Hillary Clinton calls fake news a 'danger'

WASHINGTON — The Latest on the final days of the congressional session (all times EST):


4:40 p.m.

Hillary Clinton says fake news is an "epidemic" and "a danger that must be addressed and addressed quickly."

Clinton is on Capitol Hill for a portrait unveiling in honor of retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

She says fake news and "malicious false propaganda" can have real impacts and threaten lives, and she is calling on officials in the public and private sectors to take steps to combat them. She noted bipartisan legislation moving forward and is calling for support.

On Sunday, a man fired an assault rifle at a pizza parlor in Washington. He said he had come to investigate the false online stories about a child sex trafficking ring run by prominent Democrats operating out of the restaurant.

Clinton received sustained applause as she stood to speak, ruefully remarking, "This is not exactly the speech at the Capitol I hoped to give" after the election.

She jokes that after spending several weeks in the woods taking selfies, she thought it would be a good idea to emerge.


4:23 p.m.

Hillary Clinton has made her first trip to the Capitol complex since her presidential election loss to Donald Trump.

The former secretary of state and New York senator attended a ceremony for Democratic leader Harry Reid, who is retiring after 30 years in the Senate. A portrait of Reid was unveiled, and Democrats and Republicans joined Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden for the event.

Trump won the Electoral College vote, 306-232. Clinton leads in the popular vote, 65,432,202 to Trump's 62,793,872.

Not far from where the ceremony was held, workers were building the platform on the West Front of the Capitol where Trump will take the oath of office on Jan. 20.


3:50 p.m.

A bipartisan group of senators is urging President-elect Donald Trump to reject Russia's aggression toward Ukraine.

In a letter sent to Trump on Thursday, the 27 Republicans and Democrats say the U.S. should increase political, economic and military support for Ukraine. They say that should include "defensive lethal assistance" to help Ukraine deter future hostilities.

The senators say Russia's "illegal annexation of Crimea should never be accepted."

Moscow annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and supports a pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine. The fighting has killed as many as 10,000 people.

Trump called for a tempered approach to U.S.-Russia relations during the presidential campaign. He also praised Russian President Vladimir Putin's leadership.

Senators Rob Portman of Ohio and Dick Durbin of Illinois organized the letter. They lead the Senate Ukraine Caucus.


2 p.m.

The House has passed a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open beyond Friday's midnight deadline. The bill's fate in the Senate is uncertain.

The measure would fund federal agencies and departments through April 28. It also would expedite the process for confirming President-elect Donald Trump's choice for defense secretary, retired Gen. James Mattis.

The House approved the bill Thursday on a 326-96 vote.

Senate Democrats from coal states are threatening to delay quick passage of the bill. They want more for retired coal miners who have been guaranteed lifetime health and retirement benefits. The bill only provides $45 million to temporarily protect health care benefits for about 16,500 retired coal miners, mostly in Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.


1 p.m.

Congress is sending President Barack Obama a defense policy bill that seeks to give Republicans the final word on key national security issues. The bill rebuffs his attempts to shutter the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and reduce the size of armed forces.

The Senate easily passed the defense legislation Thursday on a vote of 92-7, one week after the House overwhelmingly approved the bill.

The defense bill authorizes $611 billion to run the military in 2017.

The legislation bars the Pentagon from trimming the military's sprawling constellation of bases and facilities, even though senior U.S. defense officials say there is excess capacity.

The bill blocks the Pentagon's planned reductions in the number of active-duty troops by prohibiting the Army from falling below 476,000 soldiers — 16,000 more than Obama's defense budget proposed.


10:16 a.m.

Minority Leader Harry Reid is delivering his final Senate speech after three decades in the chamber.

The Nevada Democrat began by thanking his GOP counterpart, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, for a tribute. In classic fashion, Reid disputed accounts of their poor relationship, saying: "Go ahead and make up all the stories you want about we hate each other, go ahead, but we don't."

Reid talked about his tiny hometown of Searchlight, and about his proudest moment — saving up to buy his mother a new set of teeth.

Family members watched from the gallery, and fellow Democrats and a handful of Republicans looked on from the floor.

Launching into his legislative achievements, Reid said, "I know it's long and somewhat tedious. I've been here a long time, so please be patient."


9:30 a.m.

A spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan says efforts to approve the first major energy bill in nearly a decade have run out of time.

Spokeswoman AshLee Strong says in a statement that House and Senate conferees "were not able to come to agreement on various outstanding issues in time for the House to consider a conference report."

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska disputed Strong's statement, saying, "The reality is that the House is attempting to run us out of time in order to prevent this bill from moving forward."

Murkowski chairs the Senate energy panel She's urging lawmakers in both chambers to keep working on the bill, which would speed exports of liquefied natural gas, reform funding for fighting forest fires and promote land and water conservation, among other provisions.