The 113th Congress convened last week, and introduced a batch of fresh faces to Washington. Host Rachel Martin speaks with two freshmen members of the House of Representatives, Democrat Ami Bera of California and Republican Rodney Davis of Illinois, about the incoming Congress and what they hope to accomplish.
President Obama pauses as he speaks about the fiscal cliff on Monday. Some progressives say the president was not aggressive enough with Republicans during budget talks and are hoping he is stronger in his second term.
When Barack Obama first took office four years ago, many progressives were on cloud nine. Here was a president pledging to tackle some of the issues closest to the progressive base: climate change, gun control and what he called our "broken immigration system."
That was in 2008. Fast forward to now and these are just a few of the unresolved issues leaving progressives unsatisfied.
With Obama's second term around the corner, some progressives are wondering if President Obama will reboot and follow through with his earlier promises.
JACKI LYDEN HOST: When Congress reconvened on January 3rd, it did so with 84 newly elected members. We've been profiling a few of the newcomers over the past week. Today, we'll learn a bit more about the latest Republican to join Kentucky delegation Andy Barr. Here's Kentucky Public Radio's Kenny Colston.
KENNY COLSTON, BYLINE: The halls of Henry Clay High School in Lexington aren't that much different than the halls of power its namesake served in: loud and busy. But this place brings back memories for Congressman-elect Andy Barr.
The 113th Congress is setting a new record, with 101 women this time around. Now there's lots of speculation about what difference — if any — a sizable group of women might make to our national legislature.
Linda Wertheimer speaks with freshman Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire about the challenges facing the 113th Congress. Shaheen is a former governor of New Hampshire and a part of the state's new all-female delegation to Congress.
President Obama will be publicly sworn in for a second term on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a notable confluence of events. Historian Taylor Branch joins guest host Linda Wertheimer to talk about race and democracy, past and present. Branch's new book is The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement.
Vice President Joe Biden leads the first meeting of the working group to explore solutions following the Newtown shooting with Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and other law enforcement leaders on Dec. 20.
Credit Drew Angerer / Getty Images
Vice President Joe Biden arrives for a closed-door meeting with Senate Democrats to urge them to support a fiscal cliff deal on Monday.
This week saw both a frantic finale to the much-unloved 112th Congress and, hours later, the swearing in of the new 113th. The cast of lawmakers and their leaders is mostly unchanged. The same can be said for Capitol Hill's never-ending drama over taxes, deficits and spending.
What was arguably this week's most sensational congressional moment did not even take place in Washington. On Wednesday in Trenton, N.J., Republican Gov. Chris Christie blasted the GOP-led House for closing down the last Congress without even considering a Superstorm Sandy disaster relief bill.
President Obama leaves the Oval Office early Wednesday after the House passed legislation to retain tax breaks for most Americans, let tax rates rise for the wealthiest, and delay action on mandatory spending cuts.
Originally published on Wed January 9, 2013 8:14 am
Fiscal cliff week has mercifully ended with a deal done, hurricane relief approved, President Obama vacationing, and both parties bickering internally over what was won — and lost — in the early hours of the new year.
What we have found most intriguing is the vigorous post-facto wrestling within the liberal community over what the fiscal cliff negotiations say about President Obama.
President Obama may be going into the next big budget fight without his long-time treasury secretary. Timothy Geithner had been planning to leave before the start of the president's second term, but that would mean he is departing with the debt ceiling still looming and the Treasury scrambling to keep up with the government's bills.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
NPR's Scott Horsley joins us now. And, Scott, Secretary Geithner has made no secret of his plans to leave the government, but it sounds like his departure could be complicated.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. New York and New Jersey and getting some much needed federal disaster relief, but at least for now, it's far less than the state's leaders have requested. Today, Congress approved nearly $10 billion to replenish the National Flood Insurance program. The move comes after a major blowup earlier this week when House leaders failed to act on a larger aid package. NPR's Tamara Keith has our story.
Update at 1:30 p.m. ET: The counting is done and as expected, President Obama and Vice President Biden collected all 332 Electoral College votes they earned on Election Day. Their Republican opponents, Mitt Romney and running mate Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, received 206 votes each.
Since it takes 270 Electoral College votes to be elected, the president and vice president have indeed been returned to office.
The Barbershop guys talk about which political party seems more bruised now that the battle over taxes has ended. They also guess who will be going down in the NFL playoffs this weekend. Guest host Celeste Headlee checks in with culture critic Jimi Izrael; sports writer Pablo Torre, NPR's Ken Rudin and former chair of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele.
So what's the verdict on John Boehner? He had a bad week – pushed to the sidelines during the fiscal cliff deal, criticized by his colleagues over aid to Hurricane Sandy victims – but he was also re-elected House Speaker, with no direct challenge from a GOP rival. Also, big news in the two upcoming special Senate elections: The governor of Hawaii names a surprise pick to succeed the late Sen. Inouye, and Democrats rally around one candidate in the race to succeed John Kerry of Massachusetts. Even NPR's Ken Rudin and Ron Elving are stunned.
Among the more than 80 House freshmen who were sworn in this week, there were several who had been there before — including Florida Democrat Alan Grayson.
After starting his first term four years ago, Grayson quickly made a name for himself with biting comments targeting Republicans — like when he said during the health care debate: "If you get sick, America, the Republican health care plan is this: Die quickly."
His national stature didn't prevent him from being defeated in 2010. But now Grayson is back.
If plans go ahead, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will be the workhorse of the Air Force, Navy and Marines for decades to come. The F-35 boasts a sleek profile that makes it nearly invisible to radar, and it's scheduled to replace as many as 10 planes that are currently in service, including the venerable F-16. Lieutenant Colonel Todd LaFortune is among the first to make the transition.
Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 12:29 pm
Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, who has come under criticism from some conservative members of his Republican caucus for — in their opinions — conceding too much in negotiations with the White House, was reelected Thursday as speaker of the House.
The speaker, known for showing his emotions, later choked up several times during a mid-afternoon address to the House. He challenged members to "do the right thing" and come to their jobs "humbled."
Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., holding a cane. He was helped up the steps of the Capitol by Vice President Biden (behind Kirk) and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., (in red tie). Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., is at right.
Before lawmakers get back to the business of arguing about taxes, deficits and other issues as they open a new session of Congress today, there was just a nice moment outside the Capitol.
Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who suffered a stroke last Jan. 21, came to the Capitol for the first time since then. And as C-SPAN cameras watched, he made a very public return — slowly walking up the steps of the Capitol with assistance from Vice President Biden and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va.