President Obama's nominee to lead the Labor Department has been one of the most aggressive advocates for civil rights in decades. Tom Perez prosecuted a record number of hate crimes cases and extracted huge settlements from banks that overcharged minorities for home loans.
But some Republican lawmakers say those same qualities give them pause about voting to confirm Perez as a Cabinet member.
Originally published on Sun April 14, 2013 11:06 am
Inmates fought guards at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after military authorities decided to end communal housing in one of the prison's camps, and instead put prisoners in individual cells. At least one detainee was reportedly injured by a rubber bullet in the clash Saturday.
The violence began after the facility's commander ordered the move Saturday morning. According to the U.S. Southern Command, the decision was made after detainees covered windows and surveillance cameras, limiting guards' ability to monitor them at all times.
The gun control debate continued to dominate the news this week with President Obama coming out strongly in support of reforming the current gun control laws alongside the Newtown families. Host Jacki Lyden speaks with James Fallows, national correspondent with The Atlantic, about that story along with the bird flu in China, North Korea and the Postal Service.
Originally published on Sat April 13, 2013 1:16 pm
In a rare departure from tradition, Saturday's weekly presidential address was delivered not by President Obama but instead by Francine Wheeler, whose son Ben, 6, died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings last December.
Flanked by her husband, David, Wheeler called for Americans to urge the Senate to pass gun control legislation that it is scheduled to begin debating in the coming week.
President Obama's newly released tax return shows his effective income tax rate was 18.4 percent last year. He'll likely pay a somewhat higher rate in 2013, and that tax bill would be even bigger if Congress were to adopt the recommendations in the president's own budget, unveiled this week.
A new immigration bill is expected to be introduced in the U.S. Senate next week, calling for better border security and a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants in the United States without legal status.
One big hurdle toward that was cleared this week when the United Farm Workers reached a deal with growers that would address wages and caps the number of visas allowed for new workers.
Originally published on Sat April 13, 2013 5:19 am
So who exactly comprises Progress Kentucky, the superPAC linked to the surreptitious recording of a meeting at Sen. Mitch McConnell's campaign headquarters? In the recording, an aide is heard disparaging actress Ashley Judd, who was then considering a Senate run to challenge the Senate's top Republican.
Nearly 500,000 people have petitioned the Securities and Exchange Commission to make publicly-traded corporations disclose their political spending. The question is: How much clout do 500,000 people actually have?
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced the launch of FWD.us, an organization promoting immigration and eduction reform. But it's not the first issue he's taken up. In the past, he's donated money to superPACS, politicians and education.
Mark Zuckerberg and other tech leaders in Silicon Valley are banding together to push for comprehensive immigration reform, the Facebook co-founder announced this week. But Zuckerberg has dabbled in politically charged matters in the past.
Originally published on Fri April 12, 2013 11:03 am
Zack Kopplin has been fighting to have the "Louisiana Science Education Act" overturned since it was first passed in 2008, and he was in high school. Critics of the SLEA say it's used to introduce creationism and other non-scientific theories into public school science class. Kopplin, now at Rice University discusses his continuing campaign against the act.
It may be temporary, but it was a week of promise. There's been movement on guns and immigration. Obama hopes to work out a deal on the budget. And Rand Paul reaches out at Howard University. But a return of Anthony Weiner? It could only happen in a post-Annette Funicello America. NPR's Mara Liasson joins Ken Rudin for this week's podcast.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Steve Inskeep is reporting for us this week from Caracas, Venezuela. I'm David Greene, in Washington, Where the Senate is now officially moving towards debate on gun control legislation. To get there, Democratic leaders had to defeat a Republican filibuster yesterday, and they did so with the help of 16 Republicans. The procedural vote was a victory for gun control supporters, but as NPR's Ailsa Chang reports, more battles lie ahead.
Congress took a major step toward its first gun bill in nearly two decades on Thursday morning, as Democratic leaders broke a Republican filibuster to stop a proposal expanding criminal background checks for gun buyers. Sixteen Republican joined all but two Democrats to move forward with the bill. Ailsa Chang joins Audie Cornish from the Capitol to explain what it means, and what happens next.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus speaks at the National Press Club in March. Priebus has irritated faith-based values voters and others in the GOP with his quest to retool the party following the losses of 2012.
Originally published on Thu April 11, 2013 4:26 pm
It's comeback season for public figures who have been disgraced by their own sex lives.
Former South Carolina Republican Gov. Mark Sanford, who received national attention after leaving the country to pursue an extramarital affair five years ago, is favored to win a May 7 special House election. He won Speaker John Boehner's endorsement this week.
Originally published on Thu April 11, 2013 2:09 pm
The president's $3.77 trillion fiscal 2014 budget plan is expansive. But the part getting the most attention is his proposal to change the way the government calculates inflation using a measure known in economics-speak as chained CPI.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan tells NPR that he's "cautiously optimistic" that a budget deal can be reached with the White House.
Speaking to NPR a day after President Obama unveiled a 2014 budget proposal that includes cuts to Social Security and Medicare, as well as tax increases and new investments in education and infrastructure, Ryan said he was encouraged by the broad outlines from the White House.
Senator Rand Paul is reaching out to African-American voters. He recently visited Howard University, one of the country's most prominent historically black universities. Senator Paul talks to host Michel Martin about why he's reaching out, and what his message is for minorities.
Supporters in the Senate on Thursday morning rounded up more than the 60 votes necessary to clear a procedural hurdle that could have held up consideration of the Democratic-crafted package. The vote was 68-31 in favor of blocking a bid by some Republicans to filibuster the legislation.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (center), flanked by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner (left) and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, speaks during a budget briefing in Washington on Wednesday.
The federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. is second only to the United States Supreme Court in terms of the important cases it decides. But the court, known as the D.C. Circuit, has been limping along with four vacancies. President Obama's first nominee recently withdrew after two Senate filibusters blocked her path. The White House is hoping its other nominee will have an easier ride.
In recent elections the Republican Party has struggled to find much support among African-American voters. That though did not dissuade Kentucky's Republican Senator Rand Paul from making a pitch yesterday at Howard University, the historically black college in the nation's capital.
NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson was listening.
MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Rand Paul spoke carefully from a teleprompter and posed this question to his audience of young African-American students.
On Capitol Hill, the Senate is set to open debate this morning on the first major gun control legislation to reach Congress in two decades. Some Republicans, though, say they have a pretty good reason to hold up that debate. NPR's Ailsa Chang explains.
AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: Senator Mike Lee of Utah is one of the Republicans who say they're filibustering, and here's his rational: He's not actually trying to block debate. He's just trying to buy more time to consider the proposals.
Drivers travel on Interstate 495, the Capital Beltway, near Tysons Corner in Fairfax County, Va., in November, just days before the opening of four new express lanes. Virginia is among 19 states that have approved or are considering legislation to increase transportation funding, according to Transportation for America.
Credit Steve Helber / AP
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell speaks to the media at the state Capitol in Richmond in February.
It's no secret that many of the nation's roads are in pretty bad shape. In the latest report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the condition of America's highways rated a grade of D.
Congestion is a big problem, and so is upkeep. Most states rely on gas taxes to raise the money for repairs and new construction, but that funding source is not the stream it used to be, says James Corless of Transportation for America.