KASU

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.

Updated at 8:52 p.m. ET

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has a message for Republican voters who are celebrating the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh: Get to the polls in November if you want more conservatives sitting on judicial benches.

Updated at 8:41 p.m. ET

Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court cleared a key procedural hurdle in the Senate on Friday, and his confirmation now seems all but certain, after a key swing vote, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, declared her support in a speech on the Senate floor.

Moments after Collins completed her remarks, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced in a statement that he too will support the nomination when it comes up for a final vote.

That final vote is expected as soon as Saturday.

Updated at 7:51 a.m. ET on Thursday

The FBI's highly anticipated supplemental background check on Brett Kavanaugh was sent to the White House and Capitol Hill overnight, with senators set to review the report on Thursday in the final chapter of what has become a deeply acrimonious confirmation battle.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced the planned arrival of the report on Wednesday night and said all senators would get a chance to review it ahead of the next procedural milestones in the chamber.

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(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD: (Reading) I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Christine Blasey Ford has just begun to speak to the Senate Judiciary Committee, offering testimony today against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Let's just bring the sound of that as we hear a bit of her opening statement.

Updated at 6:10 p.m. ET

The House voted 361-61 to approve a spending bill to avoid a shutdown threat until early December. President Trump has said he plans to sign the legislation.

The legislation also includes a full year of funding for the Departments of Defense, Labor and Health and Human Services and a short-term extension of the Violence Against Women Act; but it has no new money for Trump's proposed wall with Mexico.

Updated at 11:18 p.m. ET

Days before the Senate is set to hear from a woman who alleges that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her while in high school, Kavanaugh is denying fresh accusations from a college classmate who also alleges he acted inappropriately toward her.

Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her more than 30 years ago, will testify Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Attorneys for Ford reached an agreement with committee staff on Sunday after days of negotiations over the conditions and details of her appearance. The terms of their agreement provide that Kavanaugh will also appear before the committee, but he will not be in the room while Ford is speaking or being questioned.

Updated at 8:20 p.m. ET

Attorneys for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a high school party in the 1980s, have begun discussing terms of her appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week.

"She wishes to testify, provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety," Debra Katz, Ford's lawyer says in an email to committee aides first reported in the New York Times and confirmed by NPR.

Updated at 11 p.m. ET

The Senate Judiciary Committee will move forward with a hearing scheduled for Monday on sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, despite a request for further investigation from his accuser.

House and Senate negotiators have agreed to a plan to avoid a shutdown fight weeks before the midterm elections in November.

Sen. Lindsey Graham doesn't want to replace his best friend, Sen. John McCain — he wants to lead a march in McCain's footsteps.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Tuesday delayed efforts to rename the Russell Senate Office in honor of Sen. John McCain by creating an official group to vet a variety of memorial options.

McConnell announced plans for the bipartisan committee just days after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., first suggested renaming the building to memorialize McCain, who died Saturday at 81. Republican reaction to the Schumer proposal was mixed, even as Sen. Jeff Flake, McCain's fellow Arizona Republican, signed on as a co-sponsor.

Updated at 9:37 p.m. ET

The beginning of the national memorial for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has been marred by a fight over a sign of public respect, as President Trump initially avoided issuing a proclamation to lower flags to half-staff at all federal properties in McCain's honor.

Flags were lowered at government buildings across Washington and across the country Saturday evening after McCain died, as is standard practice for a sitting member of Congress.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

A prominent outside group supporting House Democrats is out with a new ad attacking top House Republican leaders as a scandal-plagued trio following in the mold of disreputable party predecessors.

The new ad, called "Answer," opens with old news footage of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich while a menacing male voice says, "They've shut down the government," before reminding viewers of unsavory moments for each of the three Republicans vying for the top House leadership spots.

Senate Democrats threatened to sue the National Archives to obtain documents from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's career as a White House official during President George W. Bush's administration.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters Thursday that Democrats will file a lawsuit if the National Archives does not respond to their Freedom of Information Act request. The suit is a last-ditch effort to obtain the documents ahead of confirmation hearings set begin Sept. 4.

North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is one of the most vulnerable Democrats running for re-election in this year's midterm elections. Her future may depend on how closely she can align herself with President Trump without angering members of her own party.

Heitkamp must walk that fine line because she's campaigning in a state that went for Trump by more than 35 points in 2016. That pressure was on display this week after she became one of the first Democrats to meet privately with Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's pick to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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NOEL KING, HOST:

Updated at 4:55 p.m. ET

Congressional Republicans keep trying to downplay the possibility of a government shutdown this fall, just weeks ahead of midterm elections, even as President Trump returns again and again to that very scenario.

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday downplayed a threat by President Trump to revoke security clearances for a number intelligence officials who served under President Barack Obama as "trolling" and not a political act.

"I think he's trolling people, honestly," Ryan told reporters. "This is something that is in the purview of the executive branch."

House Republicans claimed a political victory Wednesday after the House voted 244-35 in favor of officially supporting the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, a vote intended to force Democrats to take a position amid calls from progressives to abolish the agency.

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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.

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