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.
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.
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.
For the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, nothing seems to come easy.
The agency runs at a fraction of the size of its much larger law enforcement counterparts. Under pressure from gun rights groups, it operated without a Senate-confirmed leader for seven years. And its new leader, B. Todd Jones, only narrowly averted a congressional roadblock to win confirmation this summer after serving more than two years as an interim leader.
Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 2:48 pm
The political class was aflame Thursday with outrage (Republicans) and triumph (Democrats) as Senate Democrats voted to hem in the minority party's ability to filibuster most presidential nominees.
By a 52-48 vote, the Democratic-controlled Senate carried out the so-called nuclear option. The leadership will now allow a simple majority of senators to override filibusters on nominations, with the exception of those to the Supreme Court.
Previous precedent, in place since the 1970s, required a 60-vote "supermajority" to end a filibuster.
Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 12:09 pm
(We added to the top of this post at 2:08 p.m. ET.)
There was high drama Thursday on the floor of the Senate as Democrats significantly changed the way business in the chamber is done.
In what Republicans cast as a "power grab" but Democrats defended as a way to break gridlock, the Senate's rules were changed to make it much more difficult for a minority of the members to hold up action on key presidential nominees.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. Coming up, journalist Paul Salopek started walking a while ago. He'll keep walking for seven years. He's following the development of mankind from Ethiopia all the way to the bottom of South America. And we'll talk about how students in cities across the U.S. are falling in his footsteps. That's in a few minutes.
Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 9:55 am
By a 14-8 vote that saw three Republicans join 11 Democrats in saying "aye," the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday morning approved the nomination of Janet Yellen to be the next head of the Federal Reserve.
The fourth episode of the web-only series Alpha House goes live on Amazon Prime on Friday. The political comedy stars John Goodman and was created and written by Garry Trudeau of "Doonesbury" fame. It's about four Republican senators living in a house and is loosely based on a real Capitol Hill living arrangement.
On the evening of Nov. 21, 1963, President John F. Kennedy, his wife Jacqueline, Vice President Lyndon Johnson and his wife, Lady Bird, walked through a wall of applause to take their place as honored guests in a Houston ballroom. They were making a brief stop at a formal dinner held by LULAC — the League of United Latin American Citizens — to show their appreciation for the Mexican-American votes that had helped the young president carry Texas in the 1960 election.
President Obama met with state insurance commissioners to discuss changes to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Some commissioners are in a difficult spot because their states passed laws that prohibit policies that don't comply with the law. Now, the president says companies can keep offering non-compliant policies for another year if they want to.
As federal tech launches go, it's not just HealthCare.gov that didn't take off. A report from IT research firm the Standish Group finds that 94 percent of federal IT projects come in late, over budget or get scrapped completely.
President Obama focused on the issue of procuring technology for the federal government in a recent interview.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Fifty years ago this week, President John F. Kennedy was murdered in Dallas. It was one of those moments in history where, if you were old enough, you'd remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when you found out. If you've been paying attention to the media at all this week, then you've no doubt run across one or another retrospective.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, it's been nearly 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was murdered in Dallas. Many people still remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news. We asked Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights icon, for his memories of the day. And we'll also look at the bigger picture of John F. Kennedy's role in The Civil Rights Movement. That's coming up.
Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 11:45 am
If Americans know Education Secretary Arne Duncan for anything at this point, it would be as that guy who claimed last week that opposition to the Common Core national K-12 educational standards sprang from "white suburban moms" who feared that tougher requirements would reveal their children to be as not "brilliant" as they thought.
Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 8:37 am
Making a relatively rare appearance on national TV, former President George W. Bush told Tonight Show host Jay Leno on Tuesday's show that "I relied upon my faith, my family helped a lot and I had a good team around me" while in the White House.
The Obama administration is asking for people who've been turned off by the government's problem-plagued insurance website to come back. Officials say the website is working better now, though it's still far from fixed.
In his new book released this week, Unintimidated: A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker reflects on the political firestorm he survived at home in 2012 — and diagnoses what went wrong for the national party.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan is in some hot water over remarks he made last week suggesting that opposition to Common Core of Standards was coming from "white suburban moms." He has since pulled back from those remarks.