Claudia Grisales

Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.

Before joining NPR in June 2019, she was a Capitol Hill reporter covering military affairs for Stars and Stripes. She also covered breaking news involving fallen service members and the Trump administration's relationship with the military. She also investigated service members who have undergone toxic exposures, such as the atomic veterans who participated nuclear bomb testing and subsequent cleanup operations.

Prior to Stars and Stripes, Grisales was an award-winning reporter at the daily newspaper in Central Texas, the Austin American-Statesman, for 16 years. There, she covered the intersection of business news and regulation, energy issues and public safety. She also conducted a years-long probe that uncovered systemic abuses and corruption at Pedernales Electric Cooperative, the largest member-owned utility in the country. The investigation led to the ousting of more than a dozen executives, state and U.S. congressional hearings and criminal convictions for two of the co-op's top leaders.

Grisales is originally from Chicago and is an alum of the University of Houston, the University of Texas and Syracuse University. At Syracuse, she attended the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, where she earned a master's degree in journalism.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Americans are looking to Washington for coronavirus relief. But after nearly two weeks of talks, leaders from both parties can only seem to agree that they are nowhere close to a deal.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Arizona Democratic Rep. Raúl Grijalva is nervous.

Last week, the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee tested positive for COVID-19 in the latest outbreak on Capitol Hill.

And although Grijalva is asymptomatic, he's worried because he's 72 years old and an admitted on-and-off smoker.

Updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, who during the pandemic has repeatedly refused to wear a mask in public, tested positive for the coronavirus.

His positive test was caught during a routine screening at the White House, Gohmert said. He was slated to attend a trip to West Texas with President Trump.

Updated at 9:10 p.m. ET

After days of delays, congressional Republicans rolled out their proposal for a fifth wave of pandemic relief aid on Monday, setting the stage for a showdown with Democrats, who say the two sides remain far apart.

The plan, which was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., focuses on new funding for schools and a new round of payments to Americans and allows for some additional wage replacement for unemployed workers.

Updated at 12:43 p.m. ET

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


In combat and in Congress, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth has seen a lot of firsts.

Maryland Democratic Rep. Anthony Brown is African American, and as an Army combat veteran he knows first hand about the military's tributes to the Confederacy.

Brown served at four of the 10 Army installations named for Confederate officers.

Updated at 11:55 a.m. ET

Several Republican senators say they will not attend the Republican National Convention to renominate President Trump in Jacksonville, Fla., in August.

House Democrats made good on their plans to respond to a national outcry for reform of the nation's law enforcement departments, with the chamber approving wide-ranging efforts to overhaul the way police do their jobs.

On Thursday, the House and Senate will be in session at the same time, for the first time, since the pandemic began more than three months ago.

While the 100-member Senate resumed its regular floor business in May, the much larger House of Representatives has met sparingly. With more than 430 members, the lower chamber faces higher risks for an outbreak.

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 5:00 p.m. ET

Senate Republicans unveiled legislation on Wednesday to address a national outcry for reform of the country's law enforcement departments, with hopes of acting on police misconduct, dangerous practices and concerns of systemic racism.

But Democrats say the proposal, which would encourage police departments to end such practices such as chokeholds and no-knock warrants but does not explicitly ban them, falls short.

Updated at 7:58 p.m. ET

The Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday held its first hearing on policing since the May 25 death of George Floyd — a black man who was killed in custody by Minneapolis police — triggered a wave of protests and international outcry for reform of the U.S. police system.

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.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

The pressure is on for Arizona Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego.

For the first time, he traveled to Washington, D.C. with elaborate instructions to vote on behalf of two of his colleagues. Gallego can do this under historic new rules allowing proxy voting.

So for two days of legislative floor action, Gallego will call his colleagues — Democratic Reps. Nanette Diaz Barragán of California and Filemon Vela of Texas — before every vote, amendment and other key developments.

Updated at 8:45 p.m. ET

More than 20 Republican members of Congress and constituents are suing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other officials in federal court to block proxy voting, arguing the practice is unconstitutional, according to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

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.

For the first time in its history, the Democratic-led House approved rule changes that will allow members to vote by proxy and hold hearings remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.

For weeks, lawmakers debated the proposal as the pandemic worsened and forced the House to extend its recess as public health risks were assessed.

House Democrats installed the new rules on a largely party line vote of 217 to 189 over Republican arguments that the move bucks the chamber's institutional history and sets a dangerous precedent.

Texas Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro is not on board with how his Republican governor has let the Lone Star State reopen in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Greg Abbott let Texas' stay-at-home orders expire last month, and businesses resumed their operations with limited capacity.

With the state's caseload on the rise, Castro said it's all happening too soon.

Updated at 4:11 p.m. ET

House Democrats are moving full steam ahead with legislation to provide a new wave of coronavirus relief at a price tag of more than $3 trillion, with plans to call the full House back on Friday to approve it.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Updated at 1:54 p.m. ET

Though the coronavirus remains a serious threat in Washington, D.C., U.S. senators return to the Capitol from their home states on Monday, more than five weeks after their last formal gathering and roll call votes.

In the midst of the pandemic, the Senate will resume on Monday under a series of new social distancing measures.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has shared guidelines from the Capitol's attending physician for members to follow when the upper chamber returns.

The 7-page letter from Dr. Brian Monahan, the attending physician to Congress, to senators suggests members and visitors alike maintain six feet of distance, limit staff and visitors in offices and encourages masks if possible.

Updated at on Friday at 1:30 p.m. ET

President Trump on Friday signed Congress' latest coronavirus economic relief package, which includes additional aid to small businesses and hospitals.

The measure passed overwhelmingly in the House on Thursday — 388-5, with one lawmaker voting present.

The five lawmakers who voted against the package included one Democrat — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York — and four Republicans — Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Jody Hice of Georgia, Ken Buck of Colorado and Thomas Massie of Kentucky.

In the face of Republican opposition, House Democrats have backed off plans to consider unprecedented rule changes to allow members to vote and hold hearings remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.

The White House and congressional leaders could be nearing an agreement on a new wave of coronavirus relief funding.

Negotiations have been ongoing to replenish popular programs created as part of a $2 trillion response package passed last month.

House Democrats are considering proxy voting as a new way to avoid large gatherings in the lower chamber during the coronavirus pandemic.

House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass., presented the plan to Democrats during a caucus call on Thursday, suggesting it was the best low-tech option at this time.

The proposal would allow members to vote on behalf of colleagues who aren't able to travel to Washington, D.C. It would also allow those votes to count towards a quorum — a procedural move which is sometimes requested by members hoping to block a measure.

The coronavirus pandemic has upended the daily work of Congress.

Starting in March, House and Senate leaders delayed bringing back members for several weeks as public health guidelines recommended social distancing because of the outbreak.

A new U.S. senator from Georgia has come under fire for selling $20 million in stock after a briefing in the weeks building up to the coronavirus pandemic.

Republican Kelly Loeffler was appointed to her seat against President Trump's wishes. Now, just three months into the appointment, Loeffler is fighting for her political life ahead of elections in November.

Trump and his allies had lobbied heavily for U.S. Rep. Doug Collins to get the vacant seat, but Republican Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Loeffler.

The children's voices on the phone line were hesitant, but they were looking for answers.

"Why did we switch to remote learning?"

"When are we going to go back to school?"

"They're opening up an emergency hospital here, will that bring more coronavirus cases to my area?"

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said House members are in the information-gathering stage of a fourth coronavirus response bill, but it could be several weeks before the lower chamber takes up the legislation.

Pelosi also said she would not be tested for the virus, even after a member who attended events with her on Friday is presumed to have a coronavirus infection.

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