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Claudia Grisales

Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.

Before joining NPR in June 2019, she was a Capitol Hill reporter covering military affairs for Stars and Stripes. She also covered breaking news involving fallen service members and the Trump administration's relationship with the military. She also investigated service members who have undergone toxic exposures, such as the atomic veterans who participated nuclear bomb testing and subsequent cleanup operations.

Prior to Stars and Stripes, Grisales was an award-winning reporter at the daily newspaper in Central Texas, the Austin American-Statesman, for 16 years. There, she covered the intersection of business news and regulation, energy issues and public safety. She also conducted a years-long probe that uncovered systemic abuses and corruption at Pedernales Electric Cooperative, the largest member-owned utility in the country. The investigation led to the ousting of more than a dozen executives, state and U.S. congressional hearings and criminal convictions for two of the co-op's top leaders.

Grisales is originally from Chicago and is an alum of the University of Houston, the University of Texas and Syracuse University. At Syracuse, she attended the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, where she earned a master's degree in journalism.

The House of Representatives and Senate approved a waiver Thursday for retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin to serve as President Biden's defense secretary. Both votes were overwhelming and bipartisan.

Normally the House has no role in confirming Cabinet secretaries. But Austin retired from the military four years ago, short of the seven years required by law to take the civilian job without a waiver from both houses of Congress.

A Senate vote on Austin's confirmation is expected as soon as Friday.

Updated at 7:25 p.m. ET

As thousands of National Guard troops now buttress security in Washington, D.C., and the nation, former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund is standing by his actions, and those of his agency, on Jan. 6 — the day pro-Trump rioters attacked the Capitol under his watch.

In an interview with NPR, Sund says he had already planned to have 1,400 to 1,500 officers on duty, "all hands on deck." He said Capitol Police expected a large crowd but said nothing prepared them for what actually happened.

Updated at 2:58 p.m. ET Saturday

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is warning that the House could vote on articles of impeachment against President Trump next week as Democrats fume about the stunning attack by a mob of pro-Trump extremists on the Capitol on Wednesday. Five people died, including a U.S. Capitol police officer, and offices were ransacked, including top leaders' suites, as lawmakers and the vice president were evacuated from the House and Senate chambers.

Updated at 9 p.m. ET:

A day after an insurrection that overtook the U.S. Capitol, the Capitol's three top security officials resigned from their posts amid building pressure from lawmakers and others over failures that allowed the dramatic breach.

The House and Senate's top protocol officers and the U.S. Capitol Police chief are now all expected to be replaced following a series of resignations in the wake of the security failures.

A significant share of Republicans plan to object to the Electoral College vote results, slowing down the inevitable that Joe Biden will be the next president.

Updated at 5:03 p.m. ET

President Trump has followed through on his threats to veto the annual defense bill, triggering plans for Congress to return from its holiday break to potentially override him for the first time in his four-year administration.

"My Administration has taken strong actions to help keep our Nation safe and support our service members," Trump wrote in a message to the House of Representatives. "I will not approve this bill, which would put the interests of the Washington, D.C. establishment over those of the American people."

Top leaders and rank-and-file members of Congress are taking part in the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations, a move that could accelerate plans for Congress to return to business as usual. But not all lawmakers agree on who should get priority as millions of Americans in high-risk groups still await their turn.

The Capitol's attending physician, Brian Monahan, alerted its more than 500 lawmakers this month that they're now eligible to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine under continuity-of-government requirements.

Updated at 10:27 p.m. ET

Agreement on a bipartisan coronavirus relief package remains elusive as top congressional leaders continue to negotiate and their efforts spilled into the weekend. While they've had a framework for days, they are struggling to close out several details, and a new issue emerged as a key sticking point.

Lawmakers from both parties insist they will not leave Washington for the holidays until they get a deal that wraps together an aid package and a broader spending deal.

Update at 12:27 p.m. ET

Congressional leaders are nearing an agreement on a roughly $900 billion COVID-19 relief package that is likely to include a fresh round of smaller stimulus checks, according to congressional aides familiar with the talks.

Negotiations are ongoing and nothing is finalized, but leaders were optimistic following a lengthy negotiating session on Tuesday night.

Updated at 1:19 p.m. ET

A day after the Electoral College made the results official, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris for their victory.

McConnell joins a wave of new Republicans acknowledging the win on Monday.

With the Electoral College votes now complete, a new wave of Senate Republicans are acknowledging what's been clear for weeks: Joe Biden is the president-elect.

Updated at 7:13 p.m. ET

After facing a series of delays, the Senate approved by voice vote a one-week temporary funding measure Friday afternoon to avert a government shutdown hours before a critical deadline.

The president signed the bill Friday evening. Without it, federal agencies would have run out of money at midnight Friday.

The Senate's move came as Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, relented on his demands to vote first on a measure to allow direct payments to Americans.

