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.
A new Congress takes office today, after a nail-biting end to the last term. There were reports of choice words from House Speaker John Boehner to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but Congress came together on a budget agreement. Guest host Celeste Headlee asks how congressional deals are made, and what to expect from the freshman class.
By letting the House take up the Senate's fiscal cliff-dodging legislation that raises income tax rates on the wealthiest earners, Speaker John Boehner answered affirmatively a question that had been on many minds: Would he allow an up-or-down floor vote on a bill opposed by most fellow House Republicans?
Until the New Year's Day vote, Boehner had generally operated the House under what was known as the Hastert Rule. Named for former Speaker Dennis Hastert, it required a "majority of the majority" to support legislation before the speaker approved a floor vote.
Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 5:22 am
The "fiscal cliff" deal leaves in place tax subsidies for the wind power industry for at least one more year. Windmills have dramatically changed the picture of the Midwest. Wind has also changed the landscape economically and politically.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.
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And I'm David Greene.
Farmers and ranchers across this country expected to start the year with a new farm bill in place. This is an important piece of legislation to many people. It sets agricultural policy for the next five years.
A 32-year-old Bay Area prosecutor will be sworn in to Congress on Thursday after ousting a 40-year incumbent.
California Democrat Eric Swalwell — who will be the second-youngest member of Congress — capitalized on his opponent's gaffes and used old-fashioned door-knocking and high-tech mobile phone outreach to win votes.
His first challenge in Washington might be getting people to pronounce his name correctly. Even senior members of California's congressional delegation have gotten it wrong, saying "Stallwell" instead of "Swalwell."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was discharged from a New York hospital today, after being treated for a blood clot. In December, Clinton and former President Bill Clinton attended a dinner for Kennedy honorees at the Department of State.
Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 4:40 am
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been discharged from New York Presbyterian Hospital, where she was admitted Sunday for treatment of a blood clot that followed a concussion she suffered after fainting. Clinton has reportedly been taking blood thinning agents to help the clot dissolve.
"She's eager to get back to the office," according to a statement from Philippe Reines, deputy assistant Secretary of State, announcing Clinton's discharge.
That squabble over aid related to Hurricane Sandy comes at a critical time for House Speaker John Boehner. Tomorrow, Congress is sworn in on Capitol Hill. And in the House, majority Republicans will decide if Boehner keeps his post.
President Barack Obama steps off Air Force One at Hickam Air Force Base near Honolulu, Hawaii, Wednesday. Obama returned to Hawaii to continue his vacation — prompting questions about how he will sign the fiscal cliff bill.
Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 5:43 am
Update at 7:35 a.m ET, Jan. 3. Signed By Autopen:
As many had expected he would, the president did sign the fiscal cliff agreement with an autopen. The bill was back in Washington, D.C., while Obama was in Hawaii on vacation. So, it was signed by an autopen machine that produces a copy of the president's signature. As we outlined earlier, this has been done before.
Our original post — "How Will President Obama Sign The Fiscal Cliff Bill?"
The American Taxpayer Relief Act is 157 pages long. It's not all about avoiding impending tax hikes. Some of it has to do with tax benefits for ceiling fans and tuna canneries. NPR's Ari Shapiro is here to explain.
And Ari, in spending bills, little weird provisions like this might be called pork-barrel spending or projects. Are we looking at a kind of earmark?
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.
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And I'm Audie Cornish. It's a new year, and on Wall Street and in official Washington, there is the ring of crisis averted. Long threatened across-the-board tax hikes and spending cuts did not materialize, but don't breathe too long a sigh of relief. We're about to look forward to the next few months.
Originally published on Wed January 9, 2013 8:15 am
The drama over the fiscal cliff and the familiar up-against-a-deadline dysfunction of Congress have largely overshadowed the leave-taking of some Capitol Hill originals.
So we wanted to remember a few true congressional trailblazers whose long Washington careers are ending. They include the first openly gay member of Congress, a leader of the libertarian movement, the first Jewish candidate to run on a major party presidential ticket, and the most fervent supporter of a U.S. Department of Peace.
Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 2:03 pm
The budget negotiations that led to a frantic New Year's deal on taxes confirmed many lessons about the way Washington works today.
For one thing, many of the most important relationships in the capitol appear to be broken. President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner led negotiations on a budget deal for most of the post-election period, but once again they came up empty.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Congress clamors back up the cliff but not before the speaker flips off the majority leader, and it's déjà vu all over again as we hit the debt ceiling. It's Wednesday and time for a....
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Groundhog Day...
CONAN: Edition of the Political Junkie.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDINGS)
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.
VICE PRESIDENT WALTER MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad: Where's the beef?
Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 2:01 pm
(We put a new top on this post at 3:45 p.m. ET.)
The House of Representatives will vote on aid for victims of Superstorm Sandy before Jan. 15, according to promises Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, made to legislators from the affected areas this afternoon. The speaker met with angry representatives at 3 p.m., seeking to quell their outrage over the postponement of a vote on federal help.
We're sorry to start the first work day of 2013 on a negative note, but here goes:
Though the House voted 257-167 late Tuesday to OK legislation that kept the federal government from going over the so-called fiscal cliff — and stopped income taxes from rising for about 99 percent of Americans — lawmakers didn't reach agreement on other very divisive issues.