Jessica Taylor

Jessica Taylor is a political reporter with NPR based in Washington, DC, covering elections and breaking news out of the White House and Congress. Her reporting can be heard and seen on a variety of NPR platforms, from on air to online. For more than a decade, she has reported on and analyzed House and Senate elections and is a contributing author to the 2020 edition of The Almanac of American Politics and is a senior contributor to The Cook Political Report.

Before joining NPR in May 2015, Taylor was the campaign editor for The Hill newspaper. Taylor has also reported for the NBC News Political Unit, Inside Elections, National Journal, The Hotline and Politico. Taylor has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, CNN, and she is a regular on the weekly roundup on NPR's 1A with Joshua Johnson. On Election Night 2012, Taylor served as an off-air analyst for CBS News in New York.

A native of Elizabethton, Tennessee, she graduated magna cum laude in 2007 with a B.A. in political science from Furman University.

Looking around the inaugural meeting of the Fort Bend County Young Democrats, there's clear evidence that the face of Texas is changing.

About 60 young adults — almost all minorities — are crammed into a side room of a bubble tea cafe in the Houston suburbs on a steamy August evening. As local and congressional candidates make their pitch to the new group, there are roaring cheers — and a sense of optimism that wasn't here even a decade ago.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro is now the 10th Democrat to qualify for next month's Democratic primary debate.

Castro, a former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, who later became a part of President Obama's Cabinet, met the final benchmark on Tuesday after a CNN poll showed him at 2%, giving him the requisite four surveys where he hit that threshold. He had previously already attained the required 130,000 unique donors from 20 states.

At his first campaign rally after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, President Trump appeared to back away from supporting a possible expansion of background checks in favor of a push for more attention to mental illness.

"There is a mental illness problem that has to be dealt with. It's not the gun that pulls the trigger — it's the person holding the gun," Trump said to roars and a standing ovation from the Manchester, N.H., crowd.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will discuss measures aimed at addressing gun violence in September. He said he expects background checks, assault weapons and "red flag" laws to be part of the debate.

"What we can't do is fail to pass something," McConnell told WHAS radio in Kentucky, adding, "the urgency of this is not lost on any of us."

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang is the ninth Democrat to qualify for September's next presidential primary debates.

Yang crossed the threshold on Thursday after a Monmouth poll in Iowa put him at 2% support. He had previously hit the donor requirements of 130,000 unique donors from 20 different states. His campaign had said he qualified outright based on an earlier poll, but the Democratic National Committee said it wouldn't count that poll.

Retirements have begun mounting for House Republicans more than a year ahead of the 2020 elections, a sign that optimism about flipping back control of the chamber is lacking.

A few are aging politicians, and several would have faced difficult reelection campaigns anyway. But some retirement decisions highlight that the Republican conference is sorely lacking in both gender and racial diversity.

Updated at 7:15 p.m. ET

President Trump visited survivors of the shooting in Dayton, Ohio, on Wednesday before heading to El Paso, Texas, the site of the weekend's other deadly violence. Trump remained out of public view during the Dayton stop.

On the ground in El Paso, Trump said, "We had an amazing day."

"The love, the respect, for the office of the presidency, it was — I wish you could have been in there to see it," he told reporters.

Updated on Aug. 5 at 3:50 p.m. ET

Eight candidates have now qualified for September's next Democratic primary debate, with Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar announcing Friday she had met the donor threshold to make the stage.

She will join former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, California Sen. Kamala Harris, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

Texas Rep. Will Hurd, the lone black Republican in the House, announced Thursday evening he won't run for reelection in 2020.

Hurd's surprise decision is not only a setback for a party in need of diversity but also means there will be one less rare member of the GOP caucus who is willing to speak out against President Trump. The 41-year-old's exit makes it tougher for Republicans to hold on to his swing district next year and is also an ominous sign for his party's chances of winning back the House as retirements continue to mount.

Wednesday's Democratic presidential primary debate in Detroit was interrupted twice by protesters in the audience who were trying to draw attention to immigration and policing issues.

The first happened only minutes into the debate, which was broadcast live on CNN. During New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker's opening statement, a few audience members began yelling, "Fire Pantaleo."

Ideological lines were drawn early and often during Tuesday night's presidential primary debate between the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party.

Updated July 30

This week's debate could be the last onstage appearance for more than half of the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls.

With more stringent qualification rules from the Democratic National Committee set to severely limit who will make the debate stage in September, lower-tier candidates are now facing a do-or-die moment this Tuesday and Wednesday in Detroit.

Updated at 8:02 p.m. ET

The Supreme Court has allowed the Trump administration to use military funds to build sections of the president's desired border wall while litigation is ongoing.

A lower court had initially frozen the $2.5 billion in funds, and an appeals court had agreed. But the administration then asked the Supreme Court to review the freeze, and in a 5-4 decision the high court granted the stay late Friday evening.

President Trump appears to have identified his newest American enemy — paper straws.

His reelection campaign is selling reusable and recycled straws in its 2020 online store, and Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale blasted the slurping nonsoggy alternative in an email titled "Make Straws Great Again," a play on the president's famed slogan.

The lineup is now set for the second series of Democratic presidential primary debates, at the end of the month.

On the first night, progressive favorites Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren will be on stage together for the first time, while upstart South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg will be trying to continue his improbable rise.

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