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.

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NOEL KING, HOST:

Congressman Elijah Cummings has died at the age of 68 years old. A Democrat, he was widely admired as a principled leader both on Capitol Hill and in his hometown of Baltimore. Here he is talking at Morgan State University's commencement back in May.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

And for some context on that conversation recorded earlier today, we have NPR's congressional correspondent Susan Davis, who was listening in.

Hi, Sue.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.

Republicans who support President Trump say the next three weeks are crucial to determine whether Trump can keep Republicans united behind him or if emerging cracks break open even wider.

Their growing concern is that the White House is not acting with enough urgency to combat the whistleblower fight.

They're calling for a more coordinated but also direct and aggressive strategy, similar to the one used when Republicans defended Brett Kavanaugh when Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court.

Updated at 7:20 p.m. ET

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, now the lead lawmaker in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump, says his panel will be working through the scheduled upcoming two-week congressional recess.

"I can tell you it's going to be a very busy couple of weeks ahead," Schiff told reporters. The chairman said the committee is scheduling hearings and witness interviews, as well as working on document requests and possible subpoenas.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled legislation this week that would give the federal government sweeping new authority to regulate and lower the cost of prescription drugs. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declared the bill dead on arrival and told Politico it amounts to "socialist price controls."

In an exclusive interview with NPR, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has not changed her mind on pursuing impeachment but is ready to change the law to restrain presidential power and make it clear that a sitting president can, in fact, be indicted.

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Updated at 11:20 a.m. ET

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., unveiled her long-anticipated plan to lower the cost of prescription drugs on Thursday. It is a priority shared by President Trump, fueling a glimmer of hope that there is a deal to be had on the issue ahead of the 2020 elections.

"It is transformative," Pelosi said of her plan."We do hope to have White House buy-in."

Three weeks after Democrats took control of the U.S. House in the 2018 midterm elections, about 40 reelected and recently defeated lawmakers in the centrist Republican Main Street Caucus gathered at the Capitol Hill Club to sift through the electoral wreckage.

The caucus — then led by Reps. Rodney Davis of Illinois, Jeff Denham of California, Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida and Fred Upton of Michigan — was scheduled to hold its regular meeting with the outside group that inspired its name, the Republican Main Street Partnership, led by president and CEO Sarah Chamberlain.

Back home in Iowa for the August recess, Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley is making the case in this conservative state for a sweeping drug bill, even though many in his party do not support it.

"One of the few times, if it isn't the only time, that I've been chairman of various committees that I haven't had at least a majority of Republicans on my side," Grassley conceded at a town hall meeting in Aurelia this week, but he added: "It's probably more valuable to have the president on your side."

Update at 6:22 p.m. ET

President Trump announced an agreement on a two-year budget deal and debt-ceiling increase.

The deal would raise the debt ceiling past the 2020 elections and set $1.3 trillion for defense and domestic spending over the next two years.

The invitation reads: Jim Clyburn's World Famous Fish Fry.

World famous?

"Well, it's my world," Majority Whip James Clyburn said, chuckling. "And anybody else who would like to claim space in it." When it comes to South Carolina Democratic politics, it's hard to argue. Clyburn, at 78 years old, is the most influential Democrat in the state, which explains why most of the 2020 Democratic presidential field is headed to Columbia, S.C., next Friday for a chance to appear by his side.

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Rep. Liz Cheney does not mince words, but when it comes to her own political ambitions, the Wyoming Republican has nothing to say right now.

"I don't have any announcements to make about that," a tight-lipped Cheney told reporters at a recent press conference dominated by questions about her political future.

Updated at 4:19 p.m. ET

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will convene a meeting Wednesday morning to hear from Democrats on whether to move forward with impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

Pelosi, a public skeptic of impeachment, is confronting a rising tide of support for it among rank-and-file House Democrats and members of her own leadership team. Democrats are outraged by the Trump administration's ongoing effort to stymie congressional oversight into the president, his administration, and the findings in special counsel Robert Mueller's report.

More than a decade ago, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared victory over the Bush administration in a clash between Congress and the president's assertion of executive privilege to try to block members of his administration from testifying as part of a congressional oversight investigation.

"It's a triumph for the balance of power, checks and balances, the Constitution of the United States," Pelosi said in March 2009.

If House Democrats ultimately begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump, last week will be remembered as one of the pivotal turning points.

Trump's decision to invoke executive privilege over the full report by special counsel Robert Mueller is prompting impeachment skeptics like Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., to reconsider.

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Attorney General William Barr's refusal to appear before the House Judiciary Committee did accomplish one thing, according to Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.

"They have succeeded in building a near unanimous sense in the Democratic Caucus that the executive branch of government is in defiance of the Constitution and the rule of law," said Raskin, a former constitutional law professor who sits on both the House Judiciary and Oversight committees.

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President Trump is trying to ratchet up public pressure on congressional Democrats to bend to his administration's will on immigration, but the House majority is dismissing new White House proposals to discourage the surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Updated at 12:49 p.m. ET

The House of Representatives approved legislation renewing the Violence Against Women Act with new provisions that restrict gun ownership and expand transgender rights.

The National Rifle Association opposed the bill — putting GOP lawmakers in a tough position of voting against a measure protecting victims of domestic and sexual violence or opposing the politically powerful gun lobby.

The vote was 263 to 158, with 33 Republicans joining all but one Democrat to pass the measure. One GOP member voted present.

Updated at 2:32 p.m. ET

President Trump's decision to kick off a renewed battle to dismantle President Barack Obama's health care law stunned lawmakers on Capitol Hill, who will face the reckoning from voters if the administration's efforts to overturn the law succeed this time around.

Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET

The Senate failed to move forward with Democrats' "Green New Deal," but the partisan clash over the controversial environmental plan is likely to be a continuing theme ahead of the 2020 election.

The measure needed 60 votes to advance but was blocked when all Senate Republicans and four Senate Democrats opposed it. The rest of the chamber's Democrats voted "present."

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

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.

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