Juana Summers | WAMC

Juana Summers

Juana Summers is a political reporter for NPR covering demographics and culture. She has covered politics since 2010 for publications including Politico, CNN and The Associated Press. She got her start in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Mo., and also previously covered Congress for NPR.

She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss national politics. In 2016, Summers was a fellow at Georgetown University's Institute of Politics and Public Service. Summers is also a competitive pinball player and sits on the board of the International Flipper Pinball Association (IFPA), the governing body for competitive pinball events around the world.

She is a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism and a native of Kansas City, Mo.

Congressional lawmakers are launching a fresh push for significant gun control legislation, introducing two bills aimed at sweeping overhauls of the nation's gun laws.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by California Rep. Mike Thompson, who leads the congressional task force on gun violence prevention, reintroduced legislation Tuesday to require background checks for all gun purchasers.

The day before President Biden's allies on Capitol Hill were set to roll out his sweeping immigration overhaul, a group of activists rallied outside of the headquarters of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, projecting a message onto the building's façade.

"ICE is deporting and torturing people," the all-caps message read. "Abolish ICE and CBP," a reference to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

A Latino advocacy group wants more lawmakers to learn to speak Spanish, not just to pull out a few awkward words when they run for office. NPR's Juana Summers reports.

The voting advocacy organization Voto Latino is calling on elected lawmakers to make a year-round effort to engage with Latino constituents. They're also calling out those who make feeble attempts to speak to voters in Spanish.

"We want elected leaders to continue communicating with our community in the language that they speak and understand, but also with real frequency," said Danny Friedman, the managing director of Voto Latino. "Our community is not simply a group to check off the list at campaign time."

During his first full week in office, President Biden made clear that addressing inequity would be not only a fixture of his presidency, but also the responsibility of the entire federal government.

As he signed a series of executive actions, he declared that "advancing equity, civil rights, racial justice and equal opportunity is the responsibility of the whole of our government."

On the day that California Gov. Gavin Newsom named Kamala Harris' replacement in the U.S. Senate, Molly Watson jumped on a call with other organizers and the two Black women in Congress whom they had urged Newsom to appoint to the seat instead.

It was an emotional conversation, in which Watson said she struggled to hold back tears.

The vast majority of mayors in American cities do not support sweeping changes to the funding of their police departments, and most say last year's racial justice protests were a force for good in their cities, according to a new survey of more than 100 mayors from across the U.S.

Before they gather virtually to watch the inauguration, students at YELLS, a nonprofit youth empowerment program in Marietta, Ga., will receive some special packages.

Each student will get a delivery that includes an American flag, a copy of the oath of office and a special set of pearls in honor of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. YELLS staffers are encouraging their students to dress up to watch the ceremony, to make a ruckus with provided noisemakers. And after the ceremony, staff will guide them in writing letters to the new president and vice president.

A coalition of progressive groups say they are organizing a sweeping network to mobilize around climate change, racial and environmental justice, making a new unified push as President-elect Joe Biden is days away from taking office with Democrats set to control both the House and the Senate.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, the incoming chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., are unveiling legislation that would seek to end federal capital punishment, putting a focus on the issue as their party prepares to take over complete control of Congress, along with the White House.

Updated at 4 a.m. ET

Congress certified President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' victory early on Thursday, the end of a long day and night marked by chaos and violence in Washington, D.C. Extremists emboldened by President Trump had sought to thwart the peaceful transfer of power that has been a hallmark of modern American history by staging a violent insurrection inside the U.S. Capitol.

Updated at 4:22 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden called the violent protests that engulfed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday an "assault on the most sacred of American undertakings: the doing of the people's business" and called on President Trump to immediately demand that his supporters stop the violence.

In a somber address, Biden called on Trump, who had not publicly spoken since a rally earlier Wednesday, to "go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege."

President-elect Joe Biden opposes the death penalty and has said he will work to end its use, but as President Trump's administration accelerates the pace of federal executions in the closing days of his presidency, activists and progressive lawmakers are feeling more urgency to push Biden to act immediately upon taking office.

When Beth McDonough started to tell her stepdaughter, Mia, about the woman who will be the country's next vice president, one of the first things she told Mia is that Kamala Harris has a stepdaughter too.

"She just lit up because we live in a super-small town, and as a kid with two moms and in a blended family, she faces a lot of not being able to see what her family looks like in other families," said McDonough, 33, who lives in Meadville, Pa., with her stepdaughter and wife.

