Kelsey Snell

Kelsey Snell is a Congressional correspondent for NPR. She has covered Congress since 2010 for outlets including The Washington Post, Politico and National Journal. She has covered elections and Congress with a reporting specialty in budget, tax and economic policy. She has a graduate degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. and an undergraduate degree in political science from DePaul University in Chicago.

As coronavirus cases spike across the country, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, says he will participate in a Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial.

Portman says he signed up for the clinical trial for a Janssen-Johnson & Johnson vaccine after receiving a briefing from a Cincinnati-based clinical trial consulting firm.

Updated at 10 a.m. ET

House Democrats started this month hoping, and preparing, to gain seats in the election. Instead, their once-robust majority in the House has dwindled, and Democrats are on track to begin next year with the slimmest majority in decades.

Now members on the progressive left and Democratic Party moderates are again at odds over whose policies won in 2020 and how they should govern as a party.

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Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan has won reelection in Alaska, giving Republicans 50 seats in the Senate and leaving the balance of power in the chamber to be decided in a pair of January runoff elections in Georgia.

The Associated Press called the race for Sullivan more than a week after Election Day after votes trickled in from remote areas of the vast state. Sullivan defeated Al Gross, a surgeon and first-time candidate who raised significant money with the help of national Democrats who hoped a blue wave could help flip the state and the Senate.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET on Nov. 11

Republican Sen. Thom Tillis has won reelection in North Carolina as Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham conceded on Tuesday. Democrats were hoping to oust Tillis and several other GOP incumbents and take control of the Senate next year, but this latest loss is part of what has become a Republican firewall in Southern and Western states that positions the party to retain its majority.

Cunningham said in a statement that he had called Tillis to congratulate him.

President-elect Joe Biden said Friday, as ballots were still being tabulated in states across the country, that voters had spoken loudly to embrace the policies and principles he campaigned on.

"They have given us a mandate for action on COVID and the economy and climate change and systemic racism," Biden said in a late-night speech in Wilmington, Del. "They made it clear they want the country to come together — not pull apart."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., leads a 232-to-197 Democratic majority in the House heading into the election. There are five current vacancies and one
Libertarian, former Republican Justin Amash, R-Mich., who left the party in 2019 in a clash over his plan to vote to impeach President Trump.

Updated at 12:50 p.m. ET

Judge Amy Coney Barrett is set to give a glimpse of her judicial philosophy as her Supreme Court confirmation hearing begins in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday.

Updated at 12:52 p.m.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Wednesday that he and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are discussing potential stand-alone bills for aid to airlines, small businesses and Americans. He said the Trump administration was "still willing to be engaged" on piecemeal aid bills, though it was not optimistic about a comprehensive aid bill.

Updated 1 a.m. ET Thursday

President Trump signed a short-term spending bill into law early Thursday, about an hour after current funding levels expired and averting a federal government shutdown.

Hours earlier the Senate voted 84-10 to approve the bill, which extends current funding levels and keeps the federal government open through Dec. 11

In theory, parts of the government were unfunded for about an hour, but the White House did not address the discrepancy in a brief statement following the signing.

House Democrats have released a $2.2 trillion coronavirus response package as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin attempt to revive long-stalled aid negotiations.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is warning Democrats that they must win the majority, not just of the House of Representatives but a majority of each state delegation, in case the House is called upon to decide the election in January.

Republicans are rejecting a short-term spending bill released Monday after Democrats chose not to include federal farm assistance in the legislation which is meant to avert a government shutdown at the end of September.

There has been bipartisan agreement for weeks on the need for a basic spending stopgap. The disagreement over the bill released Monday means lawmakers have less than two weeks to reach an agreement before federal funding runs out.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Senate will vote on President Trump's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday of complications from cancer.

McConnell released a statement expressing condolences for Ginsburg and followed with a pledge to continue consideration of Trump's judicial nominees.

A central promise of last week's Republican National Convention was a pledge that President Trump would use a second term to build on elements of his first term, with very few updates and changes.

The four days of convention programming showed a Republican Party whose policies are bound to Trump. But GOP divisions over many of those policies prevented much of the 2016 Trump agenda from ever becoming law. And that dynamic was in place well before the coronavirus pandemic changed politics.

A pair of House Democrats are raising questions about whether a member of the U.S. Postal Service board of governors skirted typical practices to influence the hiring of Louis DeJoy as postmaster general.

