Aug 23, 2:55 PM EDT

The Latest: Trump signs bill to streamline veterans' appeals

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AP Photo/Alex Brandon

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

2:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump has signed into law a bill that would cut the amount of time the Department of Veterans Affairs takes to decide veterans' appeals of their disability payments.

Trump described the bill as "a big one" as he readied his pen at a signing ceremony at an American Legion event in Reno, Nevada.

The legislation will overhaul the process by allowing veterans to file "express" appeals if they waive their right to a hearing, or allow them to submit new evidence. Veterans currently could wait five years or more to resolve their disability appeals.

The department provides $63.7 billion in compensation annually to about 4.1 million veterans living with disabling conditions suffered during military service.

The changes would apply almost entirely to newly filed appeals, not the existing backlog.


2:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump is offering kind words to a Nevada senator who is up for re-election and with whom he has openly and repeatedly feuded.

Trump gave a shout-out to Republican Sen. Dean Heller as he kicked off a speech at the American Legion's national convention Wednesday.

Trump said: "Dean Heller is here. Someplace, or will shortly be here" and thanked the senator for attending.

The comments came a day after Trump criticized two other incumbents, Sen. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona, during an angry rally in their state.

After Heller announced his opposition to an initial health overhaul bill in June, a group linked to Trump launched a hard-hitting ad campaign against him.


2:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump is saluting the American Legion's commitment to service and urging the nation to follow its example.

Trump was speaking at the group's national convention in Nevada, and he noted the group's diversity. Trump said that those in uniform came from "different backgrounds" and "all different walks of life."

He said that the members are all "on one team" and that the citizens throughout the nation should try to emulate their behavior.

Trump's pitch for unity in Reno stands in stark contrast to his angry, divisive remarks the night before at a campaign rally in Phoenix. During that meandering speech, Trump attacked fellow Republicans and went on a lengthy diatribe against the news media.


11 a.m.

President Donald Trump is set to speak at an American Legion convention and the White House says he plans to talk about seeking "a new unity."

The White House says the president - in his speech later Wednesday in Reno, Nevada - will say it's "time to heal the wounds that have divided us and to seek a new unity based on the common values that unite us."

Look for Trump to say: "We are one people, with one home, and one flag."

The Nevada appearance is coming after Trump's rally Tuesday night in Phoenix, when he lashed out at the media and criticized Arizona's two Republican senators.

Trump has pushed back against media coverage of his response to the violence at a Charlottesville, Virginia, protest organized by white supremacists.


10 a.m.

President Donald Trump is naming Senate Republican names.

Trump on Wednesday morning tweeted that he loves "the Great State of Arizona." But he added that he was "not a fan of Jeff Flake, weak on crime & border!"

The president woke up in Arizona the day after a campaign rally in Phoenix.

He repeatedly lashed out at the media during the event and skewered both of Arizona's Republican senators, insisting that his coy refusal to mention their names Tuesday night showed a "very presidential" restraint.

But he went after Flake by name the next morning. Flake has been very critical of the president.

Trump has also criticized the state's senior senator, John McCain, for casting the deciding vote that doomed the Republican health care bill. McCain is battling brain cancer.


3:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump is blaming the media for the condemnation of his response to violence at a Charlottesville, Virginia, protest organized by white supremacists.

He opened his political rally Tuesday in Phoenix Tuesday evening with calls for unity, and an assertion that "our movement is about love," but then quickly erupted in anger

Trump shouted he'd "openly called for healing unity and love" in the immediate aftermath of Charlottesville and had simply been misrepresented in news coverage.

The president acknowledged his advisers had urged him to stay on message, and that he simply could not. He left no doubt that he plans to pardon former sheriff Joe Arpaio (ahr-PY'-oh), convicted of disobeying court orders to stop his immigration patrols. He said he had chosen not to on Tuesday to avoid "controversy."

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