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The House of Representatives side of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. The House voted on major gun legislation for the first time in decades.
Lisa Dunn / Guns & America

Almost 25 years to the day after the Brady Bill first mandated background checks for some gun sales, House Democrats and a handful of Republicans just voted to require background checks on all gun sales.

The Democratic-led House Thursday approved another piece of legislation to broaden federal gun-control legislation. The bill gives the FBI more time to do background checks on gun purchasers. It comes a day after the chamber passed a bill extending the checks to private firearms sales.

Both measures face long odds at becoming law.

The latest bill would extend the time sellers have to wait before completing a gun sale. Like Wednesday's measure, it passed largely along party lines — 228 to 198.

The testimony on Wednesday from Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer who is headed to federal prison in early May, was a potentially seminal moment in the myriad investigations into the Trump administration House Democrats are expected to launch now that they control the chamber.

NPR screenshot

Michael Cohen, President Trump's former lawyer, is testifying on Capitol Hill. Cohen has been sentenced to three years in prison, to begin in May. He pleaded guilty last year to charges of campaign finance violations and other charges related to his work for Trump.

Updated at 11:49 p.m. ET

Donald Trump apparently blessed the meeting his son held with a Russian delegation to get dirt on opponents in 2016 and welcomed advance word of efforts by WikiLeaks to disrupt the election, his former lawyer told Congress.

Updated at 1:39 a.m. ET Tuesday

Congressional negotiators have reached what they are calling "an agreement in principle" on a border-security spending agreement. Details of the agreement have not yet been released. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., says the full details will be released when the drafting of the bill is complete — a process that could be finished on Tuesday, at the earliest.

At the first hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill since 2011, politicians fell into well-worn party roles, but — as they have for much of the last year — young people brought new energy to the familiar debate.

Updated at 10 p.m. ET

The man who served in the U.S. Congress longer than anyone else in history has died.

John Dingell, a Democrat who represented Michigan in the U.S. House of Representatives starting in 1955 until January 2015, died Thursday at the age of 92, his wife, Rep. Debbie Dingell, confirmed. John Dingell served for 59 years in Congress and cast more than 21,000 roll call votes. He was undefeated in 30 elections.

Getty Images / Pool

President Donald Trump's State of the Union address Tuesday night was full of contrasting tones. Like when he endorsed national paid family leave for new parents, and then just seconds later, called for legislation banning late-term abortions.

Today, we break down his speech, and how well it went over or didn't go over with Congressional Democrats.

President Trump delivers his State of the Union address in 2018.
D. Myles Cullen / White House

President Trump is delivering his State of the Union address, which the White House says will outline a "policy agenda both parties can rally behind." Yet the speech follows the longest shutdown in U.S. history, and the deadline to avoid another one is in less than two weeks. 

Annette Elizabeth Allen / NPR

President Donald Trump is speaking about the partial government shutdown more than 34 days since it began. This comes as federal workers miss another paycheck and air travel is delayed because of a shortage of workers.

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.

In this game of who would blink first in this shutdown showdown, it was, perhaps surprisingly, President Trump.

Late Wednesday night, the president tweeted saying he would defer to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and not deliver a State of the Union address until the government is back open.

House Oversight Committee Democrats have launched an investigation into who got security clearances in President Trump's administration following the 2016 election, as well as how and why.

Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., outlined the goals of his inquiry in a letter to the White House on Wednesday.

Updated on Jan. 23 at 6:45 p.m. ET

The Senate is set to consider two competing proposals Thursday that could reopen the government — but probably won't.

Republicans are planning a vote on President Trump's proposal to end the stalemate. But Democrats are reiterating that his offer — with $5.7 billion for a border wall in exchange for temporary protections for those under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and temporary protected status programs — is a nonstarter, meaning there's no realistic end yet in sight for the shutdown.

Updated at 6:57 p.m. ET

President Trump appears to be retaliating against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for suggesting he postpone his State of the Union address amid the ongoing partial government shutdown by postponing at the last minute her planned trip to Afghanistan.

Hayes Joins Hunt For McConnell In Attempt To End Shutdown

Jan 16, 2019
Rep. Jahana Hayes was among the congressional freshmen seeking to deliver a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell regarding the government shutdown.
Office of Rep. Jahana Hayes / Twitter

Followed by a phalanx of journalists, Rep. Jahana Hayes joined a group of House Democratic freshmen Wednesday who went on the hunt for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Updated at 3:20 p.m. ET

The annual State of the Union message to Congress may be the latest casualty of the partial government shutdown.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., sent a letter to President Trump on Wednesday, suggesting a postponement until after the shutdown is over. The speech, which the president would deliver to a joint session of Congress and a national broadcast audience, was originally scheduled for Jan. 29.

Attorney General nominee William Barr is sworn in before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019.
Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

The Senate is holding confirmation hearings this week for President Trump's pick to run the Justice Department. William Barr is the nominee to be the next attorney general. 

The partial shutdown of the federal government is causing some financial problems for furloughed workers who can't refinance their mortgages or buy homes because lenders can't verify their income. But unpaid federal employees aren't the only ones running into problems.

Libby Anderson, for example, got her final divorce decree on Tuesday. She'd hoped that would mean her ex-husband would finally move out of their Des Moines, Iowa, home, where they've been living separate lives under one roof for eight months.

Rep. Jim Himes
Chion Wolf / WNPR

Tensions remain high and a sense of urgency has set in as the partial shutdown of the federal government begins to affect more Americans.

Lawmakers this week are reintroducing federal legislation that would require background checks on nearly all gun purchases — what they call “universal background checks.” But what are universal background checks? Let’s take a look at what they would — and would not — entail.

Ben Seese / Creative Commons

The reactions to Representative Rashida Tlaib's profanity and her calls for impeachment against the president have been mixed.

While most Republicans are in sync in their outrage over her comments, Democrats are further apart. 

Hayes Introduced To Hard-Nosed Politics On First Day In Congress

Jan 3, 2019
Rep. Jahana Hayes joins House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a ceremonial swearing-in ceremony.
C-SPAN

U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes began her congressional career Thursday kissing babies, casting votes to reopen the partially shuttered federal government, and keeping watch for news about a daughter who was due — at any minute — to give birth.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

The 116th Congress is beginning its first session Thursday, and Democrats are now in control of the House of Representatives. Watch the first day of actions live, including the election for House Speaker, which Nancy Pelosi is expected to win, and debate on new House rules.

Updated at 7:27 p.m. ET

A closed-door briefing for congressional leaders in the White House Situation Room on Wednesday failed to resolve any issues between Democrats and the Trump administration over funding for border security.

The stalemate has led to a partial government shutdown, now nearing the two-week mark.

"I don't think any particular progress was made," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters afterward.

Updated at 10:15 p.m. ET

The threat of a partial government shutdown this weekend may be diminishing.

The Senate passed a short-term measure Wednesday night to keep the federal government open into 2019. The House is expected to take up the bill on Thursday. Funding currently expires at midnight on Friday.

Jason D. Neely

It began as a six-month assignment covering the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. But NPR reporter Adrian Florido has been on the ground in Puerto Rico for more than a year now.

This hour, we check in with Florido. What changes has he observed since arriving on the island?

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

Outgoing Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says she regrets not acting sooner on a harassment case involving a female employee and Esty’s former chief of staff, Tony Baker.

Chion Wolf

To absolutely no one's surprise, outgoing Governor Dannel Malloy is not letting anyone define his legacy without adding his two cents.

While speaking to the media Tuesday after the final Bond Commission meeting of his administration, Malloy struck back at those criticizing job growth in Connecticut and the level of state borrowing during his eight years in office.

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