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.

Senate Democrats are moving ahead with an updated version of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that includes several tweaks intended to satisfy some moderates ahead of an expected final vote in the coming days.

The Senate voted 51-50 along party lines to advance the bill on Thursday. Vice President Harris voted with all Democrats to break the tie and move ahead with the lengthy debate and amendment process.

Senate Democrats have reached an agreement with the White House to tighten the limits on who can receive the next round of stimulus checks as part of President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, according to several Democratic sources.

The change comes after demands from moderate Democrats to make sure the latest round of checks is targeted at lower-income families. The full amount of the checks remains unchanged at $1,400, but the amount would phase out quickly for higher earners.

Updated at 9:27 p.m. ET

Senate Democrats will not be forced to confront an internal political battle over increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 following a decision by the primary keeper of Senate rules.

The Senate parliamentarian ruled that a plan to gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 does not fit the complicated rules that govern budget bills in the Senate. House Democrats included the measure in a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that is expected to be the first major legislative act for President Biden.

One of the key aims of President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill is to send money to people who were already at risk of falling behind on bills or slipping into poverty.

Democrats say the relief bill set to pass the House Friday includes several new programs intended to create a new social safety net that some in the party are comparing to a new, smaller version of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal.

The House Budget Committee has approved legislation advancing President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, setting a path for intense debate in the Senate.

The legislation is set for a vote on the House floor at the end of the week. The Senate is then expected to take up the legislation and attempt to modify it to ensure it can pass procedural hurdles while still satisfying all 50 Senate Democrats.

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Updated at 11:36 a.m. ET

House Democrats are renewing their investigation into the Trump administration's handling of the coronavirus crisis, citing new documents and what they call evidence of political interference in the government response to the virus.

Maryland Democrat Jamie Raskin is preparing to lead the second Senate trial of Donald Trump with two clear arguments in mind: Trump was responsible for the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, and the Constitution allows Congress to hold the former president accountable through impeachment.

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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.

Updated at 6:17 p.m. ET

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says a measure that would increase direct payments to many Americans has "no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate."

McConnell is moving ahead with a plan to avoid a public rift within the GOP over stimulus payments demanded by President Trump ahead of a critical runoff election in Georgia.

Congressional leaders returned to familiar ground Saturday, digging in on opposite sides of a stalemate over a coronavirus relief package they all say is badly needed to help millions of Americans struggling this holiday season.

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.

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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.

Updated at 8:20 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Katherine Tai as U.S. Trade Representative, a source familiar with transition discussions confirms to NPR. The source spoke on condition of anonymity about private conversations.

Biden and his administration prepare to face a drastically different trade landscape than the one Biden last saw as vice president.

Tai's selection was first reported by Politico.

Updated at 8 p.m. ET

Congressional leaders remain at odds over the details of a coronavirus relief bill despite efforts to speed to a resolution before several existing programs expire at the end of the month.

Updated at 4:52 p.m. ET

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer say a $908 billion coronavirus relief proposal should be the starting point for bipartisan aid.

It is the first time Pelosi, D-Calif., and Schumer, D-N.Y., have accepted any COVID-19 legislation other than the $2.2 trillion bill that passed the House of Representatives in October. But their shift to the moderates' plan comes after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., already rejected the bipartisan proposal.

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

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