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.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The House has overwhelmingly passed a pair of immigration bills that offer a targeted approach to amending the immigration system but have an uncertain future when it comes to passage in the Senate.

As a House panel is set to meet on new spending to ramp up Capitol security, military and federal officials will testify in a Senate hearing that is part of several congressional probes into what fueled the deadly Jan. 6 riot.

Updated 12:59 p.m. ET

Former U.S. Capitol Security officials told Congress during a joint hearing on Tuesday they did not have sufficient information ahead of Jan. 6 to accurately predict the scale of the attack.

The U.S. Capitol police union issued an overwhelming no-confidence vote for the force's top leaders, including acting Chief Yogananda Pittman and a half-dozen other agency leaders.

The news comes as the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Rules committees announced plans for a February 23 joint oversight hearing to examine security failures.

Pittman drew a 92% no-confidence vote, while Capitol Police Captain Ben Smith received the highest rebuke from 97% of voting members, the union said.

House impeachment managers will focus on the harm and damage left behind by the insurrection in the second day of their presentations for the Senate impeachment trial, senior aides to the team said ahead of the proceedings.

The aides said they will also focus on what they say is former President Donald Trump's lack of remorse in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol in this final day of opening statements.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The House of Representatives and Senate approved a waiver Thursday for retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin to serve as President Biden's defense secretary. Both votes were overwhelming and bipartisan.

Normally the House has no role in confirming Cabinet secretaries. But Austin retired from the military four years ago, short of the seven years required by law to take the civilian job without a waiver from both houses of Congress.

A Senate vote on Austin's confirmation is expected as soon as Friday.

Updated at 9 p.m. ET:

A day after an insurrection that overtook the U.S. Capitol, the Capitol's three top security officials resigned from their posts amid building pressure from lawmakers and others over failures that allowed the dramatic breach.

The House and Senate's top protocol officers and the U.S. Capitol Police chief are now all expected to be replaced following a series of resignations in the wake of the security failures.

A significant share of Republicans plan to object to the Electoral College vote results, slowing down the inevitable that Joe Biden will be the next president.

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DON GONYEA, HOST:

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

President Trump has ignited a firestorm, threatening the viability of a $900 billion coronavirus relief package. His objection - the direct payments of $600 included in the package. He says they're too low.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Updated at 10:27 p.m. ET

Agreement on a bipartisan coronavirus relief package remains elusive as top congressional leaders continue to negotiate and their efforts spilled into the weekend. While they've had a framework for days, they are struggling to close out several details, and a new issue emerged as a key sticking point.

Lawmakers from both parties insist they will not leave Washington for the holidays until they get a deal that wraps together an aid package and a broader spending deal.

Updated at 7:13 p.m. ET

After facing a series of delays, the Senate approved by voice vote a one-week temporary funding measure Friday afternoon to avert a government shutdown hours before a critical deadline.

The president signed the bill Friday evening. Without it, federal agencies would have run out of money at midnight Friday.

The Senate's move came as Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, relented on his demands to vote first on a measure to allow direct payments to Americans.

With both parties unable to reach agreement on a larger spending deal and a possible economic relief bill, House lawmakers approved a one-week, temporary funding measure to avoid a government shutdown ahead of a Friday deadline.

The House approved the measure on a 343-67 vote. It now heads to the Senate, which is expected to pass it and send the bill to President Trump's desk by week's end.

The House approved the defense bill by an overwhelming majority, despite a potential presidential veto threatening to derail the annual legislation's enactment for the first time in 60 years.

House lawmakers passed the National Defense Authorization Act by a vote of 335 to 78. Backers had hoped the plan would win by a supermajority in the House support to send a message to President Trump to not veto the plan as he has repeatedly threatened.

Updated at 11:58 a.m. ET

After months of partisan standoff on Capitol Hill over the size and composition of another round of coronavirus relief, key signs of progress emerged as the House and Senate moved closer to a possible deal.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., spoke by telephone Thursday afternoon — notable because the two top leaders hadn't spoken about legislation addressing the pandemic since the election.

Updated at 5:15 p.m. ET

Just hours after a bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers revealed a $908 billion legislative framework to try to break a months-long impasse on a new round of pandemic-related relief measures, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters he's talking to administration officials about a separate coronavirus bill that President Trump will sign.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has been reelected to his post by his colleagues to lead a larger GOP conference in the new session of Congress next year.

Other top House leaders were also reelected to their current posts, including House Republican Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming as chair of the House Republican Conference.

The House of Representatives will return Monday to a post-election session with a few major but controversial items to address, including leadership elections, how to deal with more coronavirus relief and a must-pass spending bill.

To help, they'll have a new, widespread testing program to track the coronavirus among members, staffers and workers. The plan is a first for any chamber of Congress eight months into the pandemic, and it comes as cases are spiking across the country and in Washington.

Updated at 10:59 p.m. ET

William Barr, the nation's attorney general and a Trump ally, on Monday wrote a memo authorizing federal prosecutors to pursue any "substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities." He specified that such reviews can be conducted only if there are "clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual State."

The Republican-controlled Senate returns this month in a high-stakes gamble: Three members tested positive for the coronavirus as the Senate is moving full steam ahead to confirm a new justice to the Supreme Court.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rolled out a new proposal for a smaller version of a pandemic relief aid bill, but it's unclear how much support the measure could garner even in his own party. And top Democrats opposed the plan, arguing it was "emaciated" even before it was officially released.

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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.

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