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.

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.

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.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is defending his decision to object to the Electoral College results of two states during Congress' tallying of the votes last week, offering the opinions of his constituents as the cornerstone of his explanation.

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.

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