It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.
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And I'm David Greene.
Farmers and ranchers across this country expected to start the year with a new farm bill in place. This is an important piece of legislation to many people. It sets agricultural policy for the next five years.
A 32-year-old Bay Area prosecutor will be sworn in to Congress on Thursday after ousting a 40-year incumbent.
California Democrat Eric Swalwell — who will be the second-youngest member of Congress — capitalized on his opponent's gaffes and used old-fashioned door-knocking and high-tech mobile phone outreach to win votes.
His first challenge in Washington might be getting people to pronounce his name correctly. Even senior members of California's congressional delegation have gotten it wrong, saying "Stallwell" instead of "Swalwell."
Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 4:40 am
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been discharged from New York Presbyterian Hospital, where she was admitted Sunday for treatment of a blood clot that followed a concussion she suffered after fainting. Clinton has reportedly been taking blood thinning agents to help the clot dissolve.
"She's eager to get back to the office," according to a statement from Philippe Reines, deputy assistant Secretary of State, announcing Clinton's discharge.
That squabble over aid related to Hurricane Sandy comes at a critical time for House Speaker John Boehner. Tomorrow, Congress is sworn in on Capitol Hill. And in the House, majority Republicans will decide if Boehner keeps his post.
Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 5:43 am
Update at 7:35 a.m ET, Jan. 3. Signed By Autopen:
As many had expected he would, the president did sign the fiscal cliff agreement with an autopen. The bill was back in Washington, D.C., while Obama was in Hawaii on vacation. So, it was signed by an autopen machine that produces a copy of the president's signature. As we outlined earlier, this has been done before.
Our original post — "How Will President Obama Sign The Fiscal Cliff Bill?"
The American Taxpayer Relief Act is 157 pages long. It's not all about avoiding impending tax hikes. Some of it has to do with tax benefits for ceiling fans and tuna canneries. NPR's Ari Shapiro is here to explain.
And Ari, in spending bills, little weird provisions like this might be called pork-barrel spending or projects. Are we looking at a kind of earmark?
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. It's a new year, and on Wall Street and in official Washington, there is the ring of crisis averted. Long threatened across-the-board tax hikes and spending cuts did not materialize, but don't breathe too long a sigh of relief. We're about to look forward to the next few months.
Originally published on Wed January 9, 2013 8:15 am
The drama over the fiscal cliff and the familiar up-against-a-deadline dysfunction of Congress have largely overshadowed the leave-taking of some Capitol Hill originals.
So we wanted to remember a few true congressional trailblazers whose long Washington careers are ending. They include the first openly gay member of Congress, a leader of the libertarian movement, the first Jewish candidate to run on a major party presidential ticket, and the most fervent supporter of a U.S. Department of Peace.
Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 2:03 pm
The budget negotiations that led to a frantic New Year's deal on taxes confirmed many lessons about the way Washington works today.
For one thing, many of the most important relationships in the capitol appear to be broken. President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner led negotiations on a budget deal for most of the post-election period, but once again they came up empty.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Congress clamors back up the cliff but not before the speaker flips off the majority leader, and it's déjà vu all over again as we hit the debt ceiling. It's Wednesday and time for a....
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Groundhog Day...
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?
Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 2:01 pm
(We put a new top on this post at 3:45 p.m. ET.)
The House of Representatives will vote on aid for victims of Superstorm Sandy before Jan. 15, according to promises Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, made to legislators from the affected areas this afternoon. The speaker met with angry representatives at 3 p.m., seeking to quell their outrage over the postponement of a vote on federal help.
We're sorry to start the first work day of 2013 on a negative note, but here goes:
Though the House voted 257-167 late Tuesday to OK legislation that kept the federal government from going over the so-called fiscal cliff — and stopped income taxes from rising for about 99 percent of Americans — lawmakers didn't reach agreement on other very divisive issues.
Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 4:44 am
The budget compromise bill that is meant to allow the U.S. government to avoid higher tax rates and austere budget cuts has tax rates as its central issue, with discussions about more spending cuts, and the federal debt limit, put off until the coming weeks.