With both parties unable to reach agreement on a larger spending deal and a possible economic relief bill, House lawmakers approved a one-week, temporary funding measure to avoid a government shutdown ahead of a Friday deadline.

The House approved the measure on a 343-67 vote. It now heads to the Senate, which is expected to pass it and send the bill to President Trump's desk by week's end.

The House approved the defense bill by an overwhelming majority, despite a potential presidential veto threatening to derail the annual legislation's enactment for the first time in 60 years.

House lawmakers passed the National Defense Authorization Act by a vote of 335 to 78. Backers had hoped the plan would win by a supermajority in the House support to send a message to President Trump to not veto the plan as he has repeatedly threatened.

When President Trump hosts a campaign rally later today in Georgia — a state he's repeatedly attacked with false claims of election fraud — he'll test whether he will be an asset or a liability for Republican hopes to keep control of the Senate.

It marks the president's first return to the campaign trail since he lost his bid for re-election, triggering Trump's rampage against states that voted for President-elect Joe Biden.

Updated at 11:58 a.m. ET

After months of partisan standoff on Capitol Hill over the size and composition of another round of coronavirus relief, key signs of progress emerged as the House and Senate moved closer to a possible deal.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., spoke by telephone Thursday afternoon — notable because the two top leaders hadn't spoken about legislation addressing the pandemic since the election.

For the first time since President Trump lost his bid for reelection, Vice President Pence appeared on the campaign trail on Friday to boost Senate Republicans at a pair of rallies north of Atlanta.

Two U.S. Senate seats in Georgia remain to be decided in runoff races on Jan. 5. The outcome will dictate which party will run the upper chamber come next year.

And with Trump and Pence still declining to concede their loss, GOP has been left with a tricky argument in Georgia for a high-stakes Senate battle as they try to navigate the president's false claims.

In the two weeks since it became clear that President Trump lost the election to Joe Biden — a period bookended by befuddling press conferences from his longtime lawyer, Rudy Giuliani — the president has made it clear that he will spend his remaining days in the White House in the same way he spent much of his term in office: fighting.

Judy Shelton's nomination as a member of the Federal Reserve Board is stalled.

The Senate failed to advance President Trump's controversial pick to the powerful central bank on Tuesday after Republicans Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine joined the Senate's Democrats in blocking Shelton's appointment.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has been reelected to his post by his colleagues to lead a larger GOP conference in the new session of Congress next year.

Other top House leaders were also reelected to their current posts, including House Republican Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming as chair of the House Republican Conference.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio on Monday evening joined a small group of GOP senators who have referred to Joe Biden as president-elect after the presidential race was called for him more than a week ago.

Rubio joins a club of only four other Republican senators who have acknowledged Biden's win. They are Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine and Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who have all also congratulated Biden for clinching the White House.

The House of Representatives will return Monday to a post-election session with a few major but controversial items to address, including leadership elections, how to deal with more coronavirus relief and a must-pass spending bill.

To help, they'll have a new, widespread testing program to track the coronavirus among members, staffers and workers. The plan is a first for any chamber of Congress eight months into the pandemic, and it comes as cases are spiking across the country and in Washington.

Updated on Friday at 6:20 p.m. ET

Although many Senate Republicans are still resisting recognition of President-elect Joe Biden's election win, they are signaling support for the former vice president to receive intelligence briefings as part of the transition process.

Updated at 10:59 p.m. ET

William Barr, the nation's attorney general and a Trump ally, on Monday wrote a memo authorizing federal prosecutors to pursue any "substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities." He specified that such reviews can be conducted only if there are "clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual State."

Control of the Senate may hinge on Georgia's two runoff races in January as no candidate in either contest has reached a required 50% threshold in votes to win outright.

That means Georgia, which is also still counting ballots in a neck-and-neck presidential race expected to go to a recount, is shaping up to be ground zero for whether Congress will be divided again next year.

The Republican-controlled Senate returns this month in a high-stakes gamble: Three members tested positive for the coronavirus as the Senate is moving full steam ahead to confirm a new justice to the Supreme Court.

Updated on Wednesday at 9:57 a.m. ET

Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee, who tested positive for the coronavirus following a White House event for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, returned to the Capitol on Monday.

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee plan to frame Judge Amy Coney Barrett as a threat to the Affordable Care Act and abortion rights in their questioning of the Supreme Court Justice nominee this week.

Updated at 1:21 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Saturday that he'll seek to obtain a consent agreement to delay the return of Senate from Monday to Oct. 19 in the wake of three GOP senators testing positive for the coronavirus. In a statement, McConnell said the Senate Judiciary Committee's work can continue on Oct. 12 with the confirmation process for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rolled out a new proposal for a smaller version of a pandemic relief aid bill, but it's unclear how much support the measure could garner even in his own party. And top Democrats opposed the plan, arguing it was "emaciated" even before it was officially released.

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