Politics

The Two-Way
4:43 am
Thu December 12, 2013

It's 'Not Great,' But Budget Deal Is Expected To Pass In The House

Jonathan Ernst Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 4:44 pm

The House is expected to vote Thursday on the bipartisan deal that would set spending levels for the next two years, replace many of the indiscriminate "sequester" budget cuts and, in theory at least, take off the table one of the most partisan of the many partisan issues that have contributed to the gridlock in Washington.

NPR's Tamara Keith tells our Newscast desk that passage is expected but not certain. She adds that:

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It's All Politics
5:25 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Mary Landrieu Wrestles An (Obamacare) Alligator

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is facing a tough re-election bid.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 6:37 am

In any conversation about vulnerable Senate Democrats, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana rises straight to the top of the list.

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The Two-Way
4:09 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Extended Unemployment Benefits On Track To Expire Dec. 28

A prospective job seeker gets information at a job resource fair for military veterans in Van Nuys, Calif., on Oct. 24.
Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 7:38 pm

Unless Congress acts very quickly, some 1.3 million workers will lose their extended jobless benefits on Dec. 28.

Democrats were scrambling late Wednesday to link an extension of benefits to a budget deal that is expected to get a vote as soon as Thursday. But if the effort fails, they will come back at it in 2014.

"We're going to push here after the first of the year for an extension of emergency unemployment insurance when the Senate convenes after the new year," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said on Wednesday.

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Politics
2:46 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

On Both Sides Of The Aisle, Little To Like In Budget Deal

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 4:26 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

After weeks of negotiations, there is a bipartisan plan to finance the government. The House is expected to vote on it tomorrow. The bill sets budget levels for two years. It also rolls back some of the across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester, and it would reduce the deficit by $23 billion over a decade. NPR's Tamara Keith is gauging enthusiasm for the deal.

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Politics
2:46 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Sebelius Faced More Grilling From House, Despite HealthCare.gov Fixes

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 4:26 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

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Politics
2:46 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

In The Year After Newtown Shooting, Most States Relaxed Gun Laws

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 4:26 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Since the Newtown shootings, the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns has spent upwards of $15 million on ads supporting tougher gun laws and on candidate ads around this issue. Most of that money comes from New York City Mayor Michael Blumberg. One year later, we're going to check in on what the results have been. Mark Glaze is the coalition's executive director and he joins me here in the studio. Welcome.

MARK GLAZE: Thanks for having me.

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It's All Politics
12:21 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

6 Things Missing From The Budget Agreement

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., left, and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., walk to announce a tentative agreement Tuesday between Republican and Democratic negotiators on a government spending plan.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 1:46 pm

The essence of the budget deal reached by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is better understood by looking at what's missing, rather than what's included in it.

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The Two-Way
10:58 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Sebelius Calls For Review Of HHS Practices That Led To Debacle

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. Earlier today, Sebelius announced an inquiry into the agency's launch of the problem-plagued HealthCare.gov site.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 5:14 pm

"The launch of HealthCare.gov was flawed and simply unacceptable."

Those are the words of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, published Wednesday just before she met with people who share those views: members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

With her agency under fire since the website's failed release last month, Sebelius announced an internal inquiry and other steps that will focus on improving the contracting process, project management and employee training.

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Law
9:46 am
Wed December 11, 2013

No Cake For You: Saying 'I Don't' To Same-Sex Marriage

A Colorado judge recently ordered Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to serve gay couples, after he refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.
Lindsay Pierce Denver Post via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 2:15 pm

There were a few snickers when a Colorado state judge ruled that a baker has to produce wedding cakes for gay couples even though he opposes same-sex marriage on religious grounds.

A cake? What's the big deal?

But the decision, handed down late last week, is just the latest slice in a debate that has gone front burner with gay marriage now legalized in 16 states, and counting.

Can individual businesspeople like Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver be compelled to provide wedding (or commitment ceremony) goods and services to gay couples?

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Politics
8:04 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Pensions Become Less Certain For Government Workers

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn smiles during the signing of the pension overhaul legislation bill on Dec. 5 in Chicago. Looking on from left are Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington; Senate GOP leader Sen. Christine Radogno; Rep. Darlene Senger, R-Naperville; Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs; House Speaker Michael Madigan and Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago.
M. Spencer Green AP

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 9:18 am

Federal workers have reason to be nervous. The budget agreement announced Tuesday — if it passes — would raise revenue by making employees contribute more toward their pensions.

