Kelsey Snell

The Senate voted largely along party lines to change its debate rules — a move that will speed up the confirmation process for some lower-level judicial and agency nominees.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., used a complex procedural maneuver, known as the nuclear option, to cut debate for lower-level nominees from 30 hours to two hours. The change does not apply to Cabinet-level nominees, federal appeals judges, members of some boards and commissions or the Supreme Court. It also does not change the 60-vote requirement to advance legislation.

There are few things Democrats and Republicans in Congress usually agree on, but one of them is rushing federal money to victims of natural disasters.

That sentiment crumbled this week when the Senate failed to advance two separate disaster funding bills. Both included bipartisan funding to help relieve damage across the country from flooding, wildfires, tornadoes and hurricanes. But a fight over assistance for Puerto Rico has derailed getting a deal on the entire package.

For Democrats, one of the keys to winning control of the House of Representatives last year was convincing voters in formerly Republican districts that there's more than one way to be a Democrat.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., was one of dozens of new members who ousted Republicans, in part on a pledge to buck party leaders and work across the aisle. Spanberger spent her first three months in office following through on that promise — she voted against Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House and split from Democrats on a number of procedural votes.

House Democrats wanted this to be a week of celebration centered on the passage of their signature bill to overhaul campaign finance, ethics and voting laws. Instead, leaders spent the week working to quell internal divisions and struggling to refocus attention on the party's legislative achievements.

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For more on the Republican response to President Trump's emergency declaration, we turn to NPR congressional reporter Kelsey Snell, who's at the Capitol. Hey there, Kelsey.

KELSEY SNELL, BYLINE: Hi there.

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Michael Cohen named names from the Trump Organization during his public testimony before Congress. And now lawmakers have questions for those people.

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And that is where we pick up with NPR's Kelsey Snell, who has been following the testimony all day. She's on Capitol Hill. Hi, Kelsey.

KELSEY SNELL, BYLINE: Hi there.

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Updated at 9:14 p.m. ET

President Trump will support a border security funding compromise, averting a partial government shutdown early Saturday — but he also will declare a national emergency in order to build the wall he has pushed for along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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.

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Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is joining other top Democrats in warning that the road to releasing President Trump's tax returns may be slower than activists are hoping.

Pelosi told reporters on Thursday that she knows "there's this impatience" to see the full picture of Trump's finances but Democrats have to proceed carefully. "It's not a question of just sending a letter," Pelosi said. "You have to do it in a very careful way."

Democrats officially took control of the House of Representatives one month ago with a promise of moving quickly on a fresh agenda centered on protecting health care and making Washington work better.

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It's day 32 of the partial government shutdown, surpassing all prior records and predictions. If it continues, 800,000 federal workers will miss a second paycheck.

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