David Welna http://wesa.fm en An Angry Hearing On The Hill For 'Cockamamie' Twitter-like Network http://wesa.fm/post/angry-hearing-hill-cockamamie-twitter-network Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy was incensed that he only learned about the creation of a Twitter-like network in Cuba through press accounts. He had the chance Tuesday to vent his frustration when USAID administrator Rajiv Shah appeared before Leahy's committee. <div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2014 NPR. Tue, 08 Apr 2014 20:33:00 +0000 David Welna 27224 at http://wesa.fm With $1B In Aid For Ukraine, Congress Puts Money Where Its Mouth Is http://wesa.fm/post/1b-aid-ukraine-congress-puts-money-where-its-mouth Transcript <p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.<p>ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: <p>And I'm Robert Siegel. The House and the Senate both voted overwhelmingly today for aid to Ukraine and sanctions for Russia's annexation of Crimea. The bipartisan response to the crisis follows weeks of partisan wrangling. Differences between the two bills still have to be ironed out. Thu, 27 Mar 2014 20:12:00 +0000 David Welna 26603 at http://wesa.fm Out Of White House And Congress, Two Proposals To Change NSA Practices http://wesa.fm/post/out-white-house-and-congress-two-proposals-change-nsa-practices Transcript <p>ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: <p>From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.<p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>And I'm Audie Cornish.<p>Public outrage over NSA surveillance programs that collect data about Americans is forcing some big change. Documents revealing the security agency's methods have been trickling out in the press for months, thanks to leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.<p>SIEGEL: One of the big revelations is that the government secretly collects records of phone calls made by millions of U.S. citizens. Tue, 25 Mar 2014 20:16:00 +0000 David Welna 26467 at http://wesa.fm With New Inquiry, Harry Reid Raises Stakes In Senate-CIA Clash http://wesa.fm/post/new-inquiry-harry-reid-raises-stakes-senate-cia-clash When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared "I support Senator Feinstein unequivocally" the same day she thrashed the CIA on the Senate floor, the question of whether the pugilistic top congressional Democrat from Nevada would leap into that fight seemed less a matter of if than when.<p>A little more than a week later, Reid made his move.<p>He fired off a letter to CIA Director John Brennan informing the top spy that Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance Gainer would be performing a "forensic examination" of computers and a computer network meant for exclusive use by the Senate Intelligence Com Thu, 20 Mar 2014 23:44:00 +0000 David Welna 26223 at http://wesa.fm With New Inquiry, Harry Reid Raises Stakes In Senate-CIA Clash Senate-CIA Clash Goes Behind Closed Doors http://wesa.fm/post/senate-cia-clash-goes-behind-closed-doors The dust is still settling on Capitol Hill after California Democrat Dianne Feinstein fired a verbal bazooka at the Central Intelligence Agency <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/03/11/289060441/cia-tampered-with-senate-panel-s-work-feinstein-says">Tuesday morning from the Senate floor</a>.<p>The Senate Intelligence Committee's chairwoman — normally a stalwart of Washington's spooks — essentially accused the spy agency of illegally and unconstitutionally spying on its congressional overseers.<p>Specifically, Feinstein charged that the CIA had searched computers used by her commi Sat, 15 Mar 2014 17:22:00 +0000 David Welna 25914 at http://wesa.fm Senate-CIA Clash Goes Behind Closed Doors Hagel's On The Hill, Pushing For A Slimmer Military http://wesa.fm/post/hagels-hill-pushing-slimmer-military Transcript <p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.<p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>And I'm Melissa Block. We begin this hour on Capitol Hill, where the secretary of Defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs were grilled today by lawmakers. The Pentagon leaders appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee to defend the proposed cuts in military spending. Wed, 05 Mar 2014 21:35:00 +0000 David Welna 25403 at http://wesa.fm House Passes 'Clean' Debt Limit Bill http://wesa.fm/post/house-passes-clean-debt-limit-bill Tuesday saw a rarity in Congress these days: a "clean" bill.