Kelsey Snell | KCUR

Kelsey Snell

Kelsey Snell is a congressional reporter 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.

Updated at 10:05 a.m. ET

Democrats on the 2020 campaign trail are emphasizing their support for expanded abortion rights, but in Washington, House Democrats are preparing to retain a decades-long ban on most federal funding for abortions.

House Democrats looking to undo a decade-long pay freeze for lawmakers are rethinking their plans over fears the legislation could divide their own party.

The fight is pitting pay-increase supporters, like House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., against newer Democrats who fear voters will be angry about lawmakers giving themselves a raise.

Updated at 7:10 p.m. ET

The House has approved a $19.1 billion disaster aid package despite earlier objections from Republicans.

The legislation was approved 354-58. All those who opposed it were Republicans. The Senate already passed the bill overwhelmingly and it heads to the president's desk for his signature.

Texas House Republican Rep. Chip Roy blocked an attempt to pass the $19.1 billion disaster aid bill by unanimous consent, likely stalling passage of the legislation until Congress returns in June.

The Senate approved the measure Thursday 85-8 and House Democrats had hoped to rush the legislation through in a special session on Friday, skipping the regular voting process because lawmakers had already left town to begin a weeklong Memorial Day recess. The procedural vote required the consent of every House member, and Roy did not approve.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

The Senate approved a $19.1 billion disaster aid package Thursday that includes money for states impacted by flooding, recent hurricanes and tornadoes, as well as money for communities rebuilding after wildfires.

The measure passed overwhelmingly — 85-8.

Updated at 4:19 p.m. ET

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will convene a meeting Wednesday morning to hear from Democrats on whether to move forward with impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

Pelosi, a public skeptic of impeachment, is confronting a rising tide of support for it among rank-and-file House Democrats and members of her own leadership team. Democrats are outraged by the Trump administration's ongoing effort to stymie congressional oversight into the president, his administration, and the findings in special counsel Robert Mueller's report.

Updated at 7:56 p.m. ET

House Democrats issued subpoenas on Friday to force Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig to release six years of President Trump's tax returns.

Democrats say the returns include information about Trump and his business dealings that is critical to their constitutional oversight duties. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., issued the subpoena after Mnuchin failed to comply with a request from House Democrats that he voluntarily turn over the returns.

Voters in northwest Illinois have a lot of questions for their congresswoman, Democrat Cheri Bustos. They want to know about rail plans around Moline, federal transportation dollars and health care costs.

If there's one thing she says they don't usually ask about, it's her thoughts on impeaching President Trump.

"We talk about different things here," Bustos said in a recent interview with NPR in her district.

Two House committees have issued subpoenas for information from Deutsche Bank and other financial institutions as part an ongoing investigation into President Trump's finances.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says the path to GOP success in 2020 is running "to be the firewall that saves the country from socialism."

McConnell told reporters Thursday that he is advising all Republican Senate candidates to run on offense by casting themselves as the only alternative to Democrats who want to drive the country to the left.

The Senate voted largely along party lines to change its debate rules — a move that will speed up the confirmation process for some lower-level judicial and agency nominees.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., used a complex procedural maneuver, known as the nuclear option, to cut debate for lower-level nominees from 30 hours to two hours. The change does not apply to Cabinet-level nominees, federal appeals judges, members of some boards and commissions or the Supreme Court. It also does not change the 60-vote requirement to advance legislation.

For Democrats, one of the keys to winning control of the House of Representatives last year was convincing voters in formerly Republican districts that there's more than one way to be a Democrat.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., was one of dozens of new members who ousted Republicans, in part on a pledge to buck party leaders and work across the aisle. Spanberger spent her first three months in office following through on that promise — she voted against Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House and split from Democrats on a number of procedural votes.

House Democrats wanted this to be a week of celebration centered on the passage of their signature bill to overhaul campaign finance, ethics and voting laws. Instead, leaders spent the week working to quell internal divisions and struggling to refocus attention on the party's legislative achievements.

Updated at 9:14 p.m. ET

President Trump will support a border security funding compromise, averting a partial government shutdown early Saturday — but he also will declare a national emergency in order to build the wall he has pushed for along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Spending negotiators may have reached an agreement on an outline to avoid a government shutdown, but the final legislation is still incomplete less than three days before the Friday deadline.

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Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is joining other top Democrats in warning that the road to releasing President Trump's tax returns may be slower than activists are hoping.

Pelosi told reporters on Thursday that she knows "there's this impatience" to see the full picture of Trump's finances but Democrats have to proceed carefully. "It's not a question of just sending a letter," Pelosi said. "You have to do it in a very careful way."

Democrats officially took control of the House of Representatives one month ago with a promise of moving quickly on a fresh agenda centered on protecting health care and making Washington work better.

After a week of tit for tat with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, amid a monthlong government shutdown, the White House is now moving ahead with plans for the president's State of the Union address, proceeding as if it were happening as originally planned next week.

White House officials are aiming for the speech to occur before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, Jan. 29. But it is far from guaranteed. The House must pass a resolution to call a joint session with the Senate before the president can come speak.

Democrats won control of the House of Representatives in November in part by promising to work across the aisle and get things done. Now the newly elected freshmen must decide how they will use their newfound power in the face of the longest partial government shutdown in U.S. history.

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Updated at 5:15 p.m. ET

The White House is working to identify federal dollars that could be redirected to construct a border wall, if President Trump invokes his emergency powers to do so.

Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET

President Trump abruptly halted spending talks at the White House on Wednesday, after congressional Democrats again rejected his demand for a $5.7 billion border wall.

On Twitter, Trump dismissed the negotiations as a "total waste of time," as a partial government shutdown stretched into its 19th day. He added, "I said bye-bye, nothing else works!"

Updated at 10:38 p.m. ET

Democrats again rejected President Trump's demand for a wall on the Southern border following an Oval Office address Tuesday night in which Trump insisted the wall is the only solution to an influx of migration from Mexico and Central America.

Updated at 3:46 p.m. ET

Nancy Pelosi is again speaker of the House, as Democrats retook control of the chamber for the first time in eight years, bringing divided government back to Washington.

The first woman to hold the position, Pelosi is now the first person to reclaim the speaker's gavel in more than six decades.

The California Democrat was elected with 220 votes over California Republican Kevin McCarthy, the new minority leader.

Updated at 4:57 p.m. ET

Six days into a partial government shutdown, congressional Democrats and President Trump are showing no signs of reaching a deal to reopen the government. Instead, it appears the shutdown could last until 2019.

The president has only a few more days to advance any spending agreement with the help of full GOP control in Washington. Democrats take control of the House on Jan. 3, giving them significant new leverage over future spending talks.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Updated at 7:20 p.m. ET

Congressional negotiators have reached an agreement to overhaul the system for handling accusations of sexual misconduct against members, including a requirement that members pay out of pocket for some settlements and court judgments.

Congress voted to delay the threat of a partial government shutdown until Dec. 21 as lawmakers try to avoid political sniping in the midst of the public mourning for former President George H.W. Bush.

The main sticking point in the spending negotiations is President Trump's demand for $5 billion for construction of a wall along the Southwest border between the United States and Mexico.

Congressional leaders are planning to delay a spending fight until after the memorial ceremonies for former President George H.W. Bush are completed.

House leaders are drafting a bill to postpone a potential government shutdown from midnight on Friday night to the end of the day on Dec. 21.

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