President Obama lays down his marker on guns and exhorts Congress to act. But the House has no intention of voting to ban assault weapons, and rural Democrats in the Senate remain skittish. Meanwhile, Chuck Hagel gets some important backers in his bid to join the cabinet, and Mark Sanford hopes all is forgiven as he tries to return to Congress. But if he deserves a second chance, then so do NPR's Ken Rudin and Ron Elving.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene. Good morning. President Obama is set to take the oath of office for a second time. He has promised an ambitious agenda for the next four years. NPR's Mara Liasson tackles the question of whether it's ambitious enough.
Latino voters were a key to President Obama's victory in November, turning out in big numbers and supporting Obama by more than 2 to 1 over Republican Mitt Romney.
Now, many of those voters say it's time for Obama to do something he did not do in his first term: push hard for and sign a comprehensive immigration overhaul.
Let's start with a group of Latinos — young and old, some U.S. citizens, some not — heading from Florida to Washington, D.C., for Obama's inauguration and for meetings with members of Congress. As caravans go, it's a small one: 13 people in two vans.
The federal government hit its debt limit at the end of last year. Since then, the Treasury Department has been taking what it calls "extraordinary measures" to keep the government funded and avoid defaulting on U.S. obligations.
But those measures will run out sometime between the middle of February and early March. Then it's up to Congress to raise the debt limit.
House Republicans are wrestling with the best strategy at a retreat Thursday and Friday in Virginia. And some have been denying that there is a risk of default if the debt ceiling isn't raised.
House Republicans have left Washington, D.C., and reconvened three hours south, just outside Williamsburg, Va., for a closed-door retreat. They've heard from pollsters about why the public doesn't like them. Now they'll hear from consultants about how to woo women and minorities. David Welna talks to Audie Cornish.
President Obama begins his second term much the way he ended his first — locked in a fiscal fight with congressional Republicans. But the president's argument that the November election would break the logjam hasn't panned out just yet.
Now, let's head back to events in this country. Thousands of Americans will be in Washington to watch history being made at the presidential inauguration, to hear President Obama's vision for the next four years.
Mexico's new president, Enrique Peña Nieto, recently enacted a law to compensate victims of drug violence. It also sets up a national registry to record the crimes. Host Michel Martin discusses the new law with Nik Steinberg of Human Rights Watch.
This is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, for years, we've been telling you about the tens of thousands of people who have been killed or kidnapped by the drug cartels in Mexico, but the truth is, nobody really knew how many there were because nobody kept track. This week, the new president of Mexico signed a new law to set up a national registry of victims and to compensate the families. We'll have more on that in just a few minutes.
You heard the president acknowledge that in some parts of the country - and more specifically, some congressional districts - gun ownership is stronger than in other parts of the country. He would need allies in those places to overcome or persuade the gun industry and its lobbying groups. Industry officials are ready to fight.
As NPR's Jim Zarroli reports, some of the proposals, especially a ban on assault weapons, could take a bite out of gun-makers' revenue.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
President Obama says he's done what he could on his own. Yesterday he signed 23 executive orders related to gun control. They will allow federal agencies to strengthen the existing background check system and improve the tracking of stolen guns. The big ticket items, like universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons and high capacity clips, will need congressional action.
The Department of the Interior is huge — more than 70,000 employees manage a half-billion acres of public land, mostly in the West. The department does everything from operate national parks to administer Native American social programs and manage wild horses.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel. If there is even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try - those words today from President Obama, as he unveiled a far-reaching package of new gun control measures. They fall into two categories: those that require congressional approval, and those that don't.
Lucas Codognolla's hands shake as he waits in line at the Bridgeport, Conn., DMV for his turn to take the road test.
"I don't know if it's nerves or the excitement, you know?" he says.
The 22-year-old's family emigrated from Brazil when was just 9. When he turned 16 and wanted to get his driver's license, his parents sat him down and told him the truth: He was in the country illegally.
Initially, he lied to his friends about why he couldn't drive, he says. But then, as he got older, driving simply became necessary.
Originally published on Wed January 16, 2013 2:31 pm
President Obama's historic plunge Wednesday into the politics and realities of gun control in America has mobilized advocates on both sides of the issue.
But though his major proposals, from banning assault rifles to more stringent background checks and ammunition limits, are being rolled out in the shadow of the school massacre in Newtown, Conn., their Capitol Hill prospects remain highly uncertain given long-standing resistance to such efforts.
In anticipation of Inauguration Day, NPR photographer Becky Lettenberger and producer Justine Kenin visited 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to ask Americans: "What do you want President Obama to remember in his second term?"
This video shows some of the answers we received outside the White House. But that was just the start of a project that we're calling "Dear Mr. President."
Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 12:15 pm
NEAL CONAN, HOST:
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Rockefeller won't run again, Treasury kills the trillion-dollar coin, and the president calls on Congress to pony up. It's Wednesday, and time for a ...
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Deadbeat.
CONAN: ...edition of the Political Junkie.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDINGS)
RONALD REAGAN: There you go again...
WALTER MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad - where's the beef?
Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama are touting new proposals aimed at curbing gun violence. Host Michel Martin learns more from Paul Barrett, author of 'Glock: The Rise of America's Gun' and Craig Whitney, author of 'Living With Guns, A Liberal's Case for the 2nd Amendment.'
Lawmakers in New York are getting tough on guns. They passed a new law expanding the state's ban on assault weapons. It's also meant to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. Host Michel Martin speaks to Thomas Kaplan of The New York Times about the legislation.
Originally published on Wed January 16, 2013 4:22 am
President Obama will make his second speech on guns and gun violence at the White House Wednesday. He is urging Congress to move quickly to pass a raft of bills that would limit access to more deadly weapons. Among the guests at Wednesday's speech: children who wrote to him after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
The House made good on a promise from Speaker John Boehner to pass stalled federal aid for those hit by Hurricane Sandy. Tamara Keith talks to Robert Siegel to explain the politics surrounding the $51 billion package.
Originally published on Tue January 15, 2013 4:41 pm
If you didn't know any better, you might think that even if new gun control proposals from President Obama become stalled in Washington's gridlock, the states will rush in to fill the void.
After all, under its Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York has responded to December's Newtown tragedy by passing legislation banning assault weapons and making it harder for seriously mentally ill individuals to legally obtain firearms.