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.

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

House Speaker Paul Ryan has been speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill today, saying that he is willing to consider additional sanctions on Russia and also emphasizing that Russia did interfere in the presidential election in 2016.

Congressional Republicans are growing increasingly worried that President Trump is on the verge of a trade war with China. But they're also realizing there is almost nothing they can do to stop him.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., put it bluntly during an event at The Economic Club of Washington on Thursday.

"You would have to pass a law to say don't raise those tariffs and the president would have to sign that law," Ryan said. "That's not going to happen."

House Republicans and outside conservative groups are rallying around Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan as he fights off allegations that he was aware that the Ohio State team doctor was sexually abusing wrestlers more than 20 years ago — back when Jordan was an assistant coach.

Personal scandals often end political careers on Capitol Hill, but so far, House Republicans are rallying to Jordan's side, including House Speaker Paul Ryan — the man whose job Jordan hopes to take.

President Trump's nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy was met with swift partisan response from many in Congress, emphasizing the power of a narrow group of uncommitted senators.

A large number of Senate Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., immediately announced that they plan to vote against Kavanaugh.

Despite all the Democrats' special election wins, high voter turnout in primaries and polls showing strong party enthusiasm heading into the midterms, the fact remains that Democrats are still stuck at their lowest level of power in nearly a century.

Even though President Trump's poll numbers have stabilized, party leaders see 2018 as a chance to seize back one key lever of government: the House of Representatives. But Democrats and their core voters can't seem to agree on the best direction to take.

House Democrats were still reeling Wednesday after one of their top leaders, Rep. Joe Crowley, lost his primary in New York City to a 28-year-old first-time candidate named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The shocking upset is a significant blow to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and her other top deputies, who have been battling calls from within their membership to step aside and allow a new generation of leaders to take the helm. Crowley's loss adds new intensity to a simmering fight over the direction of the Democratic Party and who should lead it.

House Republican leaders will start the coming week the same way they started last week: facing partywide insurrection over an immigration bill that has been repeatedly sabotaged by President Trump.

Updated at 9:05 p.m. ET

President Trump told House Republicans that he will support them "1,000 percent" in their efforts to pass immigration legislation later this week. Republicans left the wide-ranging talk in the Capitol in good spirits but still unsure if they have the votes to pass a bill.

Updated at 5:43 p.m. ET

President Trump took Capitol Hill by surprise on Friday morning when he said that he would not sign a House GOP immigration bill — only to reverse course later in the day.

"I'm looking at both of them. I certainly wouldn't sign the more moderate one," Trump told Fox News in a previously unannounced interview on the White House lawn.

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

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

All right. So of course there were all kinds of - there was all kinds of focus on the state of California. But let's broaden this out and talk about the primary results outside of California with NPR congressional reporter Kelsey Snell. Hey, Kelsey.

Senate Republicans worried about a possible trade war with U.S. allies Canada, Mexico and the European Union are pushing a plan to give Congress the final say over some trade actions.

A group led by Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker plans to unveil legislation this week to limit when President Trump, or any future president, could invoke national security as a reason for taxing foreign imports. It is a rare effort among congressional Republicans to use legislation to limit controversial policies embraced by Trump.

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

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

House Democrats believe they can win more Republican-controlled congressional seats in California this year than any other state in the country.

But, first, they need to prevent their own candidates from ruining their plans.

The June 5 primary has taken on near-mythic importance for Democrats aiming to regaining control of the House in November. They hope that high disapproval ratings for the Republican-led Congress and President Trump will create a rush of enthusiasm for Democrats in areas where GOP control is already tenuous.

House Republican leaders are struggling to contain a growing split within their party over immigration policy. But for some vulnerable moderates breaking from some of the GOP's hardest-line proposals could be the key to avoiding defeat in November.

Californian Steve Knight is one of nearly two dozen House Republicans who have signed on to a petition to force the House to vote on immigration proposals as early as next month. The plan is to allow the House to vote on at least four bills, including a pathway to citizenship that many conservatives hate.

Updated on May 23 at 10:10 a.m. ET

Senate negotiators have released legislation to overhaul policies for handling sexual harassment complaints in Congress, including requirements that lawmakers be held personally liable for some financial settlements.

The bill would require lawmakers to repay any awards and settlements that stem from acts of harassment they personally commit—including members who leave office. It would also require the public release of settlements and awards, even if the funds are fully reimbursed to the U.S. Treasury.

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