GOP to try to fast track waiver for Mattis to become secretary of defense

Updated 4:10 p.m.: Congressional Republicans may include in a must-pass government spending bill a provision aimed at accelerating the confirmation of retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis to be defense secretary.

Capitol Hill aides say the measure, if it’s added, would essentially fast-track the legislative waiver required for President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to serve in the Pentagon’s top civilian post. A law prohibits an officer from leading the Defense Department before he has been out of the military for seven years. Mattis retired in 2013.

The goal is to get a vote on the waiver legislation soon after lawmakers begin the 115th Congress in early January.

Claude Chafin, a House Armed Services Committee spokesman, says there is no discussion about including the waiver for Mattis in the spending bill, known as a continuing resolution.

He says what’s under consideration are the “procedures for how the waiver will be considered.”

Trump plans thank-you rallies this week

Updated 3:30 p.m.: President-elect Donald Trump is thanking supporters this week at rallies in a trio of battleground states.

Aides to the Manhattan real estate magnate told reporters Monday that he’ll take breaks from interviewing candidates for his administration to hold evening rallies in states that helped him defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 election.

They say that after meeting with candidates Tuesday, Trump will hold an event in Fayetteville, North Carolina, followed by rallies Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa, and Friday in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In-between, Trump is holding meetings with candidates for secretary of state and other positions.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Coverage of President-elect Donald Trump (all times EST):

Joe Manchin, Donald Trump talk

Updated 3 p.m.: Sen. Joe Manchin says he had a “wide-ranging and constructive” conversation with President-elect Donald Trump last week and says he’s looking forward to talking to Trump again in a few days.

The West Virginia Democrat says he’s a believer in setting aside “partisan politics to do what’s right” for his constituents.

There’s been speculation that Manchin might be asked to join the incoming administration’s Cabinet.

Manchin is up for re-election in 2018 and could face a challenging race since Trump carried West Virginia by 42 points last month. But he’s always had a strong political brand in the Mountaineer State and recently called himself a “born-in-the-wool West Virginia Democrat.”

Al Gore says meeting Donald Trump was ‘productive’

Updated 1:10 p.m.: Former Vice President Al Gore says he had a “productive” meeting with President-elect Donald Trump.

Gore met with Trump at Trump Tower on Monday and spoke briefly to reporters afterward. He categorized his meeting as a “sincere search for common ground.”

He also dubbed it “an extremely interesting conversation” but when asked what was discussed he only said “to be continued” before leaving.

Gore says he also met with Ivanka Trump, the president-elect’s daughter. Transition officials said earlier Monday that the two would discuss climate change, which is Gore’s signature issue.

The president-elect called man-made climate change a hoax and has pledged to undo a number of regulations to protect the environment.

White House warns against undermining China relations

Updated 12:45 p.m.: The White House says progress in the United States’ relationship with China could be “undermined” if the issue of Taiwan’s sovereignty flares up.

The comments from White House spokesman Josh Earnest follow President-elect Donald Trump’s phone call last week with Taiwan’s president.

Earnest says Obama administration officials have been in touch with their Chinese counterparts to reiterate the U.S. support for the “One China” policy. The policy does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation.

Earnest says it’s “hard to determine” what Trump’s aims were in speaking to Taiwan’s leader. He also said it’s unclear whether it helps Taiwan if this issue is raised.

Iowa governor considered to be China ambassador

Updated 12:30 p.m.: Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is meeting with President-elect Donald Trump this week amid speculation he could become the next U.S. ambassador to China.

Branstad told reporters Monday he has a tentative appointment to meet with Trump while the Republican governor is in New York for an economic development trip scheduled from Tuesday to Thursday.

At a rally in Sioux City, Iowa, before the election, Trump had praised Branstad’s knowledge of trade and called him a “prime candidate to take care of China.”

Branstad said Monday that Trump hasn’t offered him a position. Although Branstad didn’t directly reference becoming U.S. ambassador to China, he told reporters he’s had discussions recently with his family about possibly moving to China.

Trump won Iowa and will hold a rally Thursday in Des Moines.

D.C. mayor to meet with Trump

Updated 12:05 p.m.: District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser is scheduled to meet with President-elect Donald Trump.

LaToya Foster, a spokeswoman for Bowser, said the mayor will meet with Trump, at her request. Foster says the issues on the agenda are public safety, education, unemployment, infrastructure and D.C. statehood.

Bowser, a Democrat, has noted that 93 percent of District residents voted for candidates other than Trump, and that “some mending of relationships” is needed.

Bowser skipped the highly publicized grand opening of Trump’s hotel.

House majority leader cool on idea of tariffs

Updated 11:40 a.m.: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy says imposing tariffs on companies that move their operations overseas could result in a trade war.

President-elect Donald Trump said Sunday he’d impose a 35 percent tax on companies that close U.S. factories, then relocate abroad and try to sell their products back to the United States.

Republicans have long opposed such an approach, and it would likely need congressional approval.

McCarthy tried to downplay suggestions that Trump’s proposal flew in the face of long-held GOP principles.

But he said that comprehensive tax reform would be a better way of keeping companies and jobs in this country.

“I think that’s a better way of solving the problem than getting into a trade war with a 35 percent tariff,” the California Republican told reporters at the Capitol Monday.

Ivanka Trump meets with Al Gore

Updated 11 a.m.: Ivanka Trump is meeting with former Vice President Al Gore, who is an aggressive advocate on the idea that humans are causing climate change.

Ivanka Trump is a member of her father’s transition team, and aides told reporters Monday that the session would take place later in the day.

President-elect Donald Trump said on the campaign trail that man-made climate change is a hoax. Gore told supporters of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton last month that Trump would walk away from international efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Ivanka Trump is viewed as being to the left of most Republicans on a range of issues, including climate change.

Rohrabacher claims to be secretary of state contender

Updated 8:59 a.m.: Rep. Dana Rohrabacher claims he is under consideration to become the next secretary of state and says it’s “terrific” that President-elect Donald Trump flouted decades of U.S. diplomatic convention by speaking directly to the leader of Taiwan.

Trump’s phone call irritated China, whose leaders consider Taiwan a rogue province. Trump defended the contact in a tweet and accused China of economic policies that Trump says hurt the U.S.

Rohrabacher told Fox News on Monday that it’s not as though Trump violated any treaties.

He said: “I think it was a terrific message to them that we’re no longer going to be pushovers, and there’s going to be consequences for their hostile and aggressive actions.”

Rohrabacher is a California Republican known for his favorable views of Russia.

Ben Carson to lead HUD

Updated 6:19 a.m.: Donald Trump has chosen former campaign 2016 rival Ben Carson to become secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Trump’s decision, announced early Monday by his transition office, comes as the real estate mogul continues a series of interviews, meetings with aides and other deliberations aimed at forming his administration.

In a statement, Trump says he’s “thrilled to nominate” Carson, saying he “has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities.”

Carson has been coy about joining the new administration, saying shortly after Trump’s election victory that he wasn’t certain he’d fit into a Cabinet-style role. The discussion at that time centered on speculation that Carson might be selected to head the sprawling Department of Health and Human Services.

Trump’s statement Monday says, “Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a presidency representing all Americans.”

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