In a news conference Friday, President Obama said there were still things the parties could agree on about the automatic tax-rate increases and spending cuts at the end of the year. But he said parties would have to work together to get a plan approved in the next 10 days.
"Call me a hopeless optimist, but I actually still think we can get it done," he said, after meeting with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and speaking to Republican House Speaker John Boehner.
Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., gets into his pickup truck after voting in Wrentham, Mass., on Nov. 6. Brown lost the election to Democrat Elizabeth Warren, but both he and his truck could be back on the campaign trail soon.
Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 3:55 pm
President Obama's nomination of Democrat John Kerry to be secretary of state sets off a chain of events that could put another Kennedy in the Senate, at least on an interim basis.
And it gives ousted Republican Scott Brown a fighting chance of returning to the Senate by midyear.
On Friday, Obama nominated Kerry, the senior senator from Massachusetts, to replace Hillary Clinton as the nation's chief diplomat. A 27-year veteran of the Senate and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry should win easy Senate confirmation early in the new year.
For more on yesterday's Republican meltdown, I'm joined by Republican Congressman Steve LaTourette of Ohio. He would have voted for Plan B if it had come up for a vote. He's a strong ally of Speaker Boehner, and he joins me now from Capitol Hill. Congressman LaTourette, welcome to the program.
REPRESENTATIVE STEVE LATOURETTE: Thank you very much.
In 10 days, virtually all Americans will be hit with a tax increase and deep government spending cuts will follow shortly behind. That is, unless Congress and President Obama can find a way to avert the "fiscal cliff."
It's not looking very promising at the moment. On Thursday night, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, pulled the plug on a measure he was calling his "Plan B" and sent his members home for Christmas.
Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 11:53 am
The most important measure of power on Capitol Hill can be summed up with a question: "Do you have the votes?"
For House Speaker John Boehner, the answer once again appears to be "no." In a move that's hard to view as anything short of humiliating for the speaker, Boehner had to shelve his own "Plan B" fiscal-cliff-avoidance proposal Thursday evening after it became clear he couldn't get enough fellow Republicans to support it.
Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 4:10 am
At a service for the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye at the Washington National Cathedral on Friday, President Obama said if it weren't for the example of the long-serving Hawaii Democrat, he might not have gone into public service.
Inouye "hinted to me what might be possible in my own life," Obama told the crowd, which included Vice President Joe Biden and other friends and former Senate colleagues.
In the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., mayors are a key part of the debate over the country's gun laws. Host Michel Martin speaks with two leaders who frequently encounter issues of gun violence and gun ownership; Kansas City, Mo. Mayor Sylvester James and former Cincinnati Mayor Kenneth Blackwell.
President Obama announced this afternoon that he will nominate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to be his next secretary of state.
Kerry's long experience in the Senate (he was first elected in 1984) and especially in foreign affairs (he chairs the Foreign Relations Committee) mean the senator's "not going to need a lot of on-the-job training," Obama said.
We followed the short appearance at the White House by the president and Kerry and posted some highlights.
Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 8:14 am
On this morning after he couldn't get fellow Republicans to support his "Plan B" for avoiding the year end "fiscal cliff" of automatic tax increases and spending cuts, House Speaker John Boehner took some questions from reporters.
We listened in and posted updates. Hit your "refresh" button to see our latest additions:
-- Update at 10:12 a.m. ET. House Will Come Back "If We're Needed":
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene. Good morning. Action last night in the House of Representatives suggests just how hard it could be to pass a solution to the tax increases and spending cuts due at the end of the year.
INSKEEP: House Speaker John Boehner has yet to reach a deal with President Obama, so he sought to put his own plan before the House last night.
Once again, a tragedy of horrific proportions has the nation talking about changing gun laws, discussions that in the past ultimately resulted in no change. Will this time be any different? And, with less than two weeks to go, what to make of talks between President Obama and House Speaker Boehner about the fiscal cliff? Plus: a new senator is named in South Carolina, while a venerable senator from Hawaii leaves us. NPR's Ken Rudin and Ron Elving review the week in politics.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., shown in 2010, has said he would deserve a primary challenge if he voted for House Speaker John Boehner's "fiscal cliff" proposal, which would extend the Bush-era tax cuts only on income of less than $1 million.
House Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team are urging them to support his "Plan B" to avoid the automatic tax hikes of the "fiscal cliff." But they're also facing pressure from outside groups that could mount primary challenges against them if they do.
