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January 18, 2017

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The Latest: Congressman in freedom of expression controversy

Updated Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017 | 4:25 a.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on activities in Congress: (All times EST):

7:00 a.m.

A Missouri congressman will return to its Capitol Hill location a painting that has offended some lawmakers.

Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay says protests of the artwork are a "manufactured controversy." He plans to argue Tuesday that freedom of expression, even in artwork some find offensive, is essential to liberty.

The painting shows a pig in a police uniform aiming a gun at a protester. GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter removed it from an area reserved for winners of a nationwide art competition.

In prepared remarks obtained by The Associated Press, Clay says there are other works of art at the Capitol that he and constituents find offensive, citing a portrait of the late Sen. James Eastland, a staunch segregationist.

3:25 a.m.

Republican anxiety is mounting over voting to unravel the health care law without having an alternative in hand, fanned by words of encouragement from Donald Trump to a GOP senator who wants to simultaneously repeal and replace the statute.

GOP leaders have made dismantling President Barack Obama's treasured health care overhaul their premier 2017 priority. But even as the Republican-run Senate moves toward passing a budget that would make it harder for Democrats to protect Obama's law later, at least six GOP senators have expressed qualms about repeal without having a substitute — something Republicans have failed for years to produce.

Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander says in an interview that lawmakers "should start immediately to repeal, reform and replace Obamacare, and it shouldn't be finally repealed until we have a replacement ready."