Susan Davis | KUER 90.1

Susan Davis

Susan Davis is a congressional correspondent for NPR. She has covered Congress, elections, and national politics since 2002 for publications including USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, National Journal and Roll Call. She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss congressional and national politics, and she is a contributor on PBS's Washington Week with Robert Costa. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Philadelphia native.

Members of Congress have not received a pay raise in a decade. So like most Americans, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., would like a raise.

"The cost of rent, childcare and other necessities has risen substantially in Washington and across the country in recent years, but members and staff pay and benefits have not kept pace with the private sector," Hoyer said last week at a hearing held by the new Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress.

Updated at 4:16 p.m. ET

The Republican-controlled Senate approved a resolution to terminate President Trump's national emergency declaration at the U.S.-Mexico border, putting Congress on a path to its first veto confrontation with the Trump administration.

The speaker giveth, and the speaker taketh away.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has reclaimed office space her predecessor, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., awarded to Vice President Pence.

Republicans gave Pence, a former House member, a first-floor bonus office in the U.S. Capitol shortly after President Trump was inaugurated in 2017.

Two lawmakers who engaged in a heated exchange that included accusations of racist behavior during a Wednesday committee hearing hugged it out on the House floor on Thursday.

"It was a very good conversation," Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., told reporters after. Meadows approached Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., on the House floor where they engaged in a brief conversation and embraced. "I just wanted her to know there is no animosity or hard feelings at all and she said the same and it was a very good moment."

Spending negotiators may have reached an agreement on an outline to avoid a government shutdown, but the final legislation is still incomplete less than three days before the Friday deadline.

Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET

One of the two first Muslim women to serve in Congress has apologized for comments on social media widely condemned as anti-Semitic. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., said she apologized "unequivocally" following a joint statement released by House Democratic leaders calling on her to do so.

"Anti-Semitism is real," Omar tweeted Monday afternoon, "and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes."

The most important political issues of the past year will be on display Tuesday night, not only in what President Trump says in his State of the Union address but in who will be in the audience.

Furloughed federal workers, Border Patrol agents, immigrants, school shooting survivors and the first inmate to benefit from a new criminal justice law will be among those to gather in the chamber of the U.S. House.

Updated at 5:45 p.m. ET

A formal committee of congressional negotiators held its first, and maybe only, public meeting on Wednesday to kick off talks to reach a border security deal that President Trump will support.

Updated at 9 p.m. ET

After an at-times heated debate, the Senate on Thursday, as expected, failed to approve either of the competing measures that would have ended the standoff over border wall funding.

If nothing else, the votes seemed to spur a flurry of efforts to find a way to end the standoff. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., announced on the Senate floor after the measures failed that he spoke with President Trump about a three-week stopgap bill to reopen the government.

Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET

Pressure mounted on Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King on Tuesday as a top House Republican leader called on him to resign over his recent comments to The New York Times on white supremacy.

"We do not support it or agree with it, and as I said I think he should find another line of work," House GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., told reporters Tuesday morning.

Updated at 2:11 a.m. ET Tuesday

House Republican leaders moved Monday to remove Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, from two committees as a punishment for his recent comments in a New York Times interview where he was quoted questioning why the terms "white nationalist" and "white supremacist" are considered offensive.

Updated at 6:29 p.m. ET

The new House Democratic majority is promising to do something the party avoided when it last controlled the levers of power in Washington: pass gun legislation enhancing background check requirements for all gun purchases.

Top Democrats announced late Sunday a series of changes to House rules that could eliminate causes of major instability during the previous eight years of Republican rule in Congress.

"We are proposing historic changes that will modernize Congress, restore regular order and bring integrity back to this institution," said incoming House Rules Chairman James McGovern, D-Mass., in a statement explaining the changes.

Within sight of the U.S. Capitol dome, a new dome is about to open. It's on the playground of a new day care facility exclusively for U.S. House employees, and the playground is designed in part to look like a kid-sized National Mall.

"This is the only Washington Monument in D.C. that you can climb up," joked House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who helped inspire the playground's design.

