Kelsey Snell | KUER 90.1

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.

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.

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.

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 at 6:21 p.m. ET

The House rejected a $867 billion farm bill on Friday — after spending days negotiating with key conservatives in an attempt to pass the bill without the support of Democrats.

The vote was 198-213. Every Democrat voted against the measure, as did 30 Republicans. Many of the GOP lawmakers are members of the House Freedom Caucus and voted no after failing to get concessions on spending and a future vote on immigration in exchange for their support.

Suicide rates among farmers are higher than any other profession in the United States and now some experts and Senators worry Washington politics could be making farmland stresses even worse.

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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.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to approve a bipartisan bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired, despite warnings from Senate leaders that the bill is unlikely to receive a vote in the full Senate.

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.

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

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Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went on Fox News and poured cold water all over an emerging bipartisan plan to protect special counsel Robert Mueller.

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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.

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

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Maile Pearl Bowlsbey is just over 1 week old, and already she is helping to force more change in the U.S. Senate than most seasoned lawmakers can ever dream of doing. NPR's Kelsey Snell explains.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will face Congress in two separate hearings this week, as his company grapples with intense scrutiny over privacy and security on the social media site. It will be Zuckerberg's first appearance on Capitol Hill.

On Tuesday afternoon, more than 40 senators will crowd into a hearing room, where members of the Senate judiciary and commerce committees will have four minutes each to question Zuckerberg. A similar scene will play out Wednesday, when he is set to appear before members of House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Updated at 4:20 p.m. ET

President Trump couldn't convince Congress to sign off on a $25 billion request to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico and efforts to get the Pentagon to pick up the tab may be hitting another kind of wall.

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

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Updated at 12:55 a.m. ET Friday

The Senate voted early Friday to pass a roughly $1.3 trillion spending bill to fund the government through Sept. 3. The move avoided a government shutdown.

Congressional negotiators delayed the release of a $1.3 trillion spending bill Tuesday as the clock ticked closer to a Friday shutdown deadline amid battles over more than a dozen unresolved policy matters.

Leaders originally planned to release the details of the bill over the weekend but the spending talks remain mired in fights over immigration, gun control and health care.

Democrats are having a moment. They managed to win a House seat in Republican-leaning, industrial Pennsylvania and a Senate seat in the deep-red state of Alabama.

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

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Updated at 3:05 a.m. ET Friday

Plans for a speedy Senate vote on gun legislation crumbled Thursday as Senate leaders announced plans to move on to long-planned banking legislation, while congressional Republicans struggle to make sense of President Trump's wishes on guns.

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 4:25 p.m. ET

The Senate failed to pass any immigration legislation before a self-imposed Friday deadline, leaving lawmakers with no plan to address the roughly 700,000 immigrants who stand to lose legal protections as early as March 5.

The defeat follows a rocky 24 hours of negotiations on a bipartisan bill that failed following a veto threat from President Trump. By a 39-60 vote, senators rejected a White House-backed plan that became a partisan lightning rod after Trump insisted his plan was the only one he would sign.

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