National Intelligence Director James Clapper leaves the Capitol after briefing members of Congress earlier this month. The Senate voted Friday to extend the FISA Amendments Act to 2017, granting federal agencies wide surveillance powers.
Originally published on Mon December 31, 2012 4:16 pm
The FISA Amendments Act has been approved for another five years, as the Senate voted to renew the law that grants the government wide surveillance authority. President Obama has said he intends to sign the measure, which senators approved by a 73-23 margin Friday morning. It had already won approval in the House.
Update at 6:10 p.m. Dec. 31: Obama signs FISA extension.
The president signed the FISA extension Sunday. Our original post continues:
Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 4:50 pm
Days before a budget crisis deadline will hit the U.S. economy, President Obama says, "I'm optimistic we may still be able to reach an agreement that can pass both houses in time."
The details of that agreement, which could avert automatic spending cuts and tax increases that are set to take effect on Jan. 1, would likely come from discussions between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. Coming up, are you invited to any parties for Kwanzaa, which is going on now? If the answer is yes, you're not alone. If the answer is no, you're not alone, either. We'll ask just how widely observed is this inspired-by-Africa, made-in-America celebration.
Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 4:48 am
So far there are no signs of a breakthrough in talks between Democrats and Republicans in Washington to stave off the tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect on New Year's Day. President Obama has summoned top congressional leaders for talks at the White House on Friday.
Also last month, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency joked to an environmental law conference: Everyone who wants my job, stand up. Yesterday, Lisa Jackson turned serious and made it official: She's leaving the EPA next month.
As NPR's Selena Simmons-Duffin reports, there are mixed feelings about Jackson's departure.
Hillary Clinton is preparing to leave the Obama administration after four years as secretary of state, earning generally high marks and fueling all kinds of speculation about what she wants to do next.
Her boss, President Obama, has paid tribute to her, calling her "tireless and extraordinary," though illness and a concussion have kept her out of public view for the past two weeks.
"More than 400 travel days, nearly 1 million miles," President Obama proclaimed at a diplomatic reception recently. "These are not frequent flier miles. She doesn't get discounts."
Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 7:40 pm
With negotiations to avoid the "fiscal cliff" uncertain at best, the Obama administration is trying to tamp down anxiety in the federal workforce.
The administration's message to various federal agencies is that there will be little immediate effect on public employees from the budget cuts scheduled to take effect next week if a deal is not reached. Treasury Department employees, for instance, were told not to expect "day to day operations to change dramatically on or immediately after January 2."
Rather than a wave moving in one party's favor, crosscurrents have moved the states apart. One political scientist says, "This hardly ever happens, where the blue states get bluer and the red states redder, instead of the whole country going in one direction."
Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 12:10 pm
States in this country are becoming like an unhappy couple. They've always had their differences, but their arguments have gotten so chronic that they're hardly talking to each other.
Whether the topic is abortion, tax policy, marijuana or guns, Democratic "blue" states such as California and Illinois are bound to take a different tack than Republican "red" states such as Georgia and Kansas.
Former prime minister and music producer, Edward Seaga, compiled an album to mark Jamaica's 50th anniversary of independence. It's called, Reggae Golden Jubilee: Origins of Jamaican Music. Host Michel Martin speaks to Mr. Seaga about what he sees as the 100 most significant songs to emerge from the country.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. My thanks to Celeste Headlee for sitting in while I was away. Coming up, a new way to retire or keep a frail, aging loved one close. It's a new kind of prefab housing that you can set up in your back yard. We'll tell you more about it later in the program.
Possible revisions to how the decennial census asks questions about race and ethnicity have raised concerns among some groups that any changes could reduce their population count and thus weaken their electoral clout.
The Census Bureau is considering numerous changes to the 2020 survey in an effort to improve the responses of minorities and more accurately classify Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern and multiracial populations.
Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 3:06 am
President Obama returns to Washington Thursday as do members of the U.S. Senate. They're cutting holiday plans short in hopes of coming up with a deal to avoid the tax hikes and budget cuts set to take effect on Jan. 1.
In today's Washington Post there's a story about former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey accompanied by his wife and to quote the story "an aide holstering a handgun at his waist" entering the Washington headquarters of the pro-Tea Party group FreedomWorks right after Labor Day. Armey was the chairman and according to the Post story, he was claiming control of Freedom Works. The headline of that story is - Freedom Works Tea Party Group Nearly Falls Apart in Fight Between Old and New Guard.
NPR's Political Junkie Ken Rudin recaps the week in politics and reflects on some of the significant political moments of the year. He also faces off in a trivia battle with burgeoning political junkie Gabe Fleisher, a fifth grader who drafts a political newsletter everyday before school.
Originally published on Tue January 1, 2013 10:03 am
As the nation's first African-American president, Barack Obama benefited from and expanded his party's enormous advantage among minority voters.
But as he prepares to start his second term, Obama hasn't managed to usher in behind him many Democrats who are minorities to top elected office. Conversely, Republicans — despite their highly limited support among non-Anglo voters — have managed to elevate more top politicians from minority backgrounds.
Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 12:49 pm
President Obama is "cutting short" a vacation that he'd already said he would cut short. "See you next week," he told reporters last week before leaving for Hawaii. The president is now due back at the White House on Thursday, which is pretty much what was expected. His family will stay in Hawaii until after the New Year.
Senators are also coming back to Washington, but many aren't likely to get to the Capitol until Thursday evening.
Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 5:11 am
The new Congress will have big problems to tackle and little love from the people who elected them. To find out what can be done to get things working again on Capitol Hill, David Greene catches up with Iowa Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley.
Sofia Campos, 23, is the head of the United We Dream campaign — a national network of youth-led immigrant organizations. Campos was born in Peru, but grew up in California, entirely unaware of her undocumented status until she tried applying for college scholarships.
Credit Courtesy of Sofia Jones
Sofia Jones speaks at the 2011 University of California Student Lobby Conference in Sacramento. Jones was among many lobbying for the California Dream Act and affordable higher education.
Throughout the debate over taxes and the "fiscal cliff," there's been a lot of looking backward — to the 1990s. The economic expansion of the 1990s was the longest in recorded American history.
Democrats say the economy thrived under the leadership of President Bill Clinton, including his tax rate increase on high earners. Republicans say government didn't spend as much then and that growth didn't really take off until the GOP took control of Congress in 1995.
So what actually happened in the '90s? What made them tick?
Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and then-presidential candidate Barack Obama in Amman, Jordan, in 2008.
Credit Photo provided by Library of Congress / AP
Chuck Hagel (right) and his younger brother Tom sit atop an armored personnel carrier in Vietnam, in a photo taken in or around 1968. The Hagel brothers were squad leaders with the U.S. Army's 9th Infantry Division in the Mekong River Delta.
Former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska is said to be on President Obama's short list to be the next defense secretary. But even the possibility of his nomination has stirred up opposition — particularly from members of his own political party.
If Hagel can survive a political ambush in Washington, he would be the first Pentagon chief who saw combat as an enlisted soldier.
The blunt-spoken Hagel favors deeper cuts in military spending and is wary of entangling America in long overseas missions.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee in for Michel Martin. Coming up, the U. S. economy has had an interesting year. I don't need to tell you that we're still facing huge hurdles. But on the other hand, the stock market shot up this year and some sectors are thriving. We'll talk about signs of hope in just a few minutes.