This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel. We begin with a day at the United Nations, as world leaders gathered in New York. President Obama gave his annual speech to the General Assembly. He spent about 40 minutes giving a detailed defense of America's role in the world. As NPR's Ari Shapiro reports, the president insisted that the U.S. will remain a key player in international events, despite criticism at home and overseas.
Could Texans soon be represented in the U.S. Senate by the Cruz family?
It's an entertaining though wildly improbable scenario that's been generating some chatter at the GOP grass-roots level. But the notion of Tea Party hero Sen. Ted Cruz serving with his father, Rafael Cruz — a Tea Party star in his own right after a series of anti-Obama speeches at town halls hosted by Heritage Action — just got a wee bit less outlandish.
Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 1:09 pm
While conceding that nations will disagree about when and how to step in as "tyrants ... commit wanton murder," President Obama told the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday that "we must get better" at preventing atrocities.
The president again laid out his case for strong international action to hold Syrian President Bashar Assad accountable for his regime's alleged use of chemical weapons. Then Obama told world leaders that:
Originally published on Tue September 24, 2013 2:06 pm
A brief and abstract chronicle of some of Tuesday's more interesting political stories, the kinds of stories that might get people who like politics talking around a water cooler, if people still did that sort of thing.
All right. Let's talk more about that debate in Congress, which must pass a bill by Sept. 30 to keep the government running or see a partial shutdown. Republicans in the House passed a bill to fund the government but defund Obamacare; and now that bill is in the Senate, where Richard Durbin of Illinois is the Senate majority whip, the No. 2 Democrat in charge of counting votes. Senator, welcome back to the program.
Originally published on Tue September 24, 2013 9:36 am
Just a week before the federal government could shut down if no agreement is reached to fund it past the end of September, it's anyone's guess whether Democrats and Republicans will avoid plunging over this particular cliff.
More certain, however, is that if a shutdown happens over Obamacare and Republicans wind up taking the heat, many GOP fingers of blame will point squarely at Sen. Ted Cruz.
The Texas Republican will likely become the face of the 2013 shutdown, just as Newt Gingrich became the poster boy of two government shutdowns of the mid-1990s.
Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 4:43 pm
In seven days, the federal government runs out of money.
While the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a resolution Friday that keeps the government funded through Dec. 15, the measure also defunded President Obama's signature health care law — which means it has virtually no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate.
If a budget resolution doesn't hit President Obama's desk before Oct. 1, that's a big problem: The government will be forced to close its doors.
Lois Lerner, the head of the IRS division that handles applications for tax-exempt status, listens to opening statements during a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee before refusing to testify on May 22.
Originally published on Tue September 24, 2013 9:26 am
Secretary of State John Kerry plans to meet his Iranian counterpart this week for the highest-level face-to-face between Washington and Tehran in six years.
The meeting with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and representatives of five other world powers — Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — would come as newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visits the United Nations in New York. The talks would center on Iran's nuclear program.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Later, we'll hear one side of the debate over tech in the classroom. We'll hear from the former chancellor of New York City schools about why he's become a big believer and investor in bringing tablet computers to the classroom. That's ahead.
Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 5:11 pm
We're kicking off a new morning routine in which we'll get the day started on NPR's It's All Politics" blog by sharing a handful of political stories that caught our interest or that we'll be watching.
President Obama spoke at a memorial service Sunday for the victims of last week's shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. The president and first lady also met with families of the dead. Twelve people were killed in addition to the gunman, who died in a shootout with police.
As if the battle over the budget as well as the looming fight over the debt ceiling were not enough, there's a Farm Bill. Congress extended the Farm Bill after the fiscal cliff deal in January, but that extension expires at the end of the month. Congress is bitterly divided on food stamps and other issues. But both parties agree on something: The $5 billion-a-year farm subsidy called direct and countercyclical payments must go.
Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, accompanied by her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, speaks during a news conference in Manchester, N.H., in July. They were there to encourage state political leaders to have courage in the fight to expand background checks on gun purchases.
Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 2:02 am
Former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was honored over the weekend for her service to the public by Scripps College. Giffords' alma mater awarded her the school's highest level of recognition: the Ellen Browning Scripps Medal.
For Democrats running in coal-producing states like Kentucky and West Virginia, the Environmental Protection Agency's new limits on greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants provide a carboniferous chance to demonstrate independence from President Obama.
Those Democrats will probably take advantage of every chance they get to separate themselves from the president in voters' minds, since their Republican opponents will be working overtime to portray them as reliable Obama votes if they're elected to Congress.
President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrive at last year's congressional picnic on the South Lawn of the White House. This year, the picnic — seen as a chance for lawmakers to socialize beyond party lines — was canceled.
President Obama isn't known as a schmoozer like Bill Clinton or a back-slapper like George W. Bush. But he does know that a personal touch can woo allies and soften adversaries.
Right now, domestic and international crises are looming on all sides of the president. Although a little tenderness might come in handy, Obama is repeatedly passing up opportunities to wage a charm offensive.
It's been a little more than a year since four Americans died during attacks on U.S. installations in Benghazi, Libya. Many congressional hearings have delved into the matter almost always at the behest of Republicans. But this week it was Democrats, and the House Government and Oversight Committee who demanded the latest session on Benghazi. It featured the two lead investigators of an independent report on that episode testifying for the first time in public about their conclusions.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks at a Republican rally Friday after the House passed a measure that would temporarily fund the government while crippling President Obama's health care law. The Senate is not expected to follow suit.
The House has passed a stopgap spending bill that would keep the government open through Dec. 15. It passed almost entirely along party lines: In addition to funding the government, it calls for defunding of the Affordable Care Act.
The White House has said President Obama would veto the bill, were it to come to his desk in this form. And it most likely won't. Democrats, who control the Senate, won't pass a bill that defunds Obamacare.
President Obama has had a tough year. He failed to pass gun legislation. Plans for an immigration overhaul have stalled in the House. He barely escaped what would have been a humiliating rejection by Congress on his plan to strike Syria.
Just this week, his own Democrats forced Larry Summers, the president's first choice to head the Federal Reserve, to withdraw.
Former Clinton White House aide Bill Galston says all these issues have weakened the unity of the president's coalition.
Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 5:38 pm
For those old enough to remember, the government shutdown skirmishing now underway in Washington brings back some not-so-fond memories of late 1995 and early 1996.
That's the last time a divided government, unable to settle its differences before the money from previous years' spending bills ran out, forced dozens of agencies to close. Some 800,000 federal workers were told to stay home and millions of Americans were shut out of everything from their national parks to small-business loans.
At the insistence of Tea Party senators, the Republican-led House passed a government-funding plan that also defunds the Affordable Care Act. Now it heads to the Senate, where Democrats will likely take out health care language and send it right back.
Audie Cornish speaks with our regular political commentators E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and Brookings Institution, and David Brooks of The New York Times. They discuss the House vote to defund the Affordable Care Act.
Audie Cornish speaks with Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state about the House's continuing resolution vote, and the Republican strategy behind it. McMorris Rodgers is chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.
Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 1:34 pm
The Republican-controlled House's vote to cut $40 billion from the food stamp program is just the latest example of how the GOP balance of power has shifted rightward over the past decade.
President George W. Bush isn't fondly remembered by progressives for much. But anti-hunger advocates credited him during his administration for strongly supporting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (the formal name for food stamps) and other policies to help unemployed or low-income workers and their children escape the fear of not knowing where their next meals would come from.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, you've heard about the Tennessee woman who sent her adoptive son back to Russia because she decided she couldn't cope. We'll hear from an investigative reporter who says this actually happens more often than you might think because the Internet makes it easy. She's going to explain more about that in just a few minutes.
First, though, we're going to look at some of the latest political headlines.