his decision. Walz is the top Democrat on the Veterans Affairs Committee. He first won election to his rural district along Minnesota's southern border in 2006, defeating GOP incumbent Gil Gutknecht.