This is a midterm election year, and the jockeying for position and the mud-slinging have already begun ahead of the November vote. The calendar is much shorter in one district in Florida. Voters there go to the polls next month in a special election that some pundits see as a good preview for the fall.
The election is to fill a seat held for more than 40 years by one congressman, Republican Bill Young. NPR's Greg Allen reports that Democrats have their best chance of winning this seat in decades.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
The immigration issue has become a political hot potato for Republicans. Last year, the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill, and the House decided not to take it up. But then House Republicans changed their minds briefly until they gave up again. NPR's Mara Liasson explains where things stand now.
Originally published on Sun February 16, 2014 10:11 am
Secretary of State John Kerry is continuing a push to move climate change to the top of the global agenda, telling an audience in the archipelago nation of Indonesia that rising global temperatures and sea levels could threaten their "entire way of life."
Originally published on Sat February 15, 2014 2:25 pm
Passage of a bill to increase the Turkish government's control over the country's judicial system on Saturday came down to a real fight in Parliament, literally.
Two members of Parliament were injured — one with a broken nose — during debate over the controversial measure to give the Justice Ministry greater control over the selection of judges. The measure ultimately passed, but not before some minor bloodshed.
And joining us now are our regular Friday political commentators, E.J. Dionne and David Brooks. As I learned to say from a New York Times item this week, they both practice columnizing. David at the Times and E.J. at The Washington Post when he's not at the Brookings Institution. It's good to see you both.
DAVID BROOKS: Good to see you.
E.J. DIONNE: Good to be with you.
SIEGEL: So first, and let's start with you, David, how important was John Boehner's surprising turn on the debt ceiling this week?
In California's farm rich Central Valley, where President Obama meets Friday with farmers and others who are affected by the state's historic drought, Todd Allen nods towards a field of brown, baked dirt passing by the right side of his truck.
"Here's a plot of ground that I'm not going to be able to farm. That's 160 acres," he says.
Allen owns a farm about an hour's drive west of Fresno, where half of the country's produce is grown. Usually Allen's fields contain cantaloupe, cotton, tomato and wheat.
A high-stakes drama played out over the debt ceiling on Capitol Hill this week. It ended with President Obama getting exactly what he'd asked for — an extension of the Treasury's borrowing authority with no strings attached — and an even wider gulf between GOP congressional leaders and Tea Party-aligned conservatives.
Underlying the Republican rift was House Speaker John Boehner's determination to avoid another episode like last fall's government shutdown.
For years, Native Americans and others have criticized the Washington Redskins football team for having a name, they say, is offensive. Well now, the National Football League is feeling the pressure too. As NPR's Ailsa Chang reports, two members of Congress are demanding that the NFL take a formal position in support of a name change.
Doug Hattaway, the president of Hattaway Communications, drops by to discuss how changing just one word can often change the whole message of a particular argument. This week, just such a change helped pave the way for a Democrat and Republican agreement on lifting the debt ceiling.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Much of the East Coast is digging out from ice and snow including Washington, D.C. But members of Congress beat the bad weather out of town and are back in their districts for a two week recess, this after a vote to raise the debt ceiling - a vote that came unusual for these times without an ugly showdown.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Much of the eastern part of the country is digging out from fresh layers of snow and slush. Much of the western part of the country is not.
MONTAGNE: Snow pack in the Sierra Nevada mountains is less than 30 percent of what it should be this year. That means farmers and ranchers will have to get by with much less water than they'd like come this spring.
Iran's economy may be struggling, but that doesn't mean everyone is suffering.
In a downtown Tehran restaurant, a well-dressed young man who asks to be identified only as Ahmad sits with a friend enjoying a water pipe of flavored tobacco.
Ahmad is a bit vague about what he does — first he says he's in the petrochemical business, then describes himself as an independent trader. He shares the general consensus that President Hassan Rouhani has brought a better atmosphere to the country but no real economic changes.
Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 6:26 pm
By filing his lawsuit against the Obama administration, including the National Security Agency, over the intelligence agency's collection of phone call data, Sen. Rand Paul now has ownership of a major issue in a way no other potential 2016 presidential candidate can lay claim.
House Democrats face a decidedly grim election season.
Their hopes of wresting control from the GOP look increasingly remote. Their legislative agenda is stymied. And some of their biggest liberal standard-bearers – Californians Henry Waxman and George Miller — are retiring.
So, as they hunker down on Maryland's Eastern Shore for their annual "issues conference" Thursday and Friday, why do they seem to be in such good spirits?
This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Corporations work hard to influence Congress and public opinion. My guest, Eric Lipton, is an investigative reporter for the New York Times who's been writing about how corporations work in opaque ways to shape debates on issues ranging from whether we should raise the minimum wage to whether high-fructose corn syrup is less healthy than sugar.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Valentine's Day is tomorrow and that means that millions of American men and women are making plans to please their romantic partners, at least in parts of the country where they are not buried under snow and ice. But what you might not know is that, for some years now, the federal government has been involved, not so much in romance, but in teaching families so-called relationship skills.
It's been four years since the Supreme Court's controversial Citizens United ruling, the case that set the stage for unlimited and often undisclosed contribution money in federal elections. This year, the superPACs and social welfare organizations that use that money for attack ads are already at it, even as Republicans and Democrats are still choosing their candidates for the fall campaigns.
Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 6:48 pm
The commission President Obama appointed last year to figure out how to fix long lines at the polls and other election problems has sought to steer clear of the many partisan land mines surrounding how Americans vote.
The two co-chairmen of the panel continued to that navigation Wednesday as they presented their unanimous recommendations to the Senate Rules Committee.
Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 4:45 pm
The Capitol Hill crackdown on sexual assaults in the U.S. military has been a rare mission on which Republicans and Democrats have found common ground over the past year.
The effort, spearheaded by Senate women — including an unprecedented seven on the Armed Services Committee — has already resulted in scores of tough new provisions designed to root out sexual predators, improve victims' services, and end commanders' ability to overturn jury convictions.
Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 2:22 pm
The Senate has voted to extend the federal debt limit, giving final congressional approval to a bill that is meant to cover the government's finances into 2015. The measure passed on a 55-43 vote.
But the most dramatic phase of the legislation's passage came just before the final tally, when it had to get past a cloture vote. Politico says, "Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) demanded the 60-vote threshold on the debt hike."
Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 5:35 am
A federal jury has found Ray Nagin guilty of bribery and fraud. The former New Orleans mayor, 57, was accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks, in an indictment that included 21 counts. He was found guilty on 20 of those counts.
Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 8:35 am
Six months after Democratic Mayor Bob Filner left office in disgrace because more than a dozen women had stepped forward to accuse him of sexual harassment, San Diegans have chosen a Republican to take over.