The six-month agreement struck between Iran and Western nations last weekend lays out a detailed plan of inspection for Iran's nuclear facilities. The White House calls it "unprecedented transparency and intrusive monitoring." So how will that work? Melissa Block speaks with Dr. David A. Kay, former U.N. Chief Weapons Inspector, to find out.
Much of the criticism of the interim nuclear deal reached with Iran Sunday has focused on the sanctions relief Iran will receive over the next six months if it follows through on restricting its nuclear program. Although the only irreversible relief being offered is a gradual release of $4.2 billion in frozen Iranian revenue, critics warn that the "architecture of the sanctions regime has been undermined." Analysts say all the important sanctions hampering Iran's economy remain in place, but the announcement of the deal itself is having a psychological impact on markets.
President Obama's Affordable Care Act will be back before the Supreme Court this spring. This time, the issue is whether for-profit corporations citing religious objections may refuse to provide contraceptive services in health insurance plans offered to employees.
In enacting the ACA, Congress required large employers who offer health care services to provide a range of preventive care, including no-copay contraceptive services. Religious nonprofits were exempted from this requirement, but not for-profit corporations.
Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 1:29 pm
Ending the year by weighing in again on a topic that caused it great grief back in the spring, the Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday defined limits on the political activity of tax-exempt "social welfare" organizations.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez has only been in office for a few months, but he's already making waves. He's pushing for a higher minimum wage and immigration reform. Perez speaks with host Michel Martin about his goals for the U.S. labor force.
On Monday, Republicans held the second of at least four planned hearings that Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has said will focus on health insurance price increases he blames on the Affordable Care Act.
The troubled rollout of the ACA has also shaken relations between the White House and congressional Democrats. For more on that we're joined by NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson at the White House.
Hey there, Mara.
MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Audie.
CORNISH: So this isn't just about Darrel Issa stirring up anger, right? I guess Democrats genuinely worry that this rollout has hurt them heading into 2014, as Don just mentioned. So where do things stand?
Secretary of State John Kerry will have to work hard to allay concerns about the Iran deal, concerns from U.S. allies, including Saudi Arabia and Israel. And as Melissa just mentioned, the White House faces criticism from some in Congress. Kerry will need to convince senators not to impose additional sanctions on Iran so that negotiators can come up with a comprehensive deal over the next six months. As NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, Kerry seems to be well positioned to take on the challenges.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. The nuclear accord reached over the weekend with Iran is, according to President Obama, an important first step. The new Iranian president calls it a definite achievement but to the Israeli prime minister it's a historic mistake. The six-month deal freezes important parts of Iran's nuclear problem. In exchange, Iran gets temporary relief from economic sanctions amounting to about $7 billion.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
In a diplomatic breakthrough, Iran has agreed to temporary limits on its nuclear program. In exchange, the U.S. and its allies have agreed to relax some of their crippling economic sanctions on Iran. The six-month agreement is designed to buy time to negotiate a more lasting deal that would prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It's already drawn a skeptical response in Israel and from some lawmakers here at home.
Originally published on Sat November 23, 2013 12:22 pm
Once again raising expectations that a deal over Iran's nuclear program is at hand, Secretary of State John Kerry joined the foreign ministers of the U.K., Russia, China, France and Germany in Geneva to try to hammer out an agreement that would curb Iran's nuclear work in exchange for the loosening of some sanctions.
Senate Democrats eliminated the filibuster this week for all presidential appointments other than Supreme Court justices. The so-called nuclear option could prompt President Obama to make different picks for his top positions. NPR's senior Washington editor Ron Elving joins host Scott Simon to talk about the historic vote.
Just a few weeks after his landslide re-election victory, the New Jersey governor won a second election this week: chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
The RGA chair is a largely ceremonial role, but in it, Christie will travel the country campaigning for other Republicans in gubernatorial races in 2014, a job that many see as groundwork for a potential White House run.
Another day brings another delay for the federal health law known as the Affordable Care Act.
On Friday, the Obama administration announced that, starting next year, it is pushing back the start of the sign-up period for those buying individual and small business insurance until mid-November, rather than mid-October. That will give insurance companies some extra time to set their premiums, given this year's difficulties.
And, as some analysts point out, the delay may also ease some political concerns for Democrats.
New Yorkers have a new way to deliver messages to their newly elected mayor, Bill de Blasio. It's a tent, a huge, translucent one on Canal Street called The Talking Transition Tent. More than 11,000 people have wandered through it so far, and it's become a kind of 21st-century soapbox, as NPR's Margot Adler reports.
It's time to talk politics now with our Friday regulars, columnist E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and the Brookings Institution and David Brooks of the New York Times who joins us this week from Stanford University. Welcome back to both of you.
E.J. DIONNE: Good to be here.
DAVID BROOKS: Good to be here.
SIEGEL: Start with filibusters. You've heard Ailsa Chang's story. David, is today's level of cooperation in the Senate so paltry that the GOP threat of no more Mr. Nice Guy was worth the Democrats ignoring?
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. Is Washington headed for smoother operation or more dysfunction than ever? Democrats made big changes to the rules of the U.S. Senate yesterday. The changes kill the ability of the minority, the Republicans, to filibuster most presidential nominations.
Grammy Award-winning musician Esperanza Spalding has a problem with using the phrase "protest song" to describe her new recording, "We Are America." The song, along with its accompanying music video, demands congressional action to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.
" 'Protest' doesn't seem accurate to me," she tells NPR's Celeste Headlee. "We weren't thinking of a 'protest' song, we're thinking of a 'let's get together and do something pro-active, creative and productive' song."
The Senate voted on Thursday to abandon precedent and change its rules to end the filibuster for most of President Obama's judicial and Cabinet nominations. The rules change strips the Senate's GOP minority of a potent tool.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene. The Federal Election Commission has turned back a bid by conservatives to weaken the federal campaign-finance disclosure law. A Tea Party group had asked for a precedent-changing decision to keep its donor lists secret. It said Tea Party members are being targeted for harassment and intimidation. NPR's Peter Overby reports.
The Senate's vote on Thursday to change its rules and approve presidential appointments by a simple majority, presents new opportunities for the president. Until now, dozens of appointments to the administration and the federal bench have been held up because they could not get the needed 60 votes in the Senate.