<p>The House passed one to raise the debt limit, a move that avoids a possible default later this month.<p>In the past, House Republicans have used this debate to extract concessions from President Obama and congressional Democrats.<p>But not this time. House Republicans demanded nothing in return. Tue, 11 Feb 2014 23:31:00 +0000 David Welna 24281 at http://wesa.fm House Passes 'Clean' Debt Limit Bill House Sets Vote On Raising Debt Limit http://wesa.fm/post/house-sets-vote-raising-debt-limit House leaders have had weeks to come up with a plan to deal with the nation's debt limit. Now, the day before they want to leave town for a break, it appears they've essentially decided to throw in the towel. They plan to put a bill on the House floor raising the debt ceiling for a year without any conditions attached. Tue, 11 Feb 2014 18:28:00 +0000 David Welna 24251 at http://wesa.fm GOP Still Looking At Pieces Of Debt Limit 'Puzzle' http://wesa.fm/post/gop-still-looking-pieces-debt-limit-puzzle Transcript <p>DAVID GREENE, HOST: <p>This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.<p>RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: <p>And I'm Renee Montagne. Today at the stroke of noon in Washington D. C. the U.S. Treasury statutory authority to borrow money will expire.<p>GREENE: Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says there are ways to move some funds around to prevent a debt default, but only for the next three weeks. It's now up to Congress once again to raise the debt limit. Fri, 07 Feb 2014 10:05:00 +0000 David Welna 24040 at http://wesa.fm After 3-Day Retreat, GOP Battle Plan Still Only An Outline http://wesa.fm/post/after-3-day-retreat-gop-battle-plan-still-only-outline House Republicans headed back to Washington on Friday from a resort along the frozen waters of the Chesapeake Bay. They were there for a three-day retreat aimed at mapping out a legislative strategy for this midterm election year.<p>One of the most pressing issues they face is the need next month for Congress to raise the nation's debt limit. Fri, 31 Jan 2014 22:33:00 +0000 David Welna 23714 at http://wesa.fm After 3-Day Retreat, GOP Battle Plan Still Only An Outline House GOP Leaders Begin To Move On Immigration http://wesa.fm/post/house-gop-leaders-begin-move-immigration Transcript <p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>Another priority of the president's that's likely to come up tonight is an immigration overhaul. The Senate last year passed a comprehensive bipartisan bill that promise eventual citizenship for millions currently in the country without legal status. While House leaders don't appear ready to go that far, they do seem ready to start a conversation.<p>And joining me from the Capitol is NPR congressional correspondent David Welna. Tue, 28 Jan 2014 22:08:00 +0000 David Welna 23513 at http://wesa.fm 8 Republicans And A Nunn Battle For Georgia's Open Senate Seat http://wesa.fm/post/eight-republicans-and-nunn-battle-georgias-open-senate-seat Georgia Republican Saxby Chambliss won't be seeking a third term in the U.S. Senate this year, and his decision to bow out has eight other Republicans, including three congressmen, scrambling for his seat.<p>Democrats, meanwhile, have their hopes pinned on the daughter of a well-known and widely admired former senator. It's turned a Senate race Republicans hoped would be a cakewalk into something far less predictable.<p>Georgia has gone from a bastion of conservative Democrats to a place where, for the first time since Reconstruction, all statewide offices are now held by Republicans. Fri, 24 Jan 2014 08:33:00 +0000 David Welna 23274 at http://wesa.fm 8 Republicans And A Nunn Battle For Georgia's Open Senate Seat 'Pretty Good' Budget Deal Looks Good Enough To Avoid Shutdown http://wesa.fm/post/pretty-good-budget-deal-looks-good-enough-avoid-shutdown For the first time in years, the House of Representatives is expected to approve a massive new spending bill Wednesday that keeps federal agencies operating until a new fiscal year starts in October.