Barbara Sprunt

Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services by a narrow vote of 50-49.

Only one Republican — Sen. Susan Collins of Maine — joined her Democratic colleagues in supporting the California attorney general's confirmation. Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii did not vote.

Updated March 15, 2021 at 5:11 PM ET

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy dubbed the surge in migrants showing up at the U.S. southern border, especially unaccompanied children, the "Biden border crisis" during a trip to Texas with a delegation of Republican lawmakers.

"It's more than a crisis. This is a human heartbreak," McCarthy said at a press conference on Monday after a tour of the El Paso Processing Center. "This crisis is created by the presidential policies of this new administration."

The Biden administration is mobilizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is known for responding to natural disasters and other crises, to support an effort over the next 90 days to process the growing number of unaccompanied migrant children arriving at the U.S. southern border.

Updated March 11, 2021 at 2:39 PM ET

President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Thursday. The colossal bill, known as the American Rescue Plan, allocates money for vaccines, schools, small businesses and anti-poverty programs such as an expanded child tax credit that will mean new monthly payments to many parents.

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt has announced he will not seek another term next year, making him the latest in a string of long-serving Senate Republicans to decline a reelection bid.

"There's still a lot to do and I look forward to every day this year and next year as I continue to work for you in the Senate," Blunt said in a video he shared on Twitter on Monday.

House Democrats are expected to pass the final version of a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Tuesday, thus delivering on Democrats' campaign promises and cementing a major legislative victory for the Biden administration.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's draft proposal for a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, calling it "partisan by design."

The House Budget Committee has approved legislation advancing President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, setting a path for intense debate in the Senate.

The legislation is set for a vote on the House floor at the end of the week. The Senate is then expected to take up the legislation and attempt to modify it to ensure it can pass procedural hurdles while still satisfying all 50 Senate Democrats.

President Biden's national security adviser said Sunday that the administration has concerns over the data China has provided to the World Health Organization regarding the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We need a credible, open, transparent international investigation led by the World Health Organization," Jake Sullivan said in an interview with CBS' Face the Nation.

Congressional Democrats unveiled a sweeping immigration bill Thursday that includes setting up a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

In a highly personal attack, former President Donald Trump blasted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling him an unfit leader of the Republican Party.

"The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political 'leaders' like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm," Trump said in a lengthy statement Tuesday.

"Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again," he added.

Updated 5:43 p.m. ET

David Perdue has taken the first step on the road back to the U.S. Senate, filing paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Monday to set up a potential political comeback in the Peach State in 2022.

"This was simply a necessary legal step that will allow me to continue to keep all options open," Perdue said of his paperwork in a tweet on Tuesday afternoon.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced plans for Congress to establish an outside and independent commission to investigate "the facts and causes" related to the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

In a letter sent to her Democratic colleagues on Monday, the California Democrat said the commission will be modeled on the commission established after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Updated at 11:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday

A majority of senators voted Saturday to convict former President Donald Trump on an impeachment charge of inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

But the Democrats' side needed 17 Republicans to join them in order to reach the two-thirds threshold needed to convict.

Following former President Donald Trump's second acquittal in an impeachment trial, House Democratic managers are defending their decision not to forge ahead with seeking witnesses to help make their case.

Former President Donald Trump's legal team called the impeachment process against their client "a complete charade from beginning to end," arguing that the "spectacle" was fueled by a partisan vendetta against the former president.

In his closing remarks, Michael van der Veen claimed Trump's words on the day of the Capitol insurrection were taken out of context.

Updated at 6:03 p.m. ET

In closing arguments on day five of former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial, House managers argued Trump was solely responsible for inciting his supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, threatening the safety of lawmakers and democracy itself.

"It's now clear beyond doubt that Trump supported the actions of the mob," lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin said on the Senate floor.

"He must be convicted," said the Maryland Democrat. "It's that simple."

House impeachment manager Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., directly rebutted one of the Trump defense team's key claims during his arguments on Day 3 of the Senate impeachment trial: that the trial is politically motivated by Democrats who are concerned about running against Trump in 2024.

On Tuesday, Trump lawyer Bruce Castor made the argument: "We are really here because the majority of the House of Representatives does not want to face Donald Trump as a political rival in the future."

During Day 2 of the Senate impeachment trial, House impeachment manager Rep. Eric Swalwell specifically distinguished between those protesting the Nov. 3 election results and the violent rioters that breached the Capitol building.

"I want to be clear: During this trial, when we talk about the violent mob during the attack, we do not mean every American who showed up at [former] President [Donald] Trump's rally," the California Democrat said.

House Democrats did not mince words in their opening argument on Day 2 of the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump, calling the former president an "inciter-in-chief" who abandoned his sacred oath of office and who "reveled" in the chaos and destruction perpetrated by his supporters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

"Donald Trump committed a massive crime against our Constitution and our people and the worst violation of the presidential oath of office in the history of the United States of America," lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin said.

The second impeachment trial of Donald Trump will move forward after the Senate voted Tuesday that the trial of a former president is constitutional.

Trump was impeached by the House last month on a charge of inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The Senate vote on Tuesday was 56-44, with six Republicans joining all 50 members of the Democratic caucus.

Updated at 1:07 p.m. ET

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., pledged that Senate Democrats are moving "full steam ahead" on passing coronavirus relief legislation as they convene for the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.

Updated on Friday at 2 p.m. ET

Former President Donald Trump made history when he became the first president to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives. Roughly a year ago, the Senate acquitted Trump on two articles — abuse of power and obstruction.

Sen. Richard Shelby, the Alabama Republican who was first elected to the U.S. Senate as a Democrat in 1986, will not seek a seventh term in office in 2022.

"For everything, there is a season," he said in a statement.

"I am grateful to the people of Alabama who have put their trust in me for more than forty years," he said. "I have been fortunate to serve in the U.S. Senate longer than any other Alabamian."

Updated at 7:10 p.m. ET

The House of Representatives has voted to strip Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments, following uproar over her past incendiary comments and apparent support of violence against Democrats.

Thursday's vote was 230-199, with 11 Republicans joining with all Democrats to back the resolution.

Updated at 5:34 p.m. ET

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has broken his silence on Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, condemning her incendiary remarks but stopping short of naming any party disciplinary action toward her. The Democratic-led House announced earlier on Wednesday that it would move forward with a resolution to punish Greene.

Updated at 8:23 p.m. ET on Monday

A group of Republican senators met with President Biden on Monday evening to detail a smaller counterproposal to his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, an alternative they believe could be approved "quickly by Congress with bipartisan support."

Updated 5 p.m. ET

Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, a Republican who announced he won't seek reelection in 2022, warned the Biden administration and congressional Democrats not to move forward on a large new round of coronavirus relief legislation without GOP support, saying such a move "poisons the well."

Updated 5:40 p.m. ET

After senators were sworn in Tuesday afternoon as jurors in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, Sen. Rand Paul quickly pressed for a vote to force lawmakers on the record over the issue of the trial's constitutionality.

The Senate voted 55-45 to reject the Kentucky Republican's argument that the impeachment trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office.

Updated 12:45p.m. ET

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, has announced he will not run for a third term in 2022 and instead will retire at the end of his term.

"This is a tough time to be in public service," Portman said in a statement Monday morning, citing hyper-partisanship in Congress.

"I don't think any Senate office has been more successful in getting things done, but honestly, it has gotten harder and harder to break through the partisan gridlock and make progress on substantive policy, and that has contributed to my decision."

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