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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.

For the first time since the Jan. 6 mob attack on the U.S. Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly denounced President Trump and his supporters for instigating the insurrection.

"The mob was fed lies," McConnell, R-Ky., said in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon.

"They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government, which they did not like."

Updated at 3:49 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden's nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, appeared before a Senate panel Tuesday to begin his confirmation process, vowing to do everything he can so that an attack on the Capitol like the one on Jan. 6 "will not happen again."

Mayorkas, who would be the first Latino and first immigrant to lead that department, was previously the head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a DHS agency, during the Obama administration. He then served as deputy secretary of DHS.

Updated at 10 a.m. ET Tuesday

What do Walt Disney, Whitney Houston, Dolley Madison and Frederick Douglass have in common? They're part of an extensive list of 244 people that President Trump says he wants to honor as statues in the proposed "National Garden of American Heroes."

But with just two days left before he leaves office, Trump has run out of time to build the garden, which has not received any funding from Congress, and is highly unlikely to be pursued by incoming President-elect Joe Biden's administration.

President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Gary Gensler to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission and Rohit Chopra to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to a statement from Biden's transition team Monday morning.

The pair's selection marks a triumph for progressives who have pushed for more aggressive oversight of the financial industry.

Gensler is a top financial regulator known for taking on big banks and trading houses after the Dodd-Frank financial reforms enacted after the 2008 financial crisis.

Updated at 1:10p.m. ET

The inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States is going to look vastly different than those of his predecessors, given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and heightened security concerns after a mob of pro-Trump extremists violently breached the U.S. Capitol two weeks ago.

Updated Sunday at 9:40 a.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Jaime Harrison to head the Democratic National Committee, elevating the South Carolina Democrat who emerged as a party star during his unsuccessful attempt at unseating Sen. Lindsey Graham in 2020.

"Together, we'll organize everywhere, invest in state parties, expand the map, and elect Democrats who will be champions for the working people of this country," Harrison tweeted shortly after Biden's transition team announced his selection on Thursday.

Update at 5 p.m. ET: Special coverage of this event has ended. Follow more updates on NPR.org.

The House of Representatives passed an article of impeachment against President Trump on Wednesday, making him the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice.

In an hourlong Instagram Live video Tuesday night, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., described her personal experience last week when a violent mob of pro-Trump extremists breached the Capitol and forced lawmakers into hiding.

"I had a pretty traumatizing event happen to me," she described. "And I do not know if I can even disclose the full details of that event, due to security concerns. But I can tell you that I had a very close encounter where I thought I was going to die."

Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif., shared a harrowing account of her experience at the U.S. Capitol last week, as she fled a violent mob of pro-Trump extremists who breached the building.

"I was 1 of 12 trapped in the House gallery. I heard the shot being fired. I saw the smoke from the tear gas having been deployed," she recounted during a House rules committee meeting Tuesday.

Updated 11:35 p.m. ET

Vice President Pence says he will not invoke the 25th Amendment to declare President Trump incapable of executing his duties.

Updated 5:45 p.m. ET

With nine days left before President Trump's term comes to an end, the House of Representatives is forging ahead with plans to try to remove the president from office over his role in his supporters' violent attack last week on the U.S. Capitol.

Updated on Monday at 2:15 p.m. ET

Howard Liebengood, a 15-year veteran of the U.S. Capitol Police, died Saturday off duty, according to the force. His cause of death was suicide, an attorney for the family said on Monday.

Updated at 9:41 p.m. ET

Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey is the second Republican U.S. senator to call for President Trump's resignation in the wake of Wednesday's attack by Trump supporters on the U.S. Capitol, as House Democrats developed their plans to impeach the president.

Toomey on Sunday joined his Senate colleague Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, in calling for Trump to resign.

Updated at 5:00 p.m. ET

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer have called for President Trump to be removed from office via the 25th Amendment.

"I join the Senate Democratic leader in calling on the vice president to remove this president by immediately invoking the 25th Amendment," Pelosi said at a news conference Thursday. "If the vice president and Cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment."

As pro-Trump extremists clash with police and breach the U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser has ordered a citywide curfew starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

"During the hours of the curfew, no person, other than persons designated by the Mayor, shall walk, bike, run, loiter, stand, or motor by car or other mode of transport upon any street, alley, park, or other public place within the District," her statement reads.

The curfew will last until 6 a.m. on Thursday.

It does not apply to essential workers, including media with outlet-issued credentials.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., delivered blistering remarks Wednesday afternoon against President Trump and his Republican colleagues who are objecting to the Electoral College results, saying of Congress: "We cannot simply declare ourselves a national board of elections on steroids."

