Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh, a Democrat, was appointed Friday to fill the unexpired term of longtime Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, who is leaving the Senate to serve as U.S. ambassador to China.
Walsh, 53, was already an announced candidate for the seat Baucus had planned to vacate at the end of this year. His appointment by Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock gives the former adjutant general of the Montana National Guard a leg up in the November contest to replace the six-term senator.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. If you've ever been pulled over for speeding or a busted taillight, you know that what comes next can be annoying and expensive - a ticket, possibly a court date. Now if you can pay, you pay and you go on about your business. But what if you can't? Well, you could end up on probation, and that's what we want to talk about today. Across the country, probation services are being privatized meaning that for-profit companies are running them, and they can tack on all sorts of fees.
Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 1:13 pm
The groundwork being laid for a Hillary Clinton presidential run in 2016 overlooks a single, almost unthinkable scenario: What if she doesn't run?
After all, while that might sound like heresy to the various Democratic groups now raising money, locking down political talent and generally acting as a campaign-in-waiting on her behalf, it's not certain she will run.
Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 8:35 am
He's far behind former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a recent poll of Democrats, but Vice President Joe Biden tells CNN that "there's no obvious reason" why he shouldn't seek his party's 2016 presidential nomination.
When it became clear that the congressional budget deal included a cut to military pensions, veterans service organizations sprang into action. The question now is whether the powerful lobby will be able to roll back the cuts in the pensions.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made combating climate change a major focus during his time in office. Now, the billionaire businessman and philanthropist has a new international role to push his message. He has been appointed the U.N. special envoy for cities and climate change. Melissa Block talks with Bloomberg about the new job and what cities can do to fight climate change.
It's been almost eight months since the Supreme Court effectively stuck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. That section required places with a history of discrimination to get their local voting laws cleared by the federal government. When the Supreme Court ruled, it said people could file lawsuits if they felt disenfranchised. But it hasn't quite worked out that way.
It was annual Senate retreat time in Washington this week, a moment when senators get away from the U.S. Capitol, free themselves of their staffs and daily legislative, office and fundraising chores, and try to gain some fresh perspective.
They didn't go far, mind you. Senate Democrats met Wednesday at Washington Nationals Park about a mile and half away from Capitol Hill, still in sight of the Rotunda. Republicans merely repaired to their usual place across the street from the Capitol, the Library of Congress.
Members of the punk protest band Pussy Riot were just released from jail after spending nearly two years in a penal colony for a controversial performance at a Moscow church in 2012, but they are far from done fighting. Nadezhda "Nadya" Tolokonnikova and Maria "Masha" Alyokhina continue to be outspoken against human rights abuses in Russia, bringing the band's message to the U.S. for the first time.
Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 1:50 pm
If you wanted to pursue a career in politics, you could have done worse than appearing in the 1987 movie Predator.
That movie featured not only Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura — future governors of California and Minnesota, respectively — but Sonny Landham, who later ran for governor and senator in Kentucky.
Here's another way congressional Democrats are using the Budget Office report in support of the Affordable Care Act. They're defending an obscure provision in the law that serves to backstop insurance companies participating in the health plan exchanges. And in a flip of party stereotypes, this has Democrats standing up for the insurance companies and Republicans clashing with big business.
On Tuesday, economists with the Congressional Budget Office announced findings that indicated the new health care law may result in hundreds of thousands leaving the workforce. The findings spurred new debate on the merits of the law and its economic impact. NPR's Scott Horsley has more on the reactions to the report.
Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 11:00 am
The White House on Wednesday rolled out a high-profile plan to help farmers and ranchers adjust to climate changes that have already begun to upend growing seasons and threaten livestock.
The "climate hub" initiative was praised by environmentalists, though they were quick to warn President Obama that it would not provide him cover on another environmental issue in the headlines: the Keystone XL pipeline.
Count Sandra Fluke out — at least on a national level, for now.
After suggesting that she was gearing up for a possible congressional campaign, the women's rights activist and lawyer has announced she won't be entering the race for California Rep. Henry Waxman's soon-to-be-available seat after all.
Instead, Fluke says she's pursuing a different route: She plans to run for the state Senate spot currently held by Ted Lieu.
Lieu is running for Waxman's job, as is former City Controller Wendy Greuel, a finalist in last year's Los Angeles mayoral race.
The new Congressional Budget Office report gives ammunition to Republicans and puts Democrats on the defensive. It said the Affordable Care Act would reduce the number of full-time workers by more than 2 million by the year 2024. But as usual, the truth is more complicated than the headlines and press releases suggest.
Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 5:27 pm
Leaders of the Republican Party acknowledge they have a problem attracting minority voters — especially African-Americans, 93 percent of whom voted for President Obama in 2012, compared with just 6 percent for GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
That chasm is at the heart of a new initiative by the Republican National Committee during February. In its first-ever Black History Month ad campaign, the RNC has launched radio spots aimed at African-American audiences in a handful of cities: Washington, D.C.; Detroit, Cleveland and Atlanta.
A new front has opened in the political battle over the Affordable Care Act, with Tuesday's release of the Congressional Budget Office's annual budget and economic outlook. The economists updated an earlier estimate about how many workers would leave the workforce because they no longer needed a job to have health care coverage — revising upward from 800,000 people to over 2 million people. Republicans pounced on the higher number, and President Obama now finds himself playing defense.
The federal government's deficit is shrinking quite quickly — and that may not necessarily be a good thing. As congressional forecasters lower their predictions for economic growth over the next decade, some experts are saying that gross domestic product and unemployment figures would look better, were it not for the government's rapid push to get a handle on the deficit.
Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 9:50 am
Boston physician Vivek Murthy was expected to run into political headwinds Tuesday during his Senate confirmation hearing for the post of the nation's top doc — surgeon general.
Murthy, 36, the founder of a national physicians group that worked to pass the Affordable Care Act, was seen by some as vulnerable to GOP attacks because of his political work, his youth and his less-than-a-lifetime of public health experience — not to mention a few impolitic tweets guaranteed to rile conservatives.
Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 4:45 pm
Add women's rights activist Sandra Fluke to the roster of Democrats hoping to succeed Rep. Henry Waxman.
Fluke has filed with the California Democratic Party to seek its endorsement for the heavily Democratic Los Angeles-based seat held by Waxman since 1975.
She's listed on the state party's website as one of three candidates who have officially filed in the 33rd Congressional District. The other two are state Sen. Ted Lieu and Wendy Greuel, a finalist in last year's Los Angeles mayoral race.
I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. We're a month into a new year, but we want to start the program today talking through some of the old issues that are bubbling back up in Washington. The political parties are doing that, too. In fact, House Republicans just finished a three-day retreat in Maryland to plan their strategy for the year. And one of the issues they focused on was immigration.