<p>The so-called "omnibus" package of all 12 annual spending bills is a compromise; it has more money in it than what Congressional Republicans wanted, but less than what President Obama had asked for. Wed, 15 Jan 2014 08:05:00 +0000 David Welna 22845 at http://wesa.fm 'Pretty Good' Budget Deal Looks Good Enough To Avoid Shutdown The War Over Poverty: A Deep Divide On How To Help http://wesa.fm/post/war-over-poverty-deep-divide-how-help All this week, Majority Leader Harry Reid declared over and over on the Senate floor that there's a downside to the recovering economy.<p>"It's true," he said. "The rich are getting a lot richer, and the poor are getting poorer."<p>That observation may not be surprising, coming from a Democrat. Less expected, perhaps, is a similar lament made the same day by the Senate's Republican leader, Mitch McConnell.<p>"We all know the stock market's been doing great, so the richest among us are doing just fine," McConnell said. "But what about the poor? Sat, 11 Jan 2014 17:37:00 +0000 David Welna 22698 at http://wesa.fm The War Over Poverty: A Deep Divide On How To Help McCain Lays Al-Qaida Surge In Iraq At Obama's Feet http://wesa.fm/post/mccain-lays-al-qaida-surge-iraq-obamas-feet Forces allied with al-Qaida are battling to retake two major cities in Iraq's Sunni-dominated Anbar province: Ramadi, the capital of the province, and Fallujah, the city where U.S. troops prevailed after fighting two major battles.<p>There have been no American forces in Iraq since 2011, when President Obama ordered the last troops to leave. Now the man who lost the presidential race to Obama five years ago is pointing a finger at the president for al-Qaida's resurgence.<p>Some 1,300 U.S. troops died in the area during the Iraq War, and Sen. Thu, 09 Jan 2014 00:06:00 +0000 David Welna 22559 at http://wesa.fm McCain Lays Al-Qaida Surge In Iraq At Obama's Feet The Campaign For Jobless Benefits Begins In Congress http://wesa.fm/post/campaign-jobless-benefits-begins-congress The Senate gets back to work Monday after a two-week holiday break. Just as Majority Leader Harry Reid promised, the first piece of legislation getting a vote will be a three-month extension of the long-term unemployment benefits that ran out a week ago for 1.3 million jobless Americans.<p>Though the Senate unemployment measure is bipartisan, it's not clear it has enough votes to beat a GOP filibuster. Sun, 05 Jan 2014 16:58:00 +0000 David Welna 22365 at http://wesa.fm The Campaign For Jobless Benefits Begins In Congress Congress Is On Pace To Be The Least Productive Ever http://wesa.fm/post/congress-pace-be-least-productive-ever We're only at halftime for the 113th Congress, but if current trends hold, it's well on track to being the least productive lawmaking effort in the nation's history.<p>During this Congress' first yearlong session, just 58 bills became law — and many that did were about naming post offices or transferring federal lands. In fact, the most memorable act of Congress this year may well have been its failure to act in time to avoid a government shutdown.<p>President Obama began the year, and his second term in the White House, with high hopes for moving his agenda through Congress. Tue, 24 Dec 2013 08:22:00 +0000 David Welna 21880 at http://wesa.fm Congress Is On Pace To Be The Least Productive Ever Pension Cut Angers Senate's Staunchest Military Supporters http://wesa.fm/post/pension-cut-angers-senates-staunchest-military-supporters In the two-year, $2 trillion budget deal that cleared the Senate last week, one item, worth just one-sixth of 1 percent of that total, was the reason many senators said they voted against it.<p>That item would produce some $6 billion in savings by shaving a percentage point off annual cost-of-living adjustments, and it would apply only to military pensions. Sun, 22 Dec 2013 16:55:00 +0000 David Welna 21813 at http://wesa.fm Pension Cut Angers Senate's Staunchest Military Supporters Senate Takes a Break After 48-Hour Debate http://wesa.fm/post/senate-takes-break-after-48-hour-debate After pulling two consecutive all-nighters, a bleary-eyed Senate is taking a breather on Saturday.<p>The fractious 48-hour session that ended Friday was fallout from a decision that the chamber's ruling Democrats made last month to move stalled nominees.