• The Latest: Fla. lawmaker being evaluated by doctors

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

    10 p.m.

    An aide to a Florida congressman who was wheeled out of the Capitol on a stretcher Wednesday says he "did not suffer a heart attack, but he continues to be evaluated by doctors."

    Kelly Simpson, Rep. John Rutherford's chief of staff, says he is "is conscious, alert, and in good spirits."

    The 64-year-old Republican worked in law enforcement for 41 years and served as sheriff in Jacksonville, Florida, before being elected to Congress last November. He represents Florida's 4th Congressional District.

    Simpson says further updates on Rutherford's condition "will be provided once doctors have finished their evaluation."


    7:10 p.m.

    A freshman congressman from Florida, John Rutherford, has been wheeled out of the Capitol on a stretcher.

    No other information is available about Rutherford's condition. His office did not immediately return requests inquiring about his condition.

    The 64-year-old Republican worked in law enforcement for 41 years and served as sheriff in Jacksonville, Florida, before being elected to Congress last November. He represents Florida's 4th Congressional District.


    6:50 p.m.

    The GOP-led House has approved a bill that would overhaul how government regulations are enacted by prohibiting the most costly rules from taking effect until courts can resolve litigation challenging their enactment, among numerous other changes.

    The bill has passed, 238-183.

    It is the third regulatory overhaul passed in the House during the first two weeks of the 115th Congress, but all three measures face difficult prospects in the Senate.

    The legislation incorporates several measures passed by the House in previous sessions. Republicans say the changes sought would reduce costs on businesses and make it easier for businesses to hire workers and grow the economy.

    Opponents say the bill would make it difficult, if not impossible, to put in place any new safeguards for the public, no matter the issue.


    6:20 p.m.

    Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, President-elect Donald Trump's choice for energy secretary, says he has stepped down from the boards of two energy companies that are developing the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline project.

    Perry said in a letter to ethics officials that he stepped down Dec. 31 from the boards of directors of Energy Transfer Partners LP and Sunoco Logistics Partners LP. The companies are developing the proposed 1,200-mile crude oil pipeline that has stoked mass protests in North Dakota.

    Perry said he still owns stock in the companies but will divest the stock within three months of his confirmation. He says he will not take part in any decisions involving the two companies for at least two years.


    6 p.m.

    Sen. Marco Rubio is frustrated with how Donald Trump's choice for secretary of state handled his confirmation hearing.

    Rubio says Rex Tillerson didn't seize the opportunity to forcefully rebuke countries failing to respect human rights.

    Rubio is lecturing the former Exxon Mobil CEO on the importance of being the nation's top diplomat and the need to stand up for people around the world.

    Rubio says, "They look to the United States."

    The Florida Republican says he is discouraged Tillerson didn't declare Russian President Vladimir Putin a war criminal or call Saudi Arabia and the Philippines human rights violators.

    Rubio's opinion could prove pivotal when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee votes on Tillerson's nomination. The panel is comprised of 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats.


    5:55 p.m.

    A Missouri congressman tells House Speaker Paul Ryan he's concerned the speaker will follow up on "vigilante censorship" in the House by removing a painting that's at the center of a dispute about its appropriateness to be displayed on Capitol Hill.

    Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay says in a letter to Ryan that removal of the painting, after hanging six months without controversy, "would be a naked and unprecedented act of censorship and thought control" that would lead to litigation.

    The painting won a student arts competition in Clay's district and depicts a scene involving police officers pointing their guns at an African-American man. One of the officers resembles a pig, with an elongated face and tusks. Some GOP lawmakers and police groups say it's offensive.


    4:30 p.m.

    Rex Tillerson says he doesn't agree with President-elect Donald Trump's suggestion that the world would be "better off" if countries like Japan and South Korea had nuclear capabilities.

    Trump's choice for secretary of state is telling the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he doesn't believe "anyone advocates for more nuclear weapons on the planet."

    Sen. Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, pressed Tillerson to respond to Trump's musings during the presidential campaign about America's allies in the Pacific having the means to defend themselves from the growing nuclear threat in North Korea.

    "Do you agree with that or disagree with that?" Markey asked.

    "I do not agree," Tillerson responded.


    3:55 p.m.

    Donald Trump's choice for secretary of state likens China's island building in the disputed South China Sea to Russia's annexation of Crimea.

    He says it has to stop.

    Rex Tillerson says in his confirmation hearing that China's actions are "extremely worrisome" and the U.S. failure to respond "has allowed them to keep pushing the envelope."

    He says the U.S. must make clear to China that access to the islands won't be allowed.

    His remarks are sure to anger China, which claims sovereignty over much of the South China Sea.

    Over objections by the U.S. and rival claimants, China has reclaimed thousands of acres of land and constructed military-grade infrastructure, and reportedly installed weaponry.


    3:30 p.m.

    Rex Tillerson says Islam is a "great faith" and he doesn't support the "blanket rejection" of people from the United States because of their religion.

    President-elect Donald Trump said during the presidential campaign that if elected, he would implement a total ban on Muslims entering the United States. Trump has since proposed "extreme vetting."

    Tillerson, Trump's choice for secretary of state, is telling the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the U.S. has to be "very clear-eyed" about the threat posed by the Islamic State and other extremist groups.


    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.

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