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The Latest: Trump meets Medal of Honor recipients

Donald Trump Donald Trump | Photo: AP.

March 25, 2017 09:09 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local):

8 p.m.

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President Donald Trump has marked Medal of Honor Day by appearing in the Oval Office with more than two dozen medal recipients.

Trump says they are brave people who rose above and beyond the call of duty to defend the U.S. He says they poured out their hearts, sweat and tears like few others have, and have also given their blood for the country.

Trump says the 75 living Medal of Honor recipients "are much braver than I am."

The president was joined by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin.

The Medal of Honor is America's highest military honor. It is awarded by the president for acts of valor that go above and beyond the call of duty.

Medal of Honor Day is Saturday.

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4:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he would be willing to reopen negotiations for a health care bill with Democrats if the Affordable Care Act fails.

Trump told reporters Friday that he would be "open to it" if Democrats wanted to work on a bipartisan measure. He predicted the current law would soon collapse.

The president says he has a great relationship with the Republican Party and isn't going to speak badly about GOP lawmakers. Still, he said he was a little surprised by the bill's rejection from the conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus.

Trump also said he "never said repeal and replace it within 64 days," though he repeatedly promised during the campaign to do it on Day One of his term.

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4:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump says his health care reform fell short because it lacked support from Democrats.

Trump made his first comments about the failure of a signature legislative item Friday in the Oval Office a short time after a House vote on the bill was cancelled.

Trump told reporters "we were very close" and tried to blame Democrats, through Republicans control both the House and the Senate.

He also predicted the Affordable Care Act would soon implode, forcing Democrats to join the Republicans at the negotiating table.

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3:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump has marked Greek Independence Day with a rather ominous message.

At a White House reception, Trump said that in the years to come "we don't know what will be required to defend our freedom."

But he says it will take "great courage, and we will show it."

Greek Independence Day commemorates the start of the 1821 war that led to Greece's independence after nearly 400 years as part of the Ottoman Empire. It's celebrated annually on March 25.

Trump told the crowd, "I love the Greeks." He also introduced Greek-American members of the White House staff, including chief of staff Reince Priebus (ryns PREE'-bus).

Trump said Priebus is "really terrific and hard-working," along with being "one of the top Greeks in the country."

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1:55 p.m.

The White House is no longer expressing confidence that the upcoming House vote on health care will be successful.

Instead, spokesman Sean Spicer says President Donald Trump is confident that the White House has done "every single thing possible" to corral the 216 votes needed to pass legislation to repeal the Obama-era health care law.

House lawmakers and aides say the bill is short of support before the vote Trump insists be held.

The White House says it expects that vote at 3:30 p.m., as scheduled.

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11:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump is praising a plan by cable company Charter Communications to invest $25 billion and hire 20,000 American workers over the next four years.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Charter Communications CEO Thomas Rutledge joined Trump at the White House for the announcement. Rutledge says that the company will return the call center jobs acquired through Time Warner Cable to the United States, opening a new call center in McAllen, Texas, and hiring 600 workers there.

Trump says the plans will be great for American workers. The president is telling Rutledge, "you watch, it will be one of your really fantastic decisions."

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11 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is postponing a planned trip to Arkansas and Tennessee as the House considers a Republican-backed plan to overhaul the health care system.

Pence's office has confirmed that his trip to Little Rock, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee, has been put off. The vice president had been scheduled to discuss the health care plan at a small business gathering in Little Rock and also travel to Memphis.

Pence has been lobbying House Republicans to support the plan to repeal and replace the health care law. The legislation is expected to go to the House floor for a vote later Friday.

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10:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump says "it's a great day for American jobs" after his administration issued a permit to build the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline.

The decision marks a reversal from the Obama administration and clears the way for the $8 billion project to be completed.

The president says the decision ushers in a "new era" of American energy policy and will reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

The decision caps a years-long fight between environmental groups and energy industry advocates over the pipeline's fate.

It's one of several steps the administration is expected to take in the coming weeks to prioritize economic development over environmental concerns.

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10:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump says, "we'll see what happens," in response to a question about what happens if the vote on the Republican-backed health care bill fails in the House.

Trump is offering his support for House Speaker Paul Ryan at a White House event announcing the presidential permit about the Keystone XL pipeline. Asked if Ryan should remain as speaker if the bill fails, Trump says, "Yes."

The administration is trying to steer a GOP-backed health care bill through the House. The White House and Republican leaders say the vote will be tight and it's unclear if the legislation will pass.

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10:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump will hold his first meeting with Egypt's president next month.

A White House official said Friday that President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi (see-see) will visit the White House on April 3.

The official spoke anonymously because the visit has not been formally announced.

The two leaders spoke by telephone before Trump's inauguration.

Trump has repeatedly mentioned Egypt as one of the Muslim-majority allies that the U.S. should maintain its partnership with in the fight against radical groups like the Islamic State group.

Egypt is a major recipient of U.S. foreign and military aid, however foreign aid is currently under review under Trump proposed budget plan.

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8:40 a.m.

President Donald Trump is telling lawmakers who oppose abortion that a vote against the health care bill would favor Planned Parenthood.

The president tweeted Friday, "the irony is that the Freedom Caucus, which is very pro-life and against Planned Parenthood, allows P.P. to continue if they stop this plan!"

In a bid to coax support from conservatives, House leaders proposed a fresh amendment repealing Obama's requirement that insurers cover 10 specified services like maternity and mental health care.

Lawmakers will vote later Friday.

Conservatives have demanded the removal of those and other conditions the law imposes on insurers, arguing they drive up premiums.

The president met with members of the Freedom Caucus Thursday in an effort to win them over. But the vote was postponed after administration officials fell short.

Credits

(Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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