President Donald Trump shakes hands with National Governors Association Chair Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, during a dinner reception for the annual National Governors Association winter meeting Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the State Dining Room of the White House, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The Latest: White House to seek big boost in defense dollars

February 26, 2017 - 10:54 pm

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

10:50 p.m.

The White House is preparing to propose boosting defense spending and slashing funding for longtime Republican targets like the Environmental Protection Agency.

Those changes are part of a set of marching orders to agencies as the White House prepares its budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

President Donald Trump's proposal for the 2018 budget year will be sent to agencies Monday. An administration official says it won't make significant changes to Social Security or Medicare. The official, as well as Capitol Hill aides, are confirming details of the upcoming blueprint on the condition of anonymity to discuss nonpublic information and a sensitive process.

Trump's first major fiscal marker will land in the agencies one day before his first address to a joint session of Congress.

—Associated Press writer Julie Pace


9:15 p.m.

The White House is moving to propose slashing cuts to longtime Republican targets like the Environmental Protection Agency in a set of marching orders to agencies as it prepares its budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Capitol Hill aides say the White House budget office on Monday will send agencies proposed levels for the 2018 budget year. The aides are speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss nonpublic information and a sensitive process.

The Pentagon is due for a huge boost, but many nondefense agencies and foreign aid programs are facing cuts. The specific numbers aren't final and agencies will have a chance to argue against the cuts.

Trump's budget is expected in mid-March. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox News on Sunday that the first Trump budget won't cut popular benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

—Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor


8 p.m.

President Donald Trump is toasting the nation's governors at the White House, joking with them "it's such an easy job."

Trump is welcoming 46 governors and their spouses for the annual black-tie ball at the White House. It's the first major social event under the Trump administration.

The president will be meeting with the governors on Monday at the White House. He says "perhaps health care will come up," a nod to the effort in Congress to repeal and replace the sweeping health care law approved under former President Barack Obama.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat and the chairman of the National Governors Association, led the governors in a toast of Trump.


7 p.m.

President Donald Trump's choice to be secretary of the Navy, businessman Philip Bilden, says he is withdrawing from consideration for the post, citing concerns about privacy and separating himself from his business interests.

Bilden's withdrawal raises similar issues to that of Vincent Viola, Trump's nominee for Army secretary who stepped aside earlier this month.

Bilden was an intelligence officer in the Army Reserve from 1986-1996. He relocated to Hong Kong to set up an Asian presence for HarbourVest Partners LLC, a global private equity management firm. Bilden recently retired from HarbourVest Partners after 25 years.

In a statement released by the Pentagon, Bilden says he determined that he will not be able to satisfy the Office of Government Ethics requirements without what he calls "undue disruption and materially adverse divestment of my family's private financial interests."

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says in a statement that he will make a recommendation to Trump for a nominee in the coming days.


12:30 p.m.

The White House is dodging questions about whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions should consider withdrawing from the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

A prominent Republican, California Rep. Darrell Issa, has called for a special prosecutor and said it would be improper for Sessions to lead the investigation as the nation's chief law enforcement official. Sessions was an early supporter of President Donald Trump's candidacy.

Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is steering clear of directly answering whether the former Alabama senator should step aside from overseeing the bureau's investigation.

She tells ABC's "This Week" that congressional committees need to complete their own investigations, and then it would be appropriate to discuss Sessions' role.

But those are separate reviews, independent of the FBI's work.


12:15 p.m.

The White House says that when President Donald Trump skips the White House Correspondents' Association dinner, expect him to spend that Saturday night in April "focused on what he can to do to help better America."

The dinner attracts politicians, journalists and celebrities and is typically attended by the president, who's often roasted.

Trump isn't saying why he won't be there. He has railed against "the fake news media," saying it is "the enemy of the American people."

Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says it's "kind of naive of us to think that we can all walk into a room for a couple of hours and pretend that some of that tension isn't there."

She tells ABC's "This Week" that Trump wasn't elected "to spend his time with reporters and celebrities."

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