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The Latest: Longtime Texas GOP Rep. Sam Johnson to retire

The Latest: Longtime Texas GOP Rep. Sam Johnson to retire

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

11:42 a.m.

Longtime Texas Republican Congressman Sam Johnson has announced he will retire at the end of the term.

The 86-year-old Johnson was a fighter pilot in Vietnam and Korea before his election to Congress in 1990. He spent seven years as a prisoner of war in the notorious Hanoi Hilton.

On Capitol Hill, Johnson has been a stalwart conservative as a fierce defender of gun rights, an opponent of tax increases, and a hawk on military matters.

He attracted attention recently when introducing legislation to curb Social security benefits.

Johnson has slowed in recent years and told supporters that "the Lord has made clear that the season of my life in Congress is coming to an end."

Speaker Paul Ryan called Johnson "the greatest living man I know."


9:30 a.m.

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio says he won't support his Senate colleague Jeff Sessions, who is President-elect Donald Trump's pick for attorney general.

Brown says he met with Sessions this week and says the Alabama Republican has a civil rights record "at direct odds with the task of promoting justice and equality for all."

The Ohio senator says the U.S. needs leaders who can ensure strong voting rights and reform the criminal justice system.

Brown said Friday he also pressed Sessions on the Justice Department's role in helping Cleveland improve relations between police and community. The city and the federal government are working together through a consent decree, something Sessions has opposed in the past.


8:05 a.m.

Republicans who once offered unstinting support for US intelligence agencies and sustained criticism of Russia have changed their message.

Today, as Donald Trump questions intelligence assessments about Russian hacking and offers praise for Vladimir Putin, many congressional Republicans are backing him up.

Far from strongly defending the U.S. intelligence community, they're siding with the president-elect, even when he makes comments or takes stances that would seem anathema to the GOP.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says Trump is right to be concerned about partisans trying to use Russian hacking to question the legitimacy of his victory.

It's a remarkable turnabout for a political party that cheered President Ronald Reagan's hard-line stance against the "evil empire" of the Soviet Union and joined European allies in blistering Putin after Russia's annexation of Crimea.