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.

Updated at 7:55 p.m. ET

At about 7 p.m. ET Monday, House impeachment managers delivered to the Senate an article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump, a move that prompts preparations for a historic trial.

The Senate has voted to confirm Avril Haines to be director of national intelligence, making her President Biden's first Cabinet-level official to receive Senate confirmation. The vote was 84-10.

Her confirmation comes after Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., briefly held up the process, asking for a written response from her about a question during her confirmation hearing a day earlier.

"I no longer object," Cotton said Wednesday evening, noting that Haines had provided him with a response.

Updated at 5:06 p.m. ET

Democrats officially took control of the Senate as Georgia's two new Democratic senators-elect were sworn in Wednesday afternoon, cementing a 50-50 split, with Vice President Harris serving as the tiebreaking vote in her new role as president of the the Senate.

Harris administered the oath of office to Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff hours after her own swearing-in.

Inauguration Day wouldn't be complete without a meme or two to mark the occasion.

The creation of memes on the day when past presidents and lawmakers watch as a new president takes the oath of office has become somewhat of a hallmark in recent years.

Who can forget, for example, former President George W. Bush's trials with a rain poncho during former President Trump's inauguration?

Several Republican lawmakers reacted Wednesday to President Biden's inaugural address with optimism that both parties will be able to work together and find common ground as the new administration begins.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said the speech was "very well-done."

"I thought it's what we needed," she told Capitol Hill reporters following the address.

Murkowski said that "everything is possible" when it comes to the Republican Party working with the Biden administration.

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.

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, says an investigation is underway looking at "potentially members of Congress" who gave tours to pro-Trump rioters prior to the insurrection last week on the U.S. Capitol.

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."

Updated at 2 p.m. ET Wednesday

In a significant move, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., chair of the House Republican Conference, said she will vote to impeach President Trump, making her the first member of House GOP leadership to announce publicly support of impeachment.

In a statement released Tuesday evening, Cheney described the violent mob that breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, causing destruction and death.

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 2:24 p.m. ET

With less than two weeks before he assumes office, President-elect Joe Biden is on track to have few, if any, Cabinet members confirmed on Inauguration Day, the first president to face such a personnel issue in recent history.

Biden said it was urgent for the Senate to confirm his Cabinet selections quickly during remarks Friday afternoon where he introduced the new members of his economic team.

Heading into Wednesday's joint session of Congress to tally the Electoral College vote results, lawmakers anticipated a long day peppered with objections hinged on baseless allegations of election fraud. More than a dozen Republican senators had said they would object to at least one state's election results.

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 9:30 p.m. ET

President Trump on Sunday night signed a massive coronavirus relief and spending package, relenting on a measure he had called a "disgrace" days earlier.

The legislation, which combines $900 billion in COVID-19 aid with government funding through September 2021, was passed by large majorities in both chambers of Congress on Dec. 21 — only to see Trump blindside legislators the next day and blast the bill.

In a statement Sunday night, Trump said lawmakers will pursue some of his sought-after changes.

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.

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