Lawmakers on Capitol Hill face a lengthy to-do list before they head home for the holidays. Near the top is an issue deemed a priority after last year's election — immigration reform. So far, only the Senate has passed a bill.
Despite the standstill, supporters of immigration reform are pushing to keep the issue alive on a crowded legislative slate.
The leaders of the House and Senate agriculture committees are meeting Wednesday as they continue to try to work out the differences between their respective farm bills. If they fail, the country faces what's being called the "dairy cliff" — with milk prices potentially shooting up to about $7 a gallon sometime after the first of the year.
Here's why: The nation's farm policy would be legally required to revert back to what's called permanent law. In the case of dairy, that would be the 1949 farm bill.
With HealthCare.gov able to handle an increasing number of users, the Obama administration finally went on the offensive to urge Americans to sign up for new health insurance. The administration had planned a massive advertising and social media campaign to support the Affordable Care Act back in October, but the push was delayed for two months after the health insurance exchange website failed in its debut. The effort comes as the deadline for people to sign up for coverage starting next year looms.
While conceding that "more problems may pop up as they always do when you're launching something new," President Obama on Tuesday said the troubled HealthCare.gov website "is working well for the vast majority of users" and his Affordable Care Act "is working and will work into the future."
"We may never satisfy the law's opponents," Obama added during an afternoon event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House. But, he said, "we know the demand [for health insurance] is there and we know the product on these marketplaces is good."
The writer Yuval Levin contends that our divisive political culture comes down to two competing ways for Americans to view their country.
YUVAL LEVIN: You look at the world, it's imperfect. There are good things and bad things. Are you struck first and foremost by the good or are you struck first and foremost by the bad? Do you think this is something to build on or do you think we've got to start over?
While lawyers dismantle many restrictions on political money, the rules affecting Morning Edition and Downton Abbey still stand tall. A federal court in San Francisco says public radio and TV stations cannot carry paid political ads.
The 8-3 decision Monday by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a ruling last April by a smaller panel of the court. NPR and PBS both joined the case as friends of the court.
More than 1 million people will see their extended unemployment benefits immediately cut off at the end of the month if Congress doesn't act.
An emergency federal benefit program was put in place during the recession to help those who are unemployed longer than six months. That allowed them to get as much as a year and a half of help while they searched for work, even after state benefits ran out.
Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 4:06 pm
If nothing else, the Republican National Committee has gotten people thinking about Rosa Parks.
Of course, the RNC also gave its political opponents a chance to mock the GOP with its poorly worded tweet Saturday marking the 58th anniversary of the African-American civil rights activist's refusal to give up her bus seat to a white person, an event that sparked the Montgomery bus boycott.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning.
The end of Thanksgiving weekend brings us closer to another deadline. The budget chairs of the Senate and the House, here in Washington, are continuing talks to set spending levels for the coming year and maybe beyond. They're leading a conference committee setup as part of the deal to end the partial government shutdown this past fall.
In this, the first week of December, the Obama administration says it has met its self-imposed deadline of fixing the troubled healthcare.gov web site. And it says people should be able to sign up for health insurance. So, is it fixed and when will we know for sure?
The online magazine Ozy covers people, places and trends on the horizon. Co-founder Carlos Watson joins All Things Considered regularly to tell us about the site's latest discoveries.
This week, Ozy deputy editor Eugene Robinson fills in for Carlos to tell NPR's Arun Rath about two dueling divas in Bangladeshi politics, the rising popularity of an obscure winter sport, and tattoos that you can wear to work.
Ari Shapiro speaks with political commentators, EJ Dionne of the Washington Post and Brookings Institution and David Brooks of The New York Times. They discuss the latest on the HealthCare.gov Website and the discord over reaching a troop agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene. Good morning. We hope many of you are enjoying some time off for Thanksgiving, maybe doing some shopping, but meanwhile work is continuing on the website for the federal health care exchanges.
Unless Congress acts quickly, taking mass transit to work is about to get more expensive for some people.
For the past four years, public transportation users and people who drive their cars to work and pay for parking have been able set aside up to $245 a month in wages tax free if they're used for commuting costs or workplace parking.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. I'm not trying to scuttle the deal - those words earlier this week from Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey. He's one of several high profile Democrats who voiced skepticism of the agreement announced over the weekend to curb Iran's nuclear program. His chief concern with the deal, that it lets Iran off the hook by offering some $7 billion worth of sanctions relief.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is one of the most prominent critics of the U.S. deal with Iran. While President Obama calls the agreement a breakthrough, Netanyahu calls it a "historic mistake." It's far from the first time the Israeli and American leaders have clashed.
Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu took charge of their countries within a few months of each other. They were hardly a matched pair.
Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 5:29 pm
The Obama administration announced it is delaying until November 2014 a requirement that small businesses shop for health insurance via the troubled federal HealthCare.gov site, which has been blamed for many problems since its launch last month. The shift applies to businesses with fewer than 50 full-time workers.
The new U.S. Treasury/Internal Revenue Service rules aimed at clarifying what constitutes political activity for tax-exempt "social welfare" organizations are likely to give more heartburn to conservative groups than their liberal counterparts.
The United States, along with five other world powers, has signed an agreement with Iran over its controversial nuclear program. What do Iranian expatriates in America think of the deal, which would temporarily ease western sanctions? Host Michel Martin speaks to human rights activist Sussan Tahmasebi and writer Roya Hakakian.
Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 1:27 pm
These are politically segregated times.
Secession movements are active in several states, generally consisting of residents of rural red counties seeking to separate themselves from the more liberal and urban-centered policies of blue-state leaders.
And Democrats and Republicans are much less likely to live among each other than they were a generation ago.
Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 4:42 am
The Obama administration is pushing a new set of regulations that would make it much harder for so-called "social welfare" organizations to engage in political campaigns. This comes after a summer of controversy over the way the IRS treated Tea Party groups applying for tax exempt status.
Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 4:45 am
After years of wide spread fretting about the size of the federal debt and angst about new federal regulations for health care, one federal program is enjoying widespread popularity: Medicaid. Morning Edition examines this political paradox.