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.

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will join Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield and other administration representatives in testifying before a Senate committee on May 12.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is cancelling plans to bring lawmakers back to the Capitol next week, based on advice from the attending physician in Congress.

A bipartisan task force will continue to negotiate ways to hold virtual committee hearings and markups as Congress struggles with legislating in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Republicans, including President Trump, are increasing pressure on Democratic leaders to reopen the House as lawmakers debate elements of the next coronavirus relief package.

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.

Updated at 5:11 p.m. ET

The U.S. Senate has approved a measure to add roughly $484 billion in new funds to bolster the already record-breaking coronavirus response legislation.

The Senate passed the legislation by unanimous consent on Tuesday. House leaders were planning a vote for Thursday.

When Congress voted last month to approve the largest legislative package in modern history, most lawmakers were already saying that the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill wouldn't be enough to save the economy.

Now, less than three weeks later, talks are stalled over a White House request to refill the nearly empty coffers of the small business loan program. Democrats and Republicans are sparring over when and how to pass the money they all agree must be spent.

National Governors Association Chair Larry Hogan, R-Md., and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., the group's top Democrat, are issuing a joint call for Congress to approve $500 billion in direct aid to states, signaling a deepening budget crisis caused by the coronavirus as Congress battles over the next round of funding.

Senate Democrats blocked a GOP effort to add $250 billion in coronavirus-related small-business loans.

"We need more funding — and we need it fast," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor. "To my Democratic colleagues, do not block emergency aid you do not oppose just because you want something more. We do not have to do everything right now."

Congressional Republicans and the White House want to increase the total amount of loans available through the Paycheck Protection Program from $350 billion to $600 billion.

The Internal Revenue Service is under huge pressure to quickly disburse the $1,200 payments promised to most people in the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill. Experts say it could take months for everyone to get their checks — with some people possibly waiting until after they file their taxes next year.

Updated at 8:28 a.m. ET

People who do not have direct deposit information on file with the Internal Revenue Service may have to wait up to 20 weeks to receive cash payments included in the $2 trillion coronavirus relief legislation, according to a memo drafted by House Democrats.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she will create a bipartisan House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis to be chaired by Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C.

The committee will focus on transparency, accountability and oversight and will have the power to issue subpoenas, she said on a call with reporters.

"This select committee is about the here and now," Pelosi said. "We have to work together to get through this, but as we do, we don't want to make more mistakes."

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The nation's 15 days of social distancing are nearly over. And while many states have issued stay-at-home orders for much longer periods of time, new guidance from the White House coronavirus task force is due soon.

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Updated at 1:39 p.m. ET

Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy wasn't interested in President Trump's attempt at Twitter-shaming another GOP lawmaker who mounted a failed attempt to drag out a vote on a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill.

Updated at 5:50 p.m. ET

President Trump has signed a historic $2 trillion economic recovery package into law Friday afternoon, shortly after the House of Representatives approved the bill.

In an Oval Office ceremony Friday, the president thanked Republicans and Democrats "for coming together, setting aside their differences and putting America first" to pass the legislation. Trump was joined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. No Democrats were present at the signing.

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

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Updated at 11:47 p.m. ET

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved a $2 trillion relief package Wednesday night designed to alleviate some of the worst effects of the swift economic downturn currently underway as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ahead of the 96-0 vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told lawmakers, "Our nation obviously is going through a kind of crisis that is totally unprecedented in living memory."

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