"We'll either hasten down a poisonous path where only the winners of an election actually accept the results or show we can still muster the patriotic courage that our forebears showed, not only in victory, but in defeat," he said.

Democrat Raphael Warnock made history in one of Georgia's two Senate runoffs on Tuesday when he became the first Black person to be elected to the Senate from the state and the first Black Democratic senator from the South.

"Georgia certainly made me proud last night," Warnock told NPR's Noel King Wednesday morning. "They decided to send a kid who grew up in public housing to the United States Senate to represent the concerns of ordinary people."

With 2020 in the rearview mirror, the 117th Congress is now getting under way as members take their oaths of office on Capitol Hill Sunday.

For many, the process will be familiar territory. But for most of the incoming lawmakers, it's the beginning of a brand new chapter.

Here's a look at that group of lawmakers and what their first few days will look like:

Pandemic looms large

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said Wednesday he plans to object during the Electoral College certification process when Congress convenes next week, a move that ensures a delay in the final step to mark President-elect Joe Biden's election victory.

"I cannot vote to certify the electoral college results on January 6 without raising the fact that some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws," Hawley said in a statement Wednesday morning.

Updated at 3:55 p.m. ET

With millions of Americans waiting for desperately needed economic aid, a massive relief package remains in limbo as President Trump weighs whether to sign it into law.

Updated at 3:48 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden publicly received his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Monday as the death toll from the disease nears 320,000 in the United States.

Rolling up his sleeve at Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del., Biden told nurse practitioner Tabe Mase, "I'm ready!" and thanked her for her work with COVID-19 patients. "We owe you big, we really do," Biden said.

Updated at 11:52 p.m. ET

After months of partisan squabbling, congressional leaders have reached agreement on a nearly $900 billion coronavirus relief package.

"At long last, we have the bipartisan breakthrough the country has needed," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor Sunday evening.

"As our citizens continue battling the coronavirus this holiday season, they will not be fighting alone," he added.

The U.S. Department of Energy has finalized two new rules that offer a win to President Trump in his personal crusade to roll back water efficiency standards on appliances like showerheads.

Trump frequently has bemoaned what he views as insufficient water pressure with newer appliances.

Updated at 9:37 a.m. ET

On Monday, 538 electors in all 50 states and the District of Columbia will cast their votes for president, marking a key next step for Joe Biden as he gets closer to officially becoming the 46th president of the United States.

With lawmakers facing a mounting year-end to-do list, a deal on a new coronavirus relief package continues to be elusive for Congress.

But a key House Democrat on Sunday seemed to indicate some flexibility on one of his party's priorities.

"[Democrats] are not going to get everything we want," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said on CNN's Inside Politics. "We think state and local [aid] is important. And if we can get that, we want to get it. But we want to get aid out to the people who are really, really struggling and are at grave risk."

President-elect Joe Biden said on Thursday he has chosen Susan Rice to lead the White House Domestic Policy Council, a position that does not require confirmation by the Senate.

Rice, 56, is a veteran of the past two Democratic administrations, serving on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration and as ambassador to the United Nations and national security adviser under former President Barack Obama.

Updated 6:30 p.m. ET

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an effort to overturn the results of the presidential election in Pennsylvania, signaling the high court would not go along with President Trump's unprecedented efforts to win another term despite a decisive defeat in the popular vote and Electoral College.

The lawsuit was brought by Republican Rep. Mike Kelly, who argued a 2019 state law authorizing universal mail-in voting is unconstitutional and that all ballots cast by mail in the general election in Pennsylvania should be thrown out.

The day before Thanksgiving offered a jarring contrast between President-elect Joe Biden and President Trump, who has yet to concede he lost the election.

Biden on Wednesday delivered a Thanksgiving address in Wilmington, Del., calling on Americans to unite in protecting their communities as they celebrate the holiday this year amid the raging coronavirus pandemic.

Updated at 3:56 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden has named six leaders of his foreign policy and national security teams, showing a continued push for historic firsts in his administration.

He's also set to name former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as his treasury secretary, NPR's Franco Ordoñez reports. Yellen, 74, was the first-ever female Fed chair and would be the first-ever female head of the U.S. Treasury.

As President-elect Joe Biden continues to assemble his advisers and Cabinet, one name being floated could add another historic first to his administration.

Politico reported Thursday that dozens of House Democrats sent a letter to Biden's transition team endorsing New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland for interior secretary.

Haaland, 59, is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna. In 2018, she and Rep. Sharice Davids, D-Kan., became the first two Native American women elected to Congress.

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