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Trump stresses antiabortion focus in appeal to evangelicals

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation on Thursday that would allow transgender people to serve openly in the military, after the Supreme Court last month moved to allow President Trump’s transgender troop ban to go into effect.

The legislation was introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, in the Senate and Representatives Jackie Speier, Democrat of California, Joseph Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, John Katko, Republican of New York, Susan Davis, Democrat of California, and Anthony Brown, Democrat of Maryland, in the House.

It would prohibit the Department of Defense from denying the enlistment or continued service of transgender people solely on the basis of their gender identity.

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In July 2017, Trump abruptly announced in a tweet that he would ban transgender people from serving in the military, a move that reversed an Obama administration rule.

Several lower courts have blocked the Trump administration’s policy. Last month, the Supreme Court allowed Trump’s restrictions to go into effect, even as the legal battle continues.

Washington Post

Trump touts antiabortion policies at prayer breakfast

WASHINGTON — President Trump used an appearance at a high-profile religious gathering Thursday to stress antiabortion policies and appeal to conservative, Christian voters as the 2020 election campaign gets underway.

‘‘As part of our commitment to building a just and loving society, we must build a culture that cherishes the dignity and sanctity of innocent human life,’’ Trump said at the annual National Prayer Breakfast. ‘‘All children, born and unborn, are made in the holy image of God.’’

That pledge, two days after Trump in his State of the Union address denounced late-term abortion, is part of his effort to re-energize evangelical voters, who have been among his most loyal supporters and will be vital to his reelection prospects.

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‘‘I will never let you down,’’ Trump told an audience that included members of his Cabinet and Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom he did not acknowledge. ‘‘As president I will always cherish, honor and protect the believers who uplift our communities and sustain our nation,’’ he said.

NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue accused Trump of shifting his focus to abortion only because of his weakened political standing and to help him fend off a potential Republican primary challenge.

‘‘With his poll numbers in a free fall due to his government shutdown and the ongoing investigations into him, his family, his White House, his business, his foundation, his inaugural committee and his transition, Donald Trump’s newfound love of talking about abortion is all about throwing red meat to his shrinking political base in hopes of political survival,’’ she said in a statement.

Trump also praised Karen Pence, the wife of Vice President Mike Pence, as an ‘‘incredible second lady’’ and noted that she recently began teaching art classes at a Christian school in Northern Virginia.

The Immanuel Christian School has been criticized for its policy barring gay students, parents and employees.

Associated Press

Ivanka Trump announces new effort for women

WASHINGTON — Ivanka Trump, the daughter of the president and a senior White House adviser, announced a new global effort Thursday to help 50 million women in the developing world by 2025.

‘‘This new initiative will for the first time coordinate America’s commitment to one of the most undervalued resources in the developing world — the talent, ambition, and genius of women,’’ Trump wrote in an commentary for the Wall Street Journal that announced the news. For the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, the US government will team up with several private companies such as UPS and Pepsi to ‘‘facilitate complementary private-sector investments to achieve our shared goals,’’ Trump said.

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But despite the initiative’s ambitions, it is unclear how the White House-led fund would fit into the president’s broader skepticism about foreign aid. Notably, the government funding for the project will come from the US Agency for International Development — an organization whose funding President Trump has repeatedly tried to cut.

The relatively small sum the US government has allocated for the fund — $50 million designed to help 50 million people — also stood out to critics.

‘‘$1 per woman, or rather $0.02 per woman, once you subtract the money WalMart and others will spend on glossy, self-congratulatory advertisements,’’ Brad Simpson, a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, wrote on Twitter.

Washington Post