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.

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.

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 5:14 p.m. ET

House Republicans plan to vote next week on a pair of immigration bills, including one that would end the Trump administration's practice of separating children from their parents at the Southwest border.

Republican leaders released a draft version of the bill Thursday after House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters he does not support the "zero tolerance" policy that was implemented as a result of a court decision. In the House GOP proposal released Thursday there is a provision ending the policy.

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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.

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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.

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.

A small group of House Republicans began gathering support Wednesday for a plan to force votes on immigration legislation as early as this summer, despite protests from party leaders.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., does not support a measure that would make it harder for President Trump to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, but that isn't stopping some Republicans from forcing the debate.

North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis said Wednesday that he will continue working on a bill to allow Mueller access to speedy judicial review if Trump tries to force him out of his job leading the Justice Department investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election — with or without McConnell's support.

Updated on April 19 at 3 p.m. ET

Maile Pearl Bowlsbey is just over a week old and already is helping force more change in the Senate than most seasoned lawmakers can even dream. On Thursday she joined her mother, Illinois Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth, on the Senate floor for a vote.

The newborn's appearance was made possible by a unanimous decision by the Senate on Wednesday evening to change its rules, which typically allow only senators and a handful of staff into the Senate chamber during votes. Now, lawmakers can bring along children under 1.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

House Speaker Paul Ryan gave Washington a jolt this morning. He announced he would leave Congress at the end of the year.

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Congress is under intense pressure to pass legislation to curb gun violence, but lawmakers are deeply split over how far to go in limiting access to guns.

Lawmakers from both parties say they want to take action to prevent another deadly attack like the Feb. 14 shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people. Disagreements over gun control measures go beyond a clear partisan split between Democrats and Republicans, leaving even the most popular bipartisan proposal stalled in Congress.

Updated at 6 p.m. ET

The Senate voted to begin debate on immigration Monday, launching an unusual process that could lead to a bipartisan immigration fix — or leave Congress with no solution for the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who stand to lose legal protections by March 5.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

California Republican Devin Nunes is at the center of a frenzied uproar in Washington with Friday's release of a secret memo on FBI surveillance.

Updated at 8:46 p.m. ET

The House passed a stopgap funding bill Thursday evening, though the measure now faces uncertainty in the Senate as Republican congressional leaders work to avert a government shutdown by late Friday night.

Republicans need 60 votes in the Senate to proceed on the four-week continuing resolution, which would extend funding only until Feb. 16. That is looking more and more difficult after most Democrats and at least three Republican senators have said they won't vote for the bill.

Updated at 8:06 a.m. ET, Jan. 18

Congressional leaders plan to vote later this week on a month-long spending bill but the ongoing fight over immigration threatens to derail the plan days before the Friday deadline to prevent a government shutdown.

Republican leaders say they are confident that Congress will vote this week to extend current spending levels until February 16 but Democrats and some far-right conservatives are threatening to block the legislation.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

It may be a new year, but Congress plans to spend most of January wrapping up old business left over from 2017.

Congressional leaders are promising to head off any chance of a government shutdown well before the Jan. 19 deadline, but a nearly yearlong fight over President Trump's demands to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border could threaten those plans.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This evening, Republican lawmakers released the final version of tax legislation that's been making its way through Congress for the past several weeks.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

President Trump, nearing the end of his first year in office, appears close to a big win in Congress. He is urging lawmakers to move quickly now that House and Senate Republicans say they have agreed on a tax plan.

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Updated at 7:29 p.m. ET

In making his "closing argument" for tax legislation expected to get a vote in Congress next week, President Trump announced that the changes would take effect early next year.