When Joe Biden thanked Black voters in his first remarks as president-elect, he credited them with lifting his campaign from its lowest point during the Democratic primaries.

"You've always had my back, and I'll have yours," he promised.

While Biden won Black voters overwhelmingly across the country, they were key to his victories in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia — places where President Trump and his allies have been targeting ballots in cities with large Black populations in an attempt to overturn the president's defeat and retain power.

Former first lady Michelle Obama called on Americans, "especially our nation's leaders, regardless of power," to "honor the electoral process and do your part to encourage a smooth transition of power," as President Trump continues to dispute the results of the November election.

Obama warned that a refusal to commit to an orderly transfer of power could put the country at risk.

When Joe Biden addressed the nation for the first time as president-elect, he said that his victory was supported by "the broadest and most diverse coalition in history."

Now, Biden is facing high expectations from one big and especially diverse segment of that coalition — young voters who appear to have turned out for him in record numbers, particularly young progressives who now say they want to see him deliver on their priorities.

Updated at 9:45 p.m. ET

California Sen. Kamala Harris will become the next vice president of the United States, shattering another racial and gender barrier in American politics, at the end of a bruising presidential race that further exposed a bitterly divided electorate.

Democrats' long-term hopes for electoral success have long cited the growing Latino population in the country. But former Vice President Joe Biden's performance in heavily Latino areas of key states has concerned members of his party — and may have cost him Electoral College votes, according to groups and activists working to mobilize Latino voters.

Nationally, Biden appears to have gotten support from roughly twice as many Latino voters as President Trump, but that support looked very different depending on where you looked in three key states with large Latino populations.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching a seven-figure advertising investment aimed at mobilizing Black voters — with a particular eye toward Black men — across nearly a dozen states, a strategic move by House Democrats' campaign committee to further energize the key demographic as the election season heads into its final weeks.

The advertisements — a mix of radio, print, digital and mail — are being deployed across targeted congressional districts in Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

The White House is struggling on Monday to show that it has a burgeoning public health and political crisis under control as President Trump enters his third day of aggressive and experimental treatment for the coronavirus.

In an election season where get out the vote messaging is seemingly ceaseless, a 90-second video featuring more than a half dozen dancers testifying to the importance of down ballot races may be the most provocative.

In the video, a woman in knee high, lace up boots walks away from the camera, toward a stage decorated with patriotic bunting. She wraps one of her hands around a silver pole.

President Trump, who announced overnight that he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus, has repeatedly downplayed the severity of the coronavirus pandemic and often contradicted public health experts and members of his own administration in their more grave warnings about the virus.

Young Americans favor Joe Biden over President Trump, according to a new survey, but Trump's supporters appear more enthusiastic about that choice.

Sixty percent of likely voters under the age of 30 say they will vote for Biden, compared with 27% for Trump, according to a poll from the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics out Monday. But 56% of likely voters who support the president are "very enthusiastic" about voting for him, compared with 35% of likely voters who back the Democratic nominee when asked about their enthusiasm.

Lizzie Bond was just shy of being old enough to vote in the 2016 presidential election.

She supported Texas Sen. Ted Cruz during the primary. But when Donald Trump became the Republican Party's presidential nominee, Bond made a different choice: She supported Hillary Clinton's campaign instead.

"You know, it was actually a harder decision to decide who I wanted to support within the lineup of Republican candidates than it was to decide whether to support Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton," said Bond, who is now 21 and a senior at Duke University.

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SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

Last week's Republican National Convention offered direct appeals to a new generation of voters. It showcased figures like Madison Cawthorn, a congressional candidate in North Carolina.

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A couple of years before California Sen. Kamala Harris announced that she would run for president, she returned to Howard University to speak to the graduating class.

"First, to lead and to thrive, you must reject false choices. Howard taught me, as it has taught you, that you can do anything and you can do everything," Harris told the 2017 graduates.

After attending elementary school in Berkeley, Calif., and high school in Montreal, Harris decided on Howard and was focused on becoming a lawyer.

When she found out that former Vice President Joe Biden had selected Sen. Kamala Harris of California as his running mate, LaTosha Brown was in her bathroom trying on makeup.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

As the coronavirus pandemic has upended normal balloting, more than half of voters under the age of 35 say they don't have the resources or knowledge they need to vote by mail in November, according to a new poll.

The poll was conducted by Global Strategy Group for NextGen America, a group that is focused primarily on engaging and turning out young voters.

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