<p>This week's session was the first since Democrats detonated the "<a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2013/11/21/246597699/nuclear-option-vote-marks-tectonic-shift-in-senate-rules">nuclear option</a>" and eliminated the GOP minority's ability to filibuster most nominations.<p>So when Democrats sought consent to quickly confirm a Sat, 14 Dec 2013 12:23:00 +0000 David Welna 21379 at http://wesa.fm Senate Takes a Break After 48-Hour Debate To Fix Social Security, Some Democrats Want To Lift Wage Cap http://wesa.fm/post/fix-social-security-some-democrats-want-lift-wage-cap For the past three years, there's been a shortfall in the payroll taxes collected for Social Security. And as more baby boomers join the ranks of the 57 million people already receiving benefits, that deficit is bound to keep growing.<p>At the same time, the overall share of wages being taxed for Social Security is shrinking as the higher wages that are exempt have soared. The Social Security Board of Trustees predicts a nearly $3 trillion trust fund built up over decades will vanish within 20 years.<p>But that does not seem to faze Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Thu, 05 Dec 2013 23:35:00 +0000 David Welna 20898 at http://wesa.fm To Fix Social Security, Some Democrats Want To Lift Wage Cap Tax Break For Mass-Transit Commutes May Soon Be Slashed http://wesa.fm/post/tax-break-mass-transit-commutes-may-soon-be-slashed Unless Congress acts quickly, taking mass transit to work is about to get more expensive for some people.<p>For the past four years, public transportation users and people who drive their cars to work and pay for parking have been able set aside up to $245 a month in wages tax free if they're used for commuting costs or workplace parking.<p>The transit tax break expires at the end of the year. So starting Jan. 1, the benefit for riders will be cut nearly in half — to $130 a month. Fri, 29 Nov 2013 13:42:00 +0000 David Welna 20571 at http://wesa.fm Tax Break For Mass-Transit Commutes May Soon Be Slashed With Nominees Stalled, Democrats Reprise Filibuster Threat http://wesa.fm/post/nominees-stalled-democrats-reprise-filibuster-threat For the third time this year, the Democrats who run the Senate are threatening to change that chamber's rules on the Republican minority's most potent weapon: the filibuster. Thu, 21 Nov 2013 00:11:00 +0000 David Welna 20164 at http://wesa.fm With Nominees Stalled, Democrats Reprise Filibuster Threat Senate Votes To Send A Message Ahead Of Next Year's Election http://wesa.fm/post/senate-votes-send-message-ahead-next-years-election Midterm elections are still a year off, but the scramble to gain a political edge at the polls is already well underway on Capitol Hill.<p>Bills are brought up and votes taken not so much in hopes they will prevail, but rather to send a political message. In the Senate, both parties are at it.<p>When the Senate reconvenes Tuesday, it will be voting to break a GOP filibuster of the nomination of Georgetown University law professor Nina Pillard — one of three people President Obama named to fill vacancies on the powerful U.S. Mon, 11 Nov 2013 22:21:00 +0000 David Welna 19639 at http://wesa.fm Senate Votes To Send A Message Ahead Of Next Year's Election Senate Advances Employment Non-Discrimination Act http://wesa.fm/post/senate-advances-employment-non-discrimination-act With a vote of 61-30, the Senate voted to move forward on legislation that would prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Monday's vote opens the floor to debate on the bill and the Senate is expected to schedule a full vote by week's end. Tue, 05 Nov 2013 09:02:00 +0000 David Welna 19285 at http://wesa.fm Without Earmark 'Grease,' Some Say, Spending Bills Get Stuck http://wesa.fm/post/without-earmark-grease-some-say-spending-bills-get-stuck Transcript <p>RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: <p>While Congress tries to get to the bottom of what went wrong with the Affordable Care Act website, it's got other problems on its mind. Leading the list is the inability of lawmakers to carry out their most fundamental constitutional responsibility: appropriating the money needed to run the government in a timely fashion.<p>This month's shutdown was only the most recent fallout of the breakdown in appropriations. Wed, 30 Oct 2013 09:48:00 +0000 David Welna 18962 at http://wesa.fm