It's part of a trend. Governments at all levels have been cutting back on pension benefits in recent years, in an attempt to fix funding problems caused by the recession and years of fiscal mismanagement.

In many cases, states and localities have made benefits less generous. But that has, for the most part, only affected newly hired workers.

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Politics
6:31 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Sen. Murray On Budget Deal: A 'Compromise' With 'Smarter Cuts'

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 8:10 am

Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan announced a bipartisan budget proposal Tuesday. For more details on the plan, Steve Inskeep speaks with Murray, who led her party in the negotiations.

The Two-Way
5:09 am
Wed December 11, 2013

'Something For Everyone To Dislike' In Budget Deal

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., crafted the budget deal.
T.J. Kirkpatrick Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 2:37 pm

  • On 'Morning Edition': NPR's Tamara Keith reports on the budget deal
  • On 'Morning Edition': Sen. Patty Murray speaks with Steve Inskeep

The reviews are coming in for the bipartisan budget deal crafted by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and as the Los Angeles Times says, the package seems to have "something for everyone to dislike."

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Politics
4:56 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Budget Proposal Is No 'Grand Bargain'

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 8:10 am

For years, there's been talk in Washington, D.C., about the "grand bargain" — a big deficit-reducing budget deal that rewrites the tax code and trims from the long-term costs of Medicare and Social Security. Tuesday night, Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Paul Ryan announced what can only be described as a small bargain. But if it's approved by the House and Senate, it would avoid another government shutdown in January.

Politics
4:56 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Kerry Urges Lawmakers To Hold Off On Iran Sanctions

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 8:10 am

Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on lawmakers not to impose further sanctions in Iran as negotiations on reining in Tehran's nuclear program continue. Iranian officials have said new sanctions would kill off any hope of a final deal between Iran and world powers.

World
4:56 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Does Obama-Castro Handshake Signify Shifting Relations?

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 8:10 am

Shortly before eulogizing Nelson Mandela in South Africa on Tuesday, President Obama shook hands with Cuban leader Raul Castro and set off much discussion about a possible shift in U.S.-Cuba relations. David Greene talks to Dan Restrepo, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and former adviser to Obama on Latin America.

Science
3:07 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Megatons To Megawatts: Russian Warheads Fuel U.S. Power Plants

A Soviet SS-21 tactical short-range nuclear missile is shown for the first time in Red Square, at the Victory Day parade in Moscow, Russia on May 9, 1985.
Associated Press

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 8:10 am

Here's a remarkable fact: For the past two decades, 10 percent of all the electricity consumed in the United States has come from Russian nuclear warheads.

It was all part of a deal struck at the end of the Cold War. That deal wraps up today, when the final shipment of fuel arrives at a U.S. facility.

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Politics
4:55 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

House, Senate Negotiators Announce Deal To Avert Another Shutdown

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 10:30 am

House and Senate negotiators said late Thursday that they reached a budget deal. The agreement would restore some of the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration, and includes some relatively small deficit reduction over the next two years. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., hammered out the deal, which they characterized as a step in the right direction that would avoid another government shutdown in mid-January if both the House and Senate approve the budget.

The Two-Way
4:45 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Bipartisan Negotiators Unveil Budget To Avoid January Shutdown

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., announce a proposed spending plan at the Capitol on Tuesday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 6:07 pm

Congressional negotiators announced Tuesday that they'd reached a budget proposal to restore about $65 billion worth of sequestration cuts in exchange for cuts elsewhere and additional fees.

If approved by both the House and Senate, the plan — hammered out by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington — would avoid another government shutdown on Jan. 15.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday evening, Ryan said the budget plan doesn't raise taxes and that it's a "step in the right direction."

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It's All Politics
4:39 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Is Economic Populism A Problem Or A Solution For Democrats?

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., at a November hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. A recent op-ed critical of Warren's brand of economic populism sparked an intraparty dispute among Democrats.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 6:09 pm

The fight over taxes, entitlements and income inequality has clearly been reignited in the Democratic Party, sparking questions about whether, and how hard, to push economic populism as the party approaches the 2014 midterm elections and beyond.

The latest flare-up came between centrist Democrats at the Third Way think tank and liberals who view Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., as their champion.

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The Two-Way
4:05 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Woman Pleads Guilty To Mailing Ricin To Obama, Bloomberg

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 5:36 pm

A former actress who sent ricin-laced letters to President Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has pleaded guilty in federal court in Texarkana, Texas, as part of a deal to limit her sentence to no more than 18 years.

