This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
And I'm Linda Wertheimer.
Today on Capitol Hill, Congress turns its attention to two federal institutions that have been losing the confidence of the American people. In a minute, we'll hear about an effort in the Senate to crackdown on sexual abuse in the U.S. military.
President Obama will nominate three new judges this morning to the powerful Federal Appeals Court in Washington D.C. The announcement is expected to come in the White House Rose Garden, and as NPR's Scott Horsley reports, there could be a few thorns.
Within the U.S. military now, it seems hardly a day goes by without some new accusation of sexual assault. The problem has the attention of top officers, even the Secretary of Defense. Still, lawmakers say the Pentagon is not doing enough to stem a growing number of sex crimes. A Senate committee is holding a hearing today on what Congress can do about sexual assault in the military.
Anyone searching for the place where the friction between the Obama White House and congressional Republicans is throwing off the most angry sparks need look no further than the clashes between the administration and Rep. Darrell Issa.
The traditionally collegial U.S. Senate was never a natural fit for Frank Lautenberg, the wealthy New Jersey businessman whose headstrong, CEO style could rankle.
But the five-term senator, who died early Monday at age 89, managed to serve as a passionate and able advocate for a tight collection of causes, from gun control and public health to Israel and mass transit.
It's been three months since the start of across-the-board, federal spending cuts. Renee Montagne talks to David Wessel, economics editor at The Wall Street Journal, about how badly the sequestration is cutting into the economy.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, accompanied by Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., speaks during a news conference with Tea Party leaders on May 16. Bachmann, chairwoman of the Tea Party Caucus, announced this week she won't seek re-election. Meanwhile, Cruz's fortunes continue to soar.
Credit Molly Riley / AP
Advocates of overhauling the nation's immigration laws demonstrate outside a fundraising event featuring Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at the Grand Hyatt hotel in New York on Wednesday.
On the same day this week that House Tea Party Caucus co-founder Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., announced she won't seek re-election, the fortunes of another Tea Party favorite continued to soar.
Freshman GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas headlined a big fundraiser thrown by the New York Republican Party in the heart of Manhattan. More than 600 Republicans gathered to write checks to their struggling party, which has no statewide officeholders.
But it was not exactly a welcoming committee that awaited Cruz outside the Grand Hyatt hotel.
Next week, President Obama will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at an estate in California. Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon speaks with Ken Lieberthal of the Brookings Institution about what issues the two world leaders are likely to discuss.
It has been a good week for economic news. Here's a quick rundown of the positive signs: Home prices showed their best gains in seven years. Consumer confidence hit a five-year high. The stock market set a new record. All just this week.
"We're seeing progress," President Obama said in the White House Rose Garden on Friday morning, "and the economy is starting to pick up steam. The gears are starting to turn again, and we're getting some traction."
You could tell from the tone of his voice that he was leading up to a "but."
President Obama says he wants Congress to keep student loan rates from doubling July 1st. If lawmakers don't act, those rates will jump from 3.4 to 6.8 percent. NPR's Ari Shapiro reports the president held a White House event this morning to increase the pressure.
ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: It was a steamy morning in the White House Rose Garden when President Obama stepped out in front of a group of college students and graduates. The president said it's inspiring to spend time with young people.
Mitt Romney may have lost the biggest prize in American politics last year, but that doesn't mean he's left the game for good.
While there's no evidence to suggest he's interested in a third consecutive run for the White House, the man who topped the 2012 Republican national ticket is signaling his intent to play a role in the 2014 midterm election.
Americans do love their bacon, but is that romance a national security issue?
This week, China's biggest pork producer announced plans to buy Virginia-based Smithfield Foods Inc. Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa wants a national security review by an interagency panel known as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., or CFIUS.
I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. Later in the program, we will meet with actress and producer Rita Wilson. She says passing the big 5-0 has liberated her from her creative rut and is editor-at-large of the Huff/Post50 website. She's now launching a new literary section and inviting other 50-somethings to get those creative juices flowing. She'll tell you more about that in just a few minutes.
NPR's Ken Rudin and Ron Elving offer a tearful goodbye to Michele Bachmann, a premature but constitutional welcome to James Comey to head the FBI and some Boardwalk Fries to President Obama and Gov. Christie. But they're not sure about Eric Holder's longevity as attorney general.
Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
When Congress voted on federal relief for the victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey earlier this year, five of the seven Oklahoma representatives and senators voted no. Rep. Tom Cole, one of the two who voted yes, warned that someday Oklahoma would be asking for help — and that day came last week after a massive tornado.
The storm ripped through the city of Moore, in Cole's home district, killing 24 people and destroying thousands of homes.
President Obama, with Education Secretary Arne Duncan at his side, calls on Congress on June 21, 2012, to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling. He is going to make that appeal again Friday.
President Obama surrounded himself with college students at the White House on Friday and warned that the cost of student loans is about to go up.
Interest rates on government-backed college loans are set to double July 1 — unless Congress agrees on a fix before then. Obama has threatened to veto a House-passed bill that would let the cost of student loans go up and down with the market.
In this photo provided by Mouaz Moustafa and the Syrian Emergency Task Force, Sen. John McCain, accompanied by Moustafa (right) visits rebels in Syria on Monday. McCain, who slipped into the country for a surprise visit, favors providing arms to rebel forces in Syria.
There are risks aplenty for a U.S. lawmaker who makes a surprise visit to a war zone, as Sen. John McCain recently did when he crossed the border from Turkey into Syria.
The perils to life and limb go without saying. But there are also other risks: trying to tell the good guys from the bad guys; or being victimized by disinformation from unfriendly Middle Eastern interests.
While McCain got out unscathed from Syria, where he visited rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces, he may have had less success navigating the other risks.