Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 12:23 pm
"Washington sure isn't making it easy" for the American people and the American economy, President Obama told reporters late Friday morning as he and other lawmakers failed to reach a deal to avert $85 billion worth of automatic "sequester" spending cuts due to start at the end of the day.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, you've heard the pundits and the politicians give their take on the new S-word - sequestration. We'll ask the Barber Shop guys for their perspective on this later in the program. But first we want to talk about another big topic in Washington this week. That is the challenge to the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. That's before the Supreme Court, specifically section five of the act.
As I just mentioned, the automatic spending cuts go into effect today, covering much of the federal budget, and we were trying to talk with Lamar Smith about where those cuts might come, obviously across the board. Well, someone who might be more forthcoming or know more about it is here with us, Michael Lubell. He is professor of physics at City College at the City University of New York, director of public affairs at the American Physical Society. He's here in our New York Studio. Good to see you again.
Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 11:03 am
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, discusses the nation's top science priorities, including the importance of research on how to protect Earth from dangerous asteroids. But in a tight budgetary climate, who will pay?
The sequester is upon us, and NPR's Ken Rudin and Ron Elving try to explain how it all affects them. But it's a good week for Chuck Hagel, who finally gets the votes he needs to become Defense Secretary, and Robin Kelly, who wins the Democratic primary in Illinois' 2nd district and is likely to succeed Jesse Jackson Jr. in the House.
President Obama and Congressional leaders met at the White House Friday morning and, just as pundits predicted, they could not reach a deal to avert the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts set to begin at the end of the day. We've posted on that news:
Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus has begun a series of meetings with groups that have overwhelmingly gone Democratic in the past two presidential elections.
He's sitting down with Latino and Asian voters and with young people across the country. The youth group is of particular concern to the GOP because voting habits established at this stage could last a lifetime.
College students at Ohio State University were eager to talk about the state of the GOP brand. The class is called American Political Parties.
Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 5:17 pm
If New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was hoping for a return invite to the big CPAC convention this year, he probably should have thought of that before he bad-mouthed House Speaker John Boehner a couple of months back.
Christie was incensed by the House's failure to pass a relief bill helping victims of Superstorm Sandy, which hammered New Jersey and the rest of the Northeast last autumn. In typical Christie style, he did not pull any punches.
The network of political groups headed by conservative industrialists David and Charles Koch spent millions of undisclosed dollars in last year's elections. Now, after failing to help Republicans win the White House or the Senate, the Koch brothers are re-examining the network, its goals and strategies.
President Obama minced no words when he talked about how the looming budget cuts known as sequestration could hurt the Justice Department.
"FBI agents will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go," Obama said.
Starting late Friday, if Congress and the White House can't come to an agreement, the Justice Department will face $1.6 billion in cuts — about 9 percent of its budget. Attorney General Eric Holder told a group of state law enforcement officials who met in Washington this week that the situation looks ugly.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
It has been a long, strange journey on Capitol Hill for the Violence Against Women Act. Today, after months of debate, the House finally passed an extension of the law, known as VAWA, and sent it to the president. It helps combat sexual assault and domestic violence. But the law had gotten tangled up over other hot-button political issues.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. The metaphors become unbearably trite: the debt ceiling; the fiscal cliff and now the meat cleaver of the sequestration. Details are important, we'll get to those in a moment, but underlying the repeated rounds of budgetary crisis, lies a deeper political paralysis.
Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 1:13 pm
After years of legal wrangling, the Defense of Marriage Act — the law that prevents the federal government from recognizing marriage as anything but a "legal union between one man and one woman" — comes before the Supreme Court next month.
Gun violence devastates many predominantly African-American neighborhoods in places across the country. But some faith leaders feel that legal access to guns is part of the solution, not the problem. Host Michel Martin speaks with Reverend Kenn Blanchard about why he wants his congregation to have wider access to guns.
For the first time, Kenya recently aired presidential debates, ahead of its election. But despite the wide audience, many people doubt the country can get through the election without violence. Host Michel Martin catches up with journalist and debate moderator Uduak Amimo.
It may never have been intended to play out in quite this way, but the automatic spending cuts set to take effect for most federal programs Friday leave little room for preserving the most visible and popular programs.
"The law basically says the cuts have to be across-the-board by 'project, program and activity,' " says Stan Collender, a federal budget expert with the communications firm Qorvis. "That was specifically written to take away flexibility from the administration."
Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 8:39 am
It all depends on how you interpret the phrase "you will regret doing this." That piece of advice coming from a parent might be taken far differently than it would as a line from a Joe Pesci movie.
Where it falls on a spectrum from friendly advice to outright threat is apparently a matter of opinion. Bob Woodward, The Washington Post reporter of Watergate fame, and the Obama White House disagree on more than just the sequester story.
The "it" is sequestration — $85 billion worth of across-the-board federal spending cuts that are due to start kicking in at the end of Friday unless Republican and Democratic leaders somehow bridge their differences.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne.
A hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday included tears, cheers and a recording of bursts of gunfire. It was all part of a new push by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to reinstate a ban on assault weapons, a ban that expired nearly a decade ago.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne. Good morning.
The sequester countdown calendar now has the number one on it. Tomorrow is the big day. Over time, the automatic across the board spending cuts could slow economic growth and lead to the furlough of hundreds of thousands of government employees. And we're going hear more about that in a moment.
NPR congressional correspondent Tamara Keith begins our coverage with the efforts to stop that from happening.
Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 3:17 pm
The victory of a pro-gun-control candidate in the Illinois Democratic primary race to replace Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was also a political win for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose superPAC backed the winner over a candidate it linked to the NRA.
But Robin Kelly's victory Tuesday was, for Bloomberg, more than just another achievement on the gun control front. It was one more win in Bloomberg's unique assault on what he views as the public health problems of our time.
And now it's a supersize edition of the Political Junkie. Ken Rudin, of course, is staying with us. John Kasich, Rick Scott, now, Chris Christie - three high-profile Republican governors and outspoken critics of Obamacare - have all decided to accept federal money to expand Medicaid coverage. The governor of New Jersey explained his reasoning yesterday.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. The mayor of New York plays kingmaker in Chicago. The Senate ends the filibuster that wasn't, and the first lady opens the envelope. It's Wednesday and time for a...
(SOUNDBITE OF DRUM ROLL)
MICHELLE OBAMA: Argo...
CONAN: Edition of the Political Junkie.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDINGS)
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.
VICE PRESIDENT WALTER MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad: Where's the beef?