Shannon Guess Richardson, a mother of six from Texas, had minor roles in The Walking Dead and The Blind Side. She mailed three ricin-laced letters from New Boston, Texas, near Texarkana, and then contacted police to say that her estranged husband had done it.

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Business
2:29 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Volcker Rule Sets Tough Standards, High Regulatory Expectations

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 10:30 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

For more on just how the Volcker rule will work and how it will be enforced, we're joined by Simon Johnson. He's professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and he's a member of the FDIC's systemic resolution advisory committee. Welcome to the program.

SIMON JOHNSON: Thanks for having me.

CORNISH: So let's talk more about proprietary trading. Give us some specific examples of this.

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Business
2:29 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Regulators Tighten Bank Rules To Curb Risky Wall Street Trades

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 10:30 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

Federal regulators today approved a tough new set of restrictions on the kinds of trading that banks can do. The so-called Volcker rule largely prohibits FDIC-protected banks from trading securities for their own financial gain. It's part of the Dodd-Frank overhaul passed three years ago.

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Politics
2:29 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

After Rules Change, Senate Democrats Pushes Forward With Nominees

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 10:30 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

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Politics
11:56 am
Tue December 10, 2013

How ALEC Serves As A 'Dating Service' For Politicians And Corporations

President Bush speaks to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Philadelphia, on July 26, 2007.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 10:07 am

A batch of internal documents recently leaked to The Guardian has revealed new insights into the goals and finances of the secretive group called ALEC. The American Legislative Exchange Council is a group that brings together state legislators and representatives of corporations. Together, they develop model bills that lawmakers introduce and try to pass in their state legislatures.

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It's All Politics
10:54 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Conservative Firebrand Challenges Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn

Texas Rep. Steve Stockman participates in a mock swearing-in ceremony with House Speaker John Boehner in January. Stockman made the surprise move to challenge Sen. John Cornyn in the 2014 Texas GOP primary.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 2:42 pm

Another day, another GOP primary fight.

This time, it's John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, who's receiving a challenge from the right in 2014. Rep. Steve Stockman, a conservative firebrand, made the surprise move to enter the March 4 race Monday evening just before the state's filing deadline.

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The Two-Way
5:07 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Congress Renews Ban On X-Ray-Evading Plastic Guns

Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Bill Nelson of Florida talk to reporters about their effort to renew the ban on plastic firearms, at the Capitol on Monday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 5:56 pm

Congress voted to renew a ban on plastic firearms that can skirt airport detectors, but Republican lawmakers blocked efforts to tighten the restrictions.

The Senate approved the measure by a voice vote hours before it would have expired at midnight. The House voted last week to renew the ban.

As The Associated Press reports:

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It's All Politics
4:45 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Ethics Panel Hands Down Holiday Gift Rules — In Rhyme

The U.S. Capitol Christmas tree is lit against the early morning sky on Dec. 4.
J. David Ake AP

Time was when business-suited Santas would spend December roaming the corridors of Congress, bestowing all sorts of goodies upon their elected friends, prospective friends and staffers: baskets of food, bottles of booze, even high-priced tickets to sports events.

That last item is the kind of thing that sent uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff to prison. It also brought the House of Representatives a new set of ethics rules — stern and often complex limits on accepting gifts.

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It's All Politics
3:42 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Senate GOP Could Taste Sweet Revenge In Supreme Court Case

Miguel Estrada, whose 2002 nomination to a federal judgeship was filibustered by Senate Democrats, will represent Senate Republicans in their recess appointments case against President Obama.
Kiichiro Sato AP

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 4:09 pm

If revenge is a dish best served cold, in Washington it can also be served with a heaping side of irony.

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to Sen. Mitch McConnell's request to let Senate Republicans participate in the high-profile case Noel Canning v. National Labor Relations Board.

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The Two-Way
3:39 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Government Sells Last Shares In GM, Loses $10 Billion

General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson speaks to the media after a June 2013 GM shareholders meeting in Detroit. General Motors posted $152 billion in global revenues in 2012.
Bill Pugliano Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 3:59 pm

Critics of the federal auto bailout will no longer be able to refer derisively to GM as "Government Motors" — on Monday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced the U.S. government has sold its remaining shares in the carmaker.

"With the final sale of GM stock, this important chapter in our nation's history is now closed," Lew said, announcing the sale.

The net? Taxpayers lost $10.7 billion on the deal.

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Politics
2:34 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Congress Tries To Craft Budget Deal Before Holiday Break

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 8:45 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

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