One of a series of reports looking at Joe Biden's potential running mates.


California Rep. Karen Bass was a relative unknown on the national stage until just a few months ago. Now she is among the contenders to be Joe Biden's pick for his vice presidential running mate.

Senate Republicans are rejecting a White House-backed plan to tuck money for the design and construction of a new FBI headquarters into the latest coronavirus relief bill despite including the funding in a GOP proposal released on Monday.

Republicans rapidly criticized the provision less than a day after the legislation was unveiled. Democrats have accused President Trump of including the money to prevent the existing FBI building, which is across from the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., from being sold and redeveloped into a hotel that might compete with the Trump property.

Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET

Ancient state unemployment systems that struggled to handle the first round of COVID-19 relief payments could take months or more to adopt a White House proposal for modifying the benefits, according to memos obtained by NPR.

Such a lag could mean that the roughly 30 million people currently collecting pandemic-related unemployment benefits would see their income drop from a weekly average of $900 to an average of $300 per week.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

Republican senators and the White House have reached an agreement on major elements of an upcoming coronavirus aid bill but have yet to settle on how to address unemployment benefits that are set to expire at the end of this month.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced late Thursday afternoon that the administration is reviewing the "agreement in principle" and the legislation will be introduced next week.

Washington is racing to complete a fifth round of legislation to address the ongoing, and still surging, coronavirus pandemic in the next three weeks. The two parties and the White House are at odds over what the major pillars of the legislation should include and how much it should cost.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wants to get a bill to President Trump by Aug. 7 when Congress is scheduled to adjourn for the rest of the summer — a time when lawmakers traditionally hit the campaign trail in an election year.

Updated at 7 a.m. ET Saturday

John Lewis — an icon of the civil rights movement, congressman and, for decades, a force in Democratic politics — died at age 80 on Friday.

Lewis had been treated for advanced-stage pancreatic cancer after being diagnosed during a routine medical exam. He publicly disclosed his diagnosis in late December.

Updated at 5:18 p.m. ET

President Trump rebuked New York City's plan to paint "Black Lives Matter" on Fifth Avenue, calling it a "symbol of hate" in a Wednesday morning tweet.

Updated at 12:58 p.m. ET

Senate Democrats, emboldened by a national outcry for reform of the country's law enforcement departments, blocked debate Wednesday on a Republican police reform bill that they said did not go far enough to address racial inequality.

Updated at 5:05 p.m. ET

In wrenching testimony before a House panel Wednesday, George Floyd's younger brother Philonise declared, "They lynched my brother."

"That was a modern-day lynching, in broad daylight," Floyd said, adding, "I still need time to grieve."

Updated at 1 p.m. ET

In the wake of national protests following the death of George Floyd, House and Senate Democrats unveiled legislation on Monday that would bring about wide-ranging reforms to police departments across the country.

The Democratic proposal, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, has more than 200 sponsors and marks one of the most comprehensive efforts in modern times to overhaul the way police do their jobs.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he expects Senate Republicans will begin considering proposals for a "fourth and final" coronavirus response bill to address the needs of the country "in about a month."

McConnell said the bill will be narrowly crafted and will focus in particular on jobs and schools. He said there could be funding for small businesses and health care, but he will not support extending the additional $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits that run out at the end of July.

Democrats said the $3 trillion coronavirus aid bill that was approved last week in the House of Representatives is meant to meet the needs of everyday Americans. Republicans dismissed that same bill as a partisan attempt to enact a longstanding wish list of Democratic policy priorities.

Progressive Democrats don't exactly dispute that.

House lawmakers on Friday approved a Democratic proposal to provide $3 trillion in coronavirus relief that would include a new wave of help for state and local governments, workers and families.

The House voted 208 to 199 — largely along party lines — to pass the measure. The size of the bill represents the biggest ever proposed and it includes another round of direct cash payments to Americans, extends unemployment benefits to the end of January, and adds hazard pay for front-line workers. It also expands virus-testing efforts, contact tracing and treatment.

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Updated at 6:58 a.m. ET Saturday

Congress has authorized roughly $3 trillion in coronavirus relief in four separate measures over the last two months. These bills attempt to protect the American economy from long-term harm caused by stay-at-home orders and respond to the overall impact of the virus.

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