Boehner argues his plan — which would allow the Bush-era tax cuts to stay in place for income under $1 million a year — isn't a tax increase. But a number of conservative groups have come to a very different conclusion.
Just days after a deal on the fiscal cliff seemed imminent, things appeared on the verge of falling apart. How did it happen? David Welna talks to Robert Siegel about how the internal politics of the House have complicated a deal to avert massive, automatic tax hikes and spending cuts.
Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 1:25 pm
Here was the choice facing Newark Mayor Cory Booker: Run next year against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose popularity would have made the Republican exceedingly difficult to beat; or fix his gaze on the Senate seat now occupied by an 88-year-old fellow Democrat, Sen.
According to Tom Diaz of the Violence Policy Center, more people in the United States die every year from gun-related incidents than have been killed in all terrorist attacks worldwide since the 1960s.
Credit Violence Policy Center
Tom Diaz is a senior analyst for the Violence Policy Center and the author of Making A Killing: The Business of Guns in America.
Are we headed over that "cliff" of automatic spending cuts, tax increases and expiring job benefits? Or are President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, closer to a deal than they're letting on in public?
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm David Greene.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep.
Last week's elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut was not the first massacre of recent years. It wasn't even the first massacre of this year, nor was it the first in which children were among the victims.
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep.
Every morning, the staff of this program sits around a table and talks through the news of the day. And yesterday, the talk grew a little heated. One of our colleagues noted that people talk about gun control after last week's shootings at a Connecticut school, but it's not always clear what different people mean by gun control or what could really work.
As the holiday travel season approaches, the Federal Aviation Administration is under pressure to allow more widespread use of e-readers on commercial flights.
Passengers can now use devices such as Kindles, iPads and Nooks while in flight, but not during takeoffs and landings. The FAA says it is studying the matter, but the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and a U.S. senator say it's time to act.
Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 4:34 pm
Anyone hoping that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre might change dynamics in the nation's capital when it comes to the issue of guns met some level of Washington reality on Wednesday.
President Obama held a news conference to announce his response to the Connecticut killings of 26 grade-schoolers and educators, including his naming of Vice President Joe Biden to head a team that will recommend in a month actions that might help prevent future Sandy Hooks.
Robert Bork, nominated by President Reagan to the Supreme Court, is sworn in before the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing, Sept. 15, 1987.
Credit John Duricka / AP
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Joe Biden, D-Del., and Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., on Sept. 17, 1987, during Robert Bork's confirmation hearings. Both Biden and Kennedy ultimately voted against confirming Bork to the Supreme Court.
Robert Bork, whose failed Supreme Court nomination provoked a lasting partisan divide over judicial nominations, died Wednesday at age 85.
A former federal judge and conservative legal theorist, he subsequently became a hero to modern-day conservatives. And as solicitor general in the Nixon administration, he played a small but crucial role in the Watergate crisis. In what came to be known as the Saturday Night Massacre, he fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox after the attorney general and deputy attorney general refused President Nixon's firing order and quit.
Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 5:35 pm
Advocates of stricter gun control legislation are hoping that history will not repeat itself.
Last Friday's shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., have shaken the country, but it's unclear whether the intense feelings of the moment will translate into legislative action. Many times in the past, outrage over gun violence has dissipated before Congress has chosen to act.
With days ticking down to the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts deadline, President Obama took his case to the American public again on Wednesday — and House Republicans were not happy about it. House Speaker John Boehner responded with a statement that barely lasted a minute as the House prepared to vote on competing plans to avert the tax hikes but which do not address the spending cuts.
President Barack Obama said that gun control would be a "central issue" in his second term on Wednesday. He also announced that Vice President Joe Biden will head up a panel that will offer proposals by mid-January to curb gun violence. The announcement, however, turned to an impromptu press conference, in which the president pivoted to questions about the fiscal cliff. He said the events in Newtown, Conn., should "give us some perspective" on the debate and urged quick action in Congress.
President Obama tapped Vice President Biden to lead a new government effort against gun violence on Wednesday. It's the first step toward what Mr. Obama promised as "meaningful action" in the wake of deadly shootings at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut.
The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. prompted new conversations about gun regulation in America. President Barack Obama has vowed to take "meaningful action," but the current political landscape poses challenges for the administration and members of Congress who want stricter gun legislation.
Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 11:28 am
Saying the nation has a "deep obligation" to take steps to reduce gun violence, President Obama confirmed Wednesday that he's asked Vice President Biden to head a task force charged with drafting "concrete proposals, no later than January."
And, Obama said, he will push them "without delay."