Ron Elving

Ron Elving is Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News, where he is frequently heard as a news analyst and writes regularly for NPR.org.

He was previously the political editor for USA Today and for Congressional Quarterly. He has been a Distinguished Visiting Professional in Residence at American University, where he is now an adjunct professor. In this role, Elving received American University's 2016 University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching in an Adjunct Appointment. He has also taught at George Mason and Georgetown University.

He has been published by the Brookings Institution and the American Political Science Association. He has contributed chapters on Obama and the media and on the media role in Congress to the academic studies Obama in Office 2011, and Rivals for Power, 2013. Ron's earlier book, Conflict and Compromise: How Congress Makes the Law, was published by Simon & Schuster and is also a Touchstone paperback.

During his tenure as the manager of NPR's Washington coverage, NPR reporters were awarded every major recognition available in radio journalism, including the Dirksen Award for Congressional Reporting and the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

In 2008, the American Political Science Association awarded NPR the Carey McWilliams Award "in recognition of a major contribution to the understanding of political science."

Ron came to Washington in 1984 as a Congressional Fellow with the American Political Science Association and worked for two years as a staff member in the House and Senate. Previously, he had been state capital bureau chief for The Milwaukee Journal.

He received his bachelor's degree from Stanford University and master's degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of California – Berkeley.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Once again, and sadly not for the last time, a mass shooting has stunned the nation and shocked the rest of the civilized world, spurring a national debate about guns and gun laws.

And once again, and surely not for the last time, that debate features the pre-eminent organization of gun owners, the National Rifle Association, known as the NRA.

President Trump continues to learn things about his job and the rest of us continue to learn things about Donald Trump.

Last week, faced with one natural disaster festering in Texas and another impending in Florida, Trump used a storm relief bill to save Congress from a fiscal disaster of its own making.

Moreover, he did it by shunning his own party's leaders in the House and Senate and cutting a deal instead with the leaders of the opposition.

Some years back a hit song filled the summertime airwaves with its chorus of "See You In September."

It was meant to be a lover's promise of joyful reunion at summer's end.

But to use those words in Washington, D.C., right now sounds more like a warning ... or even a threat.

If you picked up a print copy of The New York Times on Friday, you may have noticed something unusual about it — something missing. There were no front-page headlines about President Trump, no pictures of him — not even a little "key" to a story on an inside page.

The name Trump did appear in one story, a profile of John W. Nicholson Jr., the Army general commanding U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The president was necessarily mentioned in that story, but the story was not about the president.

Five years ago, before he was a candidate for president, Donald Trump was pretty sure he knew what to do about Afghanistan. It was a losing proposition, "a complete waste" in terms of "blood and treasure."

"Why are we continuing to train these Afghanis who then shoot our soldiers in the back?" he asked on Twitter in 2012. "Afghanistan is a complete waste. Time to come home!"

More recently, candidate Trump was less certain about exactly when the U.S. should exit the struggle that he had railed against continuing.

President Trump is only the latest man in the White House to see his plans, his governing coalition and his popular standing all at risk because of a racially charged issue.

You could almost hear the intake of breath from Republicans and all sorts of establishmentarians this week. The reason: their hope that Donald Trump can transition from rabble rousing billionaire to purposeful president with the installation of retired Marine Gen. John Kelly as his chief of staff.

Such a shift has long been known as The Pivot — expected and predicted over and over again since Trump announced his candidacy two years ago.

The week had almost ended when the Twitter item came across. Minutes before quitting time, less than an hour after the markets closed: Gen. John Kelly named White House chief of staff.

The secretary of homeland security was replacing Reince Priebus at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

After about six months and a week, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee had been removed as the No. 1 aide to President Trump.

Updated at 1:55 p.m. ET

In an emotional return to the Senate floor on Tuesday afternoon, Sen. John McCain admonished the leaders of his party for how they managed the health care bill and called instead for "regular order."

President Trump has summoned all Senate Republicans to the White House on Wednesday for a debrief on the state of health care legislation effort in their chamber. Based on the week so far, the meeting may be more like a post mortem.

Now that Donald Trump Jr.'s emails have produced the kind of solid evidence the Russia connection story had been lacking, what had been mostly speculative reporting has instead become the first draft of history.

Expect that history to be much debated. All accounts of political skulduggery with foreign actors tend to be "tangled and murky," as one foreign policy historian has written.

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A MARTINEZ, HOST:

President Trump plans a European trip next week for a gathering of representatives of the world's largest economies — including those of allies such as Britain, Japan and Germany, and rivals such as China and Russia.

Presidential spokesman Sean Spicer held an on-camera briefing at the White House Tuesday, his first in eight days and possibly his last. At least he refused to say it wasn't.

Updated at 11:05 a.m. ET

Ordinary people often get into legal trouble in response to desperate circumstances. Politicians, however, seem to make the worst trouble for themselves when they are riding high and carrying all before them.

Thus the most famous political scandals of U.S. history have happened not when presidents or members of Congress had their backs to the wall but when their sails were filled with a favorable wind.

Until now, all the controversy over President Trump, his associates and their various connections with various Russians has been billows of smoke without a visible fire.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

In the Rose Garden last week President Trump and the House Republican leadership celebrated their vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act as though it had actually repealed and replaced the 2010 law colloquially known as Obamacare.

It had not, of course. Several more giant steps remain in the process. And more than a few of these same Republicans may well be grateful.

President Trump has a flair — perhaps a genius — for counter-programming, which can be described as the art of upstaging your rivals just when they think they're about to have their spotlight moment.

He did it countless times as a candidate, eclipsing all the other Republican contenders and the Democrats as well. He demonstrated his prowess again on the 100th day of his presidency, rallying a blue-collar crowd in Pennsylvania and shunning the annual black-tie White House Correspondents' Association Dinner.

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RAY SUAREZ, HOST:

Ever since election night last November, millions in America and around the world have wondered what happened to Hillary Clinton, who was widely expected to become the first female president of the United States.

In fact, nearly everyone in the business of politics thought she would win, including many of Trump's own people.

So how did she lose?

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This was to have been the week when President Trump turned his fledgling presidency around, setting a course for success and letting the wind fill its sails at last.

Instead, it became his worst week to date, ending with the ship becalmed and its crew in disarray. After other controversies had spoiled the weather, the Republicans proved unable to muster the votes to pass their repeal-and-replace Obamacare bill in the House. The president and Speaker Paul Ryan had to call off the vote scheduled on the floor — not once but twice.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

And to help us understand what's happening on Capitol Hill tonight, I am joined by NPR's Ron Elving. Hello there, Ron.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Kelly.

In a hearing that stretched through nearly 12 hours Tuesday, the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch took a long step toward Senate confirmation.

Barring an utterly unforeseen reversal when the questioning resumes Wednesday, observers expect Judiciary Committee approval along party lines on April 3 and a similar win on the Senate floor.

Twenty senators took turns asking questions for half an hour each. The Republicans tried to get the country to share their affinity for the nominee. The Democrats tried to tie him to President Trump.

Updated at 10:28 a.m. ET

Donald Trump's first speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night was the occasion for his most presidential performance to date, balancing a reprise of his angry campaign themes with a recitation of hopes and dreams for the nation.

It was his most successful, if not his first, effort at assuming the public persona and personal demeanor associated with his new office. He stuck to the script on his teleprompter, spoke graciously to individuals in the audience and refrained from attacks on critics, rivals or adversaries.

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