The Latest: Ryan says Congress will front money for wall

The Capitol in Washington is seen early Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017, as members of Congress break for political retreats with the Democrats heading to Baltimore and Republicans to Philadelphia. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Congress (all times EST):

7:10 p.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says Congress will front the money for President Donald Trump's newly announced wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

He confirms in an interview on MSNBC that a suggested price tag between $8 billion and $14 billion is "about right."

Ryan also says that there are different ways to get Mexico to pay — something Trump long promised.

But he says the point is Trump promised to secure the border, congressional Republicans agree, and they will work together to finance the construction.


6:40 p.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is endorsing President Donald Trump's call for an investigation into voter fraud.

Trump has claimed falsely that votes from 3 million to 5 million immigrants in the country illegally cost him the popular vote. There's no evidence of that, but Trump announced on Twitter Wednesday that there would be an investigation into potential voter fraud, and action to strengthen voting laws depending on the results.

Ryan has said he's seen no evidence to suggest voter fraud on the scale Trump suggests. But he tells MSNBC that there probably is some fraud, adding, "If there's a concern here then the right thing to do is investigate and find the facts."


6:30 p.m.

The National Rifle Association is accusing "political elites" of forsaking the nation's police in an ad campaign backing President Donald Trump's nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions to become attorney general.

The Alabama Republican has been backed by GOP senators, but Democrats have questioned his commitment to equal rights. They forced a delay in a Senate Judiciary Committee vote on his nomination until next Tuesday.

The 30-second spot shows a police car being fired upon and a distraught officer leaning on a flag-draped coffin.

The narrator says, "After eight years of political elites abandoning police, we need an attorney general who supports police." He also says Sessions will protect gun rights.

The six-figure campaign was to begin running Thursday for a week on national cable television and on some websites.


5:35 p.m.

Congresswoman Liz Cheney is applauding President Donald Trump's plan to review interrogation techniques.

The Wyoming Republican is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, known for advocating enhanced interrogation techniques in the George W. Bush administration.

Cheney says she is "very heartened" to learn of the Trump administration move to conduct a sweeping review of how America conducts the war on terror, including possible resumption of banned interrogation methods.

Speaking to reporters at the congressional Republican retreat in Philadelphia, Cheney says that since stopping the enhanced interrogation program "we're not even in a position anymore frankly where we're very often capturing people."

She also says that enhanced interrogation helped lead to the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, a contention that's widely disputed.


5:15 p.m.

A dozen senators have sent a letter to President Donald Trump accusing him of promoting a "culture of fear among federal employees" that may prevent workers from completing their mission to openly serve the American public.

Democratic Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts and other senators decried media reports that the new Trump administration has imposed a communications blackout on a number of federal agencies. Emails to federal staffers have banned press releases, blog updates or posts to agencies' social media accounts.

The letter says the American people expect an open, transparent and honest government, and says Trump's actions "are not only contrary to that expectation, they promote a long-lasting culture of fear among federal employees."

The letter is signed by 11 Democrats and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.


5:10 p.m.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee says it will meet next Tuesday to vote on the nominations of Ryan Zinke and Rick Perry to head the departments of Interior and Energy, respectively.

The meeting was originally scheduled for this week but was delayed after Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state, the panel's senior Democrat, asked for more time to review Perry's record and policy positions.

A spokeswoman for Cantwell says she still has questions about Perry's stance on energy efficiency and other issues, but hopes to have them answered before the vote.

During his confirmation hearing, Perry, the former governor of Texas, retracted a 2011 statement that he wanted to abolish the Energy Department. He said he now better understands and supports the department's mission, including protecting and modernizing the nation's nuclear stockpile.


5:05 p.m.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard says she met with Syrian President Bashar Assad during a recent trip to the war-torn country.

Appearing on CNN, the Hawaii Democrat says there is no possibility for a viable peace agreement in Syria unless Assad is part of the conversation.

Gabbard says, "Whatever you think about President Assad, the fact is that he is the president of Syria."

Gabbard, a major in the Army National Guard, met last November with Donald Trump shortly after the presidential election. She backed Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent.

She says she took the meeting with Trump over concern that a wing of the Republican Party known as the neocons will grow in influence once Trump's in office. She feared that could push the U.S. more deeply into Syria.