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.

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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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Democrats and Republicans have not been able to agree on the next round of coronavirus relief after two weeks of talks. In fact, the parties remain largely in the same corners where they began, each still prodding the other to compromise.

Arizona Democratic Rep. Raúl Grijalva is nervous.

Last week, the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee tested positive for COVID-19 in the latest outbreak on Capitol Hill.

And although Grijalva is asymptomatic, he's worried because he's 72 years old and an admitted on-and-off smoker.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

So here's how the top Senate Republican is describing his party's latest plan to help Americans.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Updated at 9:10 p.m. ET

After days of delays, congressional Republicans rolled out their proposal for a fifth wave of pandemic relief aid on Monday, setting the stage for a showdown with Democrats, who say the two sides remain far apart.

The plan, which was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., focuses on new funding for schools and a new round of payments to Americans and allows for some additional wage replacement for unemployed workers.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

The pressure is on for Arizona Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego.

For the first time, he traveled to Washington, D.C. with elaborate instructions to vote on behalf of two of his colleagues. Gallego can do this under historic new rules allowing proxy voting.

So for two days of legislative floor action, Gallego will call his colleagues — Democratic Reps. Nanette Diaz Barragán of California and Filemon Vela of Texas — before every vote, amendment and other key developments.

Updated at 8:45 p.m. ET

More than 20 Republican members of Congress and constituents are suing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other officials in federal court to block proxy voting, arguing the practice is unconstitutional, according to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

House lawmakers on Friday approved a Democratic proposal to provide $3 trillion in coronavirus relief that would include a new wave of help for state and local governments, workers and families.

The House voted 208 to 199 — largely along party lines — to pass the measure. The size of the bill represents the biggest ever proposed and it includes another round of direct cash payments to Americans, extends unemployment benefits to the end of January, and adds hazard pay for front-line workers. It also expands virus-testing efforts, contact tracing and treatment.

Texas Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro is not on board with how his Republican governor has let the Lone Star State reopen in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Greg Abbott let Texas' stay-at-home orders expire last month, and businesses resumed their operations with limited capacity.

With the state's caseload on the rise, Castro said it's all happening too soon.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Updated at 1:54 p.m. ET

Though the coronavirus remains a serious threat in Washington, D.C., U.S. senators return to the Capitol from their home states on Monday, more than five weeks after their last formal gathering and roll call votes.

In the midst of the pandemic, the Senate will resume on Monday under a series of new social distancing measures.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has shared guidelines from the Capitol's attending physician for members to follow when the upper chamber returns.

The 7-page letter from Dr. Brian Monahan, the attending physician to Congress, to senators suggests members and visitors alike maintain six feet of distance, limit staff and visitors in offices and encourages masks if possible.

In the face of Republican opposition, House Democrats have backed off plans to consider unprecedented rule changes to allow members to vote and hold hearings remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.

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NOEL KING, HOST:

The Senate passed a new coronavirus relief bill. Almost half a trillion dollars is set to go to small businesses to hospitals and to testing. Here's Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

House Democrats are considering proxy voting as a new way to avoid large gatherings in the lower chamber during the coronavirus pandemic.

House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass., presented the plan to Democrats during a caucus call on Thursday, suggesting it was the best low-tech option at this time.

The proposal would allow members to vote on behalf of colleagues who aren't able to travel to Washington, D.C. It would also allow those votes to count towards a quorum — a procedural move which is sometimes requested by members hoping to block a measure.

Updated on September 17 at 5 p.m. ET

The coronavirus pandemic has upended the daily work of Congress.

Starting in March, House and Senate leaders delayed bringing back members for several weeks as public health guidelines recommended social distancing because of the outbreak.

The children's voices on the phone line were hesitant, but they were looking for answers.

"Why did we switch to remote learning?"

"When are we going to go back to school?"

"They're opening up an emergency hospital here, will that bring more coronavirus cases to my area?"

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said House members are in the information-gathering stage of a fourth coronavirus response bill, but it could be several weeks before the lower chamber takes up the legislation.

Pelosi also said she would not be tested for the virus, even after a member who attended events with her on Friday is presumed to have a coronavirus infection.

Updated at 5:50 p.m. ET

President Trump has signed a historic $2 trillion economic recovery package into law Friday afternoon, shortly after the House of Representatives approved the bill.

In an Oval Office ceremony Friday, the president thanked Republicans and Democrats "for coming together, setting aside their differences and putting America first" to pass the legislation. Trump was joined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. No Democrats were present at the signing.

Updated at 11:47 p.m. ET

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved a $2 trillion relief package Wednesday night designed to alleviate some of the worst effects of the swift economic downturn currently underway as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ahead of the 96-0 vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told lawmakers, "Our nation obviously is going through a kind of crisis that is totally unprecedented in living memory."

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

As the impacts of coronavirus spread among its own membership, House lawmakers are weighing alternatives to a longtime tradition to in-person voting as they near a potential, major vote on a new emergency bill.

In the early 1990s, two dozen House lawmakers pitched an idea of voting electronically. The proposal didn't get very far.

Now, as the coronavirus threat grows, one of original sponsors of that measure is trying again.

"At the time we didn't have ... the electronic communications we have today to safely vote remotely," said Ohio Republican Rob Portman, who is now a senator. "Now we do."

Portman is co-sponsoring a resolution with Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois to allow remote voting.

And Portman has a lot more company this time.

Updated 8:20 p.m. ET

The Senate reconvened Monday afternoon with a growing sense of urgency to act on pending legislation, and a growing realization that Congress will have to take dramatic, ongoing action to blunt the impact of the coronavirus pandemic to the nation.

"The Senate is committed to meeting these uncertain times with bold and bipartisan solutions," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the floor Monday. "It's what we're going to keep doing in the days and weeks ahead."

Updated at 10:57 p.m. ET

These are no ordinary times for Congress.

There are fewer handshakes. Purell hand sanitizer dispensers are posted outside the Senate and House chambers. Staffers are preparing plans to work remotely if there's a sudden closure.

Welcome to a post-coronavirus world for the U.S. Capitol as it weighs developments from the spreading outbreak against its daily operations.

Updated on March 5 at 8:15 p.m. ET

President Trump is expected to sign an $8 billion emergency spending package into law Friday, responding to growing cases linked to the coronavirus illness domestically and abroad.

Visiting Olympia, Wash. on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence praised Congress' bipartisan response, and said some of the funds would be available for state and local response.

Congressional leaders on Thursday said lawmakers are nearing a bipartisan plan to issue significant emergency funding to address rising fears sparked by the spread of coronavirus.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she had spoken with Vice President Mike Pence, who was tasked to lead the administration's response to the outbreak. She added that lawmakers were nearing a plan to fund the U.S. response.