It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.
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And I'm Steve Inskeep.
Even before the events of the last few days, Congress had a busy agenda. Lawmakers are negotiating over taxes and spending that could affect the economy in the year ahead, not to mention almost every part of the federal government and the take-home pay for millions of Americans.
One person who did have a lot to say about gun control is Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal. He spent several days with grieving residents in Newtown. The Democrat then returned to Washington, and on the Senate floor yesterday, made an emotional plea for stricter gun control. We spoke to him just afterwards.
Senator, this has been a horrible time for the people of your state. We really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us.
Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 4:50 am
Gov. Rick Snyder has vetoed a bill that would have allowed concealed pistols to be carried in schools and other places where they had been banned. The Michigan legislature had approved the legislation when its lame-duck session ended Thursday — one day before the Newtown elementary school shootings.
As NPR's Rick Pluta reported for today's Morning Edition, Snyder has said that Friday's tragedy played a role in his consideration of the bill:
Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 4:23 pm
If President Obama takes the lead in a movement for more effective gun control now that he's been stirred to action by the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, it would mark a significant break from his pattern so far as chief executive.
For while Obama has dutifully served as the nation's consoler in chief in localities where the all-too-frequent mass shootings have occurred, that has seemed the extent of the official response observable to White House outsiders.
The National Rifle Association of America has broken its silence to comment on Friday's gun violence that ravaged a tight-knit Connecticut community, releasing a statement in which the gun-owners' rights group said it "is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again."
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. One week before Christmas and there's still no deal to avert the big tax increases and federal spending cuts slated for the end of the year. Today, House Speaker John Boehner is floating the idea of a backup plan if talks between him and the president break down.
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: At the same time that we're going to continue to talk with the president, we're going to also move plan B.
Over the weekend, President Obama delivered a passionate plea to prevent gun violence, saying we haven't done enough as a country to keep our children safe. The president promised to use all the powers of his office to address the issue in the coming weeks. NPR's Scott Horsley reports on the president's next steps.
Ask the average person — even in Washington — who serves as President Obama's chief of staff and you'll probably get a blank stare.
Jack Lew hasn't been heard or seen in the "fiscal cliff" drama unfolding between the White House and Congress. But the former budget director, who took over the top White House job last January, has become a key player behind the scenes.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, now that a couple of states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, can parents still tell their kids to just say no? We'll hear from a pediatrician who works with substance-addicted teens about why it's still important to have the talk about drug use, and to pay attention to what you as a parent are modeling with your own behavior. That's coming up.
Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii passed away Monday at the age of 88. Inouye was one of the longest-serving members of the Senate and a veteran of World War II. Host Michel Martin pays tribute to the senator, reprising a conversation they had on the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 10:35 am
It's not the cutting, it's the uncertainty.
That's the lament these days from governors and mayors awaiting the outcome of federal budget negotiations.
They know they're likely to take a hit; they just don't know how bad it's going to be.
"How do you budget for the unknown?" wonders Ed Long, the county executive in Fairfax County, Va. "Our worst fear is that by [the federal government] not acting, the economy is going to get worse going forward."
Hawaii Democrat Daniel Inouye, the Senate's senior member, died at a Bethesda, Md., hospital Monday. He was 88 years old and was suffering from a respiratory ailment. The Japanese-American was known for his heroism in World War II and for breaking racial barriers.
Born to Japanese immigrants in Hawaii in 1924, the young Inouye dreamed of becoming a surgeon, but world events intervened as he was listening to the radio on Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941.
Rick Snyder faces a stark choice on whether to allow concealed pistols in schools. In the closing hours of its lame duck session — and the day before the Sandy Hook killing spree — Michigan's legislature approved a bill that would allow concealed pistols in places where they are currently banned. The bill has yet to be formally presented to the governor, but once it is, he has 14 days to decide what he will do.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley named a fellow Republican, Rep. Tim Scott, as the state's next senator on Monday. He replaces retiring Republican Sen. Jim DeMint and will make history as the first black senator from the South since 1881.
Haley, however, wanted everyone to know her selection was based on Scott's merit, not his race.
South Carolina is getting a new U.S. senator. Governor Nikki Haley announced today that she is appointing Republican Congressman Tim Scott to fill the seat being vacated by Jim DeMint who's retiring. Scott is a freshman member of the House.
And as NPR's Brian Naylor reports, he will be the first African-American senator from the South since Reconstruction.
Inside a modest storefront in Loxley, Ala., 18-year-old Maria Lola Melisio points out the Mexican spices and other products for sale in her mother's market.
"There are the leaves where you make your tamales — you roll them up in that," she says.
Melisio has long dark curls and is wearing a houndstooth scarf in support of the Alabama Crimson Tide. When she was 7 years old, she entered the U.S. illegally from Mexico with her mother, and still has a scar on her back from crawling under the border fence. It's a story she's kept secret until now.
California Senator Dianne Feinstein, reacting to the shooting deaths in Newtown, Connecticut, called yesterday for reinstating the Assault Weapon Ban, which was in effect from 1994 until 2004 when the law expired. How effective was it?
Well, we're going to ask Professor Daniel Webster who studies firearm policy and gun violence prevention. His field is public health, and he's at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Webster, welcome to the program.
Discussions here in Washington are intensifying between House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama as they try to find an agreement to avert a raft of year-end spending cuts and tax increases. The two men met today at the White House for 45 minutes. NPR's Tamara Keith joins us now from Capitol Hill with an update. And, Tamara, there does seem to have been something of a breakthrough in negotiations. Speaker Boehner agreed to let tax rates rise. President Obama came back with a counteroffer. Where are we right now?
Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 5:55 am
In a pair of recent decisions, the Supreme Court has made it clear that Americans have a constitutional right to own handguns for self-defense. But the court will nonetheless allow "reasonable regulations" on firearms.
The country appears set, following the mass shootings at a school in Newtown, Conn., to have a debate about what restrictions should be put in place.
Members of Congress have already signaled their intent to introduce gun-control legislation next year, which President Obama has indicated in recent days will be a priority.
Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 12:10 am
It's a big day in the religious and culinary calendar of the Republic of Georgia. Georgian Orthodox believers observe Dec. 17 as St. Barbara's Day, in honor of an early Christian martyr. And they typically mark the occasion by eating a type of stuffed bread called lobiani, baked with a filling of boiled beans with coriander and onions.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Last night President Obama broke a long silence and called for a meaningful response to Friday's atrocity in Newtown, where a gunman murdered 27 people, including 20 first grade students, and then shot himself.
Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 12:50 pm
Remember the important contributions Republicans made to civil rights legislation back in the 1960s?
They've almost been lost to memory. When Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the GOP presidential nominee that year, Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, opposed it, and Republicans have never recovered their former share of support among African-Americans.
Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 10:48 am
If President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner's closed-door meetings aimed at solving the fiscal cliff crisis trouble anyone, you'd expect it to be the open-government watchdogs who routinely bark their outrage at public officials who work overtime to avoid public scrutiny.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Later in the program we are going to revisit a story that caught our attention about poverty in a place that often seems overlooked. We'll hear about a young woman in the Rust Belt trying to figure out a path to a better life.
Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 4:26 am
Police on Sunday said 20-year-old Adam Lanza was armed with a high-powered rifle, two handguns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition when he forcibly entered a Newtown, Conn., elementary school and proceeded to gun down 20 young students and six faculty members.
The latest information on the tragedy, the worst violence at an elementary school in U.S. history, came ahead of President Obama's arrival in the town where Friday's mass shooting took place. The president met with families of the victims and planned to attend an evening vigil, where he will speak.