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.
It looks like House lawmakers will take action on a compromise bill to avert the fiscal cliff. Early this morning, the Senate approved a compromise deal hammered out by Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Now, it appears the House may follow suit, or at least they'll try. An up or down vote is scheduled later tonight.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. And we begin this hour in limbo. Early this morning, barely two hours into the new year, the Senate voted 89 to 8 to keep tax rates just where they were last year for all household income up to $450,000. Midnight brought the expiration of those rates, along with a schedule of new, deep spending cuts that the Senate vote would delay. But that vote means nothing without the House acting as well.
Arizona's new 9th Congressional District is sending a different type of representative to Washington this week: She's young — 36. She grew up homeless for a time. And she'll be the first openly bisexual member of Congress.
Democrat Kyrsten Sinema marvels at the number of women, minorities and members of the LGBT community who will join her in the freshman class, which will be sworn in Thursday.
Sen.-elect Ted Cruz of Texas is a bright young Hispanic star who will be sworn in this week in Washington. The Republican Party nationally hopes Cruz will be part of the solution to its growing problem luring Hispanic voters.
Almost nobody had heard of Cruz when he began his campaign for the U.S. Senate. But when he stepped in front of a microphone, he could light up a room in a way that made the other Republican candidates seem lifeless.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Early this morning, the Senate approved a fiscal cliff package that includes some important steps forward on taxes, an unemployment extension and a new farm bill, among others. But now it appears that bill may be in trouble in the House of Representatives. NPR senior Washington editor Ron Elving joins us now from his home here in Washington, D.C. Ron, Happy New Year.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan. This afternoon, House Democrats and Republicans are meeting separately to consider the Senate-approved deal that would avert automatic tax hikes and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff. Some House Republicans indicate they'd like to amend that bill and send it back to the Senate, which if it doesn't get done tonight could invalidate the negotiated deal. It would then become a problem for the next Congress, which takes office on Thursday. As of now, no vote is scheduled.
Originally published on Tue January 1, 2013 10:39 am
A compromise deal to stop broad spending cuts and tax increases is headed to the House of Representatives, after receiving strong support in the Senate. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., talks with Steve Inskeep about a possible House vote on the "fiscal cliff" deal.
Cole, the House deputy majority whip who also serves on the Appropriations Committee, says he expects the House to approve the Senate bill, calling it "a pretty big win."
Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 2:23 am
The House of Representatives voted 257-167 late Tuesday to pass a Senate-approved compromise deal that stops large tax increases for 99 percent of Americans, and delays massive spending cuts for two months.
The bill now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.
NPR's S.V. Date is reporting on the deal for our Newscast unit. Here's what he says:
"The eventual deal was hammered out by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden. It passed the Senate with overwhelming, bipartisan support.
Chief Justice John Roberts wants everyone to know the federal judiciary is doing its part to keep down government costs. Roberts used his year-end report on the state of the courts to point out that the judicial branch consumes "a miniscule portion of the federal budget" — about $7 billion in fiscal year 2012, or two-tenths of 1 percent of the total government budget.
The simplest explanation to what's going on in Washington is that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans command majorities in both Houses and control of the White House and you can throw in political realignment as an explanation. Liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats have been diminished to the point of near extinction. But even so, Democrats and Republicans in Congress in years past somehow managed to make deals and legislate despite profound differences.
The Dow Industrials gained 166 points today. That's about 1.3 percent. Before today, the stock market had been steadily drifting lower, losing ground for five straight days. Joining us now to talk about the market is NPR's Jim Zarroli. And, Jim, of course, we don't know how today's talks in Washington will ultimately turn out, but it does appear that before the markets close today news of a deal was moving the markets. True?
As the hours ticked away before the end of the year, Congress still did not have a final package to vote on or even debate to avert automatic tax hikes and spending cuts. NPR's David Welna, reporting from the Capitol, talks with All Things Considered host Audie Cornish to help us understand what the next day or two may hold.