Claudia Grisales | WGLT

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.

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.

For the first time since President Trump lost his bid for reelection, Vice President Pence appeared on the campaign trail on Friday to boost Senate Republicans at a pair of rallies north of Atlanta.

Two U.S. Senate seats in Georgia remain to be decided in runoff races on Jan. 5. The outcome will dictate which party will run the upper chamber come next year.

And with Trump and Pence still declining to concede their loss, GOP has been left with a tricky argument in Georgia for a high-stakes Senate battle as they try to navigate the president's false claims.

In the two weeks since it became clear that President Trump lost the election to Joe Biden — a period bookended by befuddling press conferences from his longtime lawyer, Rudy Giuliani — the president has made it clear that he will spend his remaining days in the White House in the same way he spent much of his term in office: fighting.

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.

President-elect Joe Biden said Friday, as ballots were still being tabulated in states across the country, that voters had spoken loudly to embrace the policies and principles he campaigned on.

"They have given us a mandate for action on COVID and the economy and climate change and systemic racism," Biden said in a late-night speech in Wilmington, Del. "They made it clear they want the country to come together — not pull apart."

Control of the Senate may hinge on Georgia's two runoff races in January as no candidate in either contest has reached a required 50% threshold in votes to win outright.

That means Georgia, which is also still counting ballots in a neck-and-neck presidential race expected to go to a recount, is shaping up to be ground zero for whether Congress will be divided again next year.

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

NOEL KING, HOST:

Day 2 of Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett is underway. Today started with the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham, expressing his support for Barrett.

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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.

Updated on Wednesday at 9:57 a.m. ET

Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee, who tested positive for the coronavirus following a White House event for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, returned to the Capitol on Monday.

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee plan to frame Judge Amy Coney Barrett as a threat to the Affordable Care Act and abortion rights in their questioning of the Supreme Court Justice nominee this week.

Updated at 1:21 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Saturday that he'll seek to obtain a consent agreement to delay the return of Senate from Monday to Oct. 19 in the wake of three GOP senators testing positive for the coronavirus. In a statement, McConnell said the Senate Judiciary Committee's work can continue on Oct. 12 with the confirmation process for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court.

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

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

All right. So what comes next? The attention now turns to Congress and Judge Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation process. We've got NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales to talk about that. Hi, Claudia.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Hi there.

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.

The historic district in the town of Waxhaw, N.C., is marked with lines of traditional shops and the sounds of the train that runs through it.

Sixty-nine-year-old Allen Cronk is visiting a used-book store in town. The Marine Corps veteran is a Republican voter and supporting President Trump for reelection, though he says the current state of retirement benefits, like Social Security and assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs, are "a mess."

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

NOEL KING, HOST:

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.

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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.

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

So here's how the top Senate Republican is describing his party's latest plan to help Americans.

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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.

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.

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

NOEL KING, HOST:

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.

President Trump is escalating his fight with Congress over a broad bipartisan effort to rename military installations named for figures from the Confederacy, threatening to veto an annual defense bill if it includes the provision.

The Senate is debating the National Defense Authorization Act, which already includes the provision backed by most members of the Senate panel. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers is looking to add the change as part of ongoing negotiations for its version of the defense legislation.

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Nancy Pelosi at podium
Carolyn Kaster / AP

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 on Thursday approving wide-ranging efforts to overhaul the way police do their jobs.

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

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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.

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