For the first time since the housing crash, lawmakers are getting serious about dismantling the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They were rescued with $190 million bailout. Two prominent senators - a Democrat and a Republican - have a bill that's attracting some bipartisan support. A separate Republican bill is being introduced in the House today and a third may soon come from Democrats. NPR's Chris Arnold reports.
In an interview this week, Univision's Adriana Vargas asked President Obama if, in the event Congress failed to pass immigration legislation, he could simply use his presidential power to give amnesty to the estimated 11 million people currently in the U.S. illegally.
The president didn't exactly shut the door on that possibility, though he did strongly suggest it was a portal he'd rather not go through.
Liz Cheney's campaign to nudge veteran GOP Sen. Mike Enzi into retirement has become an official challenge to his re-nomination. Enzi, 69, has said he is seeking another term. Audie Cornish speaks with NPR's Mara Liasson about the questions Cheney's campaign raises: Will he still run? And what implications does this have for Wyoming, for control of the Senate in 2015 and for women in the Republican Party in the long run?
This is a big year for mayor's races. And it was supposed to be "the year of the woman" for mayoral candidates.
When 2013 began, there was a fair amount of hope that women could make up for their relatively measly representation in local offices nationwide by capturing the mayoralty in three of the nation's five largest cities.
In January, most members of Congress were catching their breath after a long campaign. Not California Rep. Mike Honda.
Just two months after winning a landslide re-election victory, the veteran Democrat was already busy campaigning for 2014. By the end of February, he had a campaign team in place. And he had lined up endorsements from a list of national Democratic heavyweights, beginning with President Obama.
Why the hurry?
A potential Democratic opponent named Ro Khanna was eyeballing Honda's seat.
Democrats had been preparing to change Senate rules on filibusters to push through President Obama's nominations to executive branch positions. Republicans agreed to allow votes on five nominations, and Democrats agreed to replace two particularly contentious names with others.
And support is growing in Congress for a bill that to allow military prosecutors to decide whether or not to try serious military crimes, including sexual assault. That would take the decision out of the hands of commanders, commanders who are in a position of overseeing the careers of both the victims and the accused. NPR's Ailsa Chang reports that two Republican senators and possible presidential hopefuls in 2016 are joining forces with Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 10:55 am
Liz Cheney, the elder of former Vice President Dick Cheney's two daughters, a former State Department official and a conservative commentator who's often on Fox, is going to challenge Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi in next year's Republican primary.
According to The Associated Press, Cheney, 46, confirmed what had been wide speculation about her plans on Tuesday — not long after the 69-year-old Enzi said that he will seek a fourth term.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, at a news conference Tuesday with Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas (right) and Rand Paul of Kentucky. Paul and Cruz have endorsed Gillibrand's bill regarding sexual assault in the military.
On most recent days, nothing that wasn't bitterly partisan has seemed possible in the nation's capital.
On Tuesday, the city got its exception.
Republican Tea Party Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas stood with liberal Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, endorsing her bill that would dramatically change how military sexual assault cases are reported and prosecuted.
From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. The Senate went to the brink of the so-called nuclear option but then, today, dialed it back. Senators struck a last minute deal in their fight over President Obama's nominations. Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid had threatened a rules change. It would've stripped the Republican minority of their ability to filibuster executive branch nominations. The deal reached this morning diffuses that threat, at least for now.
A new investigative report from Reuters says payroll errors in the military are widespread. And that "once mistakes are detected, getting them corrected — or just explained — can test even the most persistent soldiers."
With Tuesday's bipartisan agreement to let senators vote on seven of President Obama's previously stalled nominations, the Senate proved that the art of compromise isn't dead in Washington, even if it might be severely wounded.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Later in the program we will speak with our money coach Alvin Hall about why you cannot take a break from watching your finances, no matter how hot it is. He'll have tips for a mid-year financial check-in. That's later in the program.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is preparing to push through contentious changes to filibuster rules, if Republicans do not agree to approve seven presidential nominations on Tuesday. Reid convened a closed meeting of all 100 senators Monday night to hash out the arguments ahead of the deadline.
Sen. Harry Reid may sound a tad hypocritical to some for saying he now supports changing Senate rules in order to end the one that says 60 senators must approve before presidential nominations can get up or down votes. This comes only several years after he indicated he opposed changing the requirement to a simple 51-vote majority.
George Zimmerman's defense team didn't invoke Florida's "stand your ground" defense in winning his acquittal of murder in last year's shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
But the specter of the 2005 law loomed, inescapably, over the proceedings.
It was inevitable that the racially fraught trial would again catapult Florida's law — which extends protections for the use of deadly force far beyond the traditional bounds of one's home — as well as those in 21-plus states with similar self-defense measures into the nation's consciousness.
Former President George H.W. Bush, who spent nearly two months in a Houston hospital during late 2012 and early 2013 for treatment of a variety of life-threatening illnesses, was hailed by President Obama at the White House on Monday.
President Obama applauds as former first lady Barbara Bush and former President George W. Bush help President George H.W. Bush stand at the opening ceremony of the George W. Bush Presidential Library on April 25 in Dallas. Former first lady Laura Bush looks on.
Former President George H.W. Bush will visit the White House on Monday, along with his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush, to celebrate a milestone for Points of Light, a volunteer service organization that got its start during the first Bush administration.
During President Obama's first term, he didn't see much of the Bushes. He met with the former presidents — father, son or both — a total of just five times in four years.
Now to New York State where there have been other election problems. Election officials there say it's taking too long to finalize race results using electronic machines. So they're going old school and bringing out those with mechanical levers. WNYC's Brigid Bergin has the story.
The Penndot Drivers License Center in Butler, Pa., displays signs promoting the requirement for voters to show an acceptable photo ID at the polls. On Monday, a judge will rule on the constitutionality of the state's controversial voter ID law.
Pennsylvania's voter ID law will be back in state court Monday after more than a year of legal limbo. A state judge will decide whether the 2012 law — which hasn't been enforced — violates the state's constitution.
The measure requires voters to show a particular state-issued photo ID before casting ballots. Last week, civil rights advocates like the NAACP's John Jordan railed against the requirement.
"It's a ploy to take votes away from people who deserve them — veterans, seniors, students, people with disabilities, people of color and hard-working folk," Jordan said.
Congress is setting up for a showdown this fall on the budget, the debt ceiling and possibly immigration.
But another item on the agenda hasn't been getting as much attention: changing tax policy. The chairmen of the two tax-writing committees have been working for years, holding hearings, releasing white papers, even hosting bipartisan tax chat lunches at a pub — often with little notice.
Dave Camp is a Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Max Baucus is a Montana Democrat and leads the Senate Finance Committee.
The House of Representatives on Thursday passed their version of the Farm Bill without the food stamp provision that's been a part of the bill for decades. Host Jacki Lyden speaks with James Fallows of The Atlantic about why the two have been linked in the first place.
Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland is a ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He's released documents that suggest that the IRS targeted progressives as well as Tea Party groups.
The House Oversight Committee will hold its latest hearing next week into how the IRS handled the applications of groups seeking tax exempt status. The hearings have morphed from a scandal over the targeting of Tea Party groups into something broader.
It all started when a report from IRS Inspector General J. Russell George said groups with Tea Party in their name were targeted for extra scrutiny for possible political activity. When asked if progressive groups were also targeted, he said no.