The House of Representatives will vote on a funding bill to end the partial government shutdown on Thursday, the first day of the new Congress when Democrats will take control of the chamber and are expected to elect Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as speaker.

President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell want to move swiftly to confirm the justice to succeed retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy before the court reconvenes on October 1.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced Tuesday he is canceling the annual August recess to deal with a legislative backlog he blamed on the chamber's Democratic minority.

"Due to the historic obstruction by Senate Democrats of the president's nominees, and the goal of passing appropriations bills prior to the end of the fiscal year, the August recess has been canceled," McConnell said in a statement that made official a decision that had been anticipated for weeks.

Lawmakers return to Capitol Hill this week to confront an unplanned and unpredictable immigration debate. Republicans and Democrats alike believe the outcome could be a decisive factor for voters in elections this November that will determine control of Congress.

A divided House GOP Conference will hold a closed-door session on Thursday to build a strategy around immigration legislation scheduled for the floor the third week of June — a deal promised to the rank-and-file by reluctant GOP leaders before the Memorial Day break.

At a closed-door meeting on Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., urged House Republicans to resist the urge to sign on to a discharge petition to force the House to vote on contentious immigration legislation.

Even 2,000 miles away from Washington, D.C., Sen. John McCain can still make news.

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The final Indiana Senate Republican debate ahead of Tuesday's primary election was not exactly a battle of ideas because, as the moderator noted at the top, there isn't much ideological diversity between the three candidates in the race.

New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez escaped federal criminal prosecution. But he couldn't escape the judgment of his Senate colleagues.

The bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee unanimously issued a rare rebuke on Thursday, formally admonishing the senator for his conduct over a six-year period with his longtime friend and political ally Dr. Salomon Melgen.

Updated at 6:35 p.m. ET

Mike Pompeo is on track to become secretary of state after a key Republican senator gave a last-minute endorsement of the CIA director.

The secretary of state-designate's nomination was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Monday night on a party-line vote. The vote was 10 Republicans for Pompeo, nine Democrats against. One Democrat voted present.

Politics isn't always red or blue. Lately, it has been green.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., plans to introduce legislation on Friday to decriminalize marijuana on the federal level, adding a high-profile advocate in the effort to decriminalize, legalize and normalize marijuana use in America.

Schumer's legislation would remove marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under a 1970 law that classifies marijuana as dangerous as heroin for legal and regulatory purposes.

Updated at 3:00 p.m. ET

House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election and will retire in January.

"You all know I did not seek this job," Ryan said, addressing reporters. "I took it reluctantly. ... I have no regrets."

Ryan, 48, cited wanting to be around his adolescent children more often.

The latest flash point in the nation's gun debate sent millions of Americans marching into the streets over the weekend in cities like Denver to call for stricter gun laws.

"I've never, until this year I haven't contributed a dime in my entire life to anybody's campaign. This year? I've given more money than I ever thought I would do," said David Frieder, a retiree who attended Saturday's gun march in downtown Denver.

Updated at 7:38 p.m. ET

Top Republican lawmakers do not support legislation aimed at protecting Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller and his Russia investigation from White House interference, insisting that it is unnecessary.

"The special counsel should be free to follow through his investigation to its completion without interference, absolutely," House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters Tuesday. "I am confident that he'll be able to do that. I have received assurances that his firing is not even under consideration."

Marcy Kaptur didn't plan for this.

First elected in 1982, the Ohio Democrat didn't set out to become the longest-serving woman in House history.

"The reasons that I ran, to change certain practices and policies, [I thought] could be done much more quickly," she said in an interview with NPR. On Sunday, Kaptur becomes the longest-serving woman ever to serve in the chamber with a tenure that spans 35 years, two months and 15 days.

Updated at 4:05 p.m. ET

Congress has the power to challenge President Trump on new tariffs, but it's unlikely lawmakers will act, even though nearly all congressional Republicans oppose the president's trade policy because they believe it will harm the U.S. economy.

"It's a conundrum, really, because you do not want 100 senators and our counterparts in the House doing basically any trade initiative. That's why we give that (power) to the executive," said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

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