This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
Sequestration is official. President Obama signed an executive order on spending late last night as required by law. He sent the order to Congress and that triggered budget cuts known as sequestration. Earlier in the day, the president met with congressional leaders and when they left without a deal, he took questions at the White House.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, shown here in August at the Republican National Convention, has named a five-member task force to conduct a review of what went wrong for his party in the November elections.
These are difficult times for the Republican Party. In the latest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, Democrats led Republicans — in some cases by double digits — on issues like Medicare, taxes and the economy.
Congress failed to reach an agreement on the spending cuts known as the sequester — and now they are out of time. On Friday morning, Congressional leaders from both parties met at the White House. Afterward, House Speaker John Boehner made it clear that Republicans won't budge on taxes.
The long-feared automatic spending cuts are set to start late Friday, and now Congress must deal with another deadline at the end of this month. Tamara Keith talks to Melissa Block about what happens next.
The week's developments include a pope emeritus for the first time in six centuries, federal budget cuts seemingly designed by Sweeney Todd, and the visit by one of the NBA's all-time rebounders (Dennis Rodman) to the son of one of the world's greatest sportsmen (that would be North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un, whose late father claimed to have shot five holes-in-one on his very first golf outing).
On Sequester Day in Washington, lots of Twitter users invoked a favorite movie line to express their views on the automatic spending cuts. Some criticized the federal government; others just poked fun.
The #sequestermovielines hashtag reached trending status Friday with tweets citing Forrest Gump, action flicks and even the Disney movie The Lion King. We compiled a few of our favorites here:
President Obama speaks to reporters Friday at the White House after he met with congressional leaders regarding the sequester. "Even with these cuts in place, folks all across this country will work hard to make sure that we keep the recovery going," said Obama. "But Washington sure isn't making it easy."
Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 12:06 pm
Friday's deadline for President Obama to issue a sequestration order is neither the beginning nor the end of this year's budget battles in Washington. Here are five key moments to watch over the next seven months, and what's at stake in each:
Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 12:23 pm
"Washington sure isn't making it easy" for the American people and the American economy, President Obama told reporters late Friday morning as he and other lawmakers failed to reach a deal to avert $85 billion worth of automatic "sequester" spending cuts due to start at the end of the day.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, you've heard the pundits and the politicians give their take on the new S-word - sequestration. We'll ask the Barber Shop guys for their perspective on this later in the program. But first we want to talk about another big topic in Washington this week. That is the challenge to the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. That's before the Supreme Court, specifically section five of the act.
Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 11:03 am
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, discusses the nation's top science priorities, including the importance of research on how to protect Earth from dangerous asteroids. But in a tight budgetary climate, who will pay?
As I just mentioned, the automatic spending cuts go into effect today, covering much of the federal budget, and we were trying to talk with Lamar Smith about where those cuts might come, obviously across the board. Well, someone who might be more forthcoming or know more about it is here with us, Michael Lubell. He is professor of physics at City College at the City University of New York, director of public affairs at the American Physical Society. He's here in our New York Studio. Good to see you again.
The sequester is upon us, and NPR's Ken Rudin and Ron Elving try to explain how it all affects them. But it's a good week for Chuck Hagel, who finally gets the votes he needs to become Defense Secretary, and Robin Kelly, who wins the Democratic primary in Illinois' 2nd district and is likely to succeed Jesse Jackson Jr. in the House.
President Obama and Congressional leaders met at the White House Friday morning and, just as pundits predicted, they could not reach a deal to avert the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts set to begin at the end of the day. We've posted on that news:
Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus has begun a series of meetings with groups that have overwhelmingly gone Democratic in the past two presidential elections.
He's sitting down with Latino and Asian voters and with young people across the country. The youth group is of particular concern to the GOP because voting habits established at this stage could last a lifetime.
College students at Ohio State University were eager to talk about the state of the GOP brand. The class is called American Political Parties.
Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 5:17 pm
If New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was hoping for a return invite to the big CPAC convention this year, he probably should have thought of that before he bad-mouthed House Speaker John Boehner a couple of months back.
Christie was incensed by the House's failure to pass a relief bill helping victims of Superstorm Sandy, which hammered New Jersey and the rest of the Northeast last autumn. In typical Christie style, he did not pull any punches.
The network of political groups headed by conservative industrialists David and Charles Koch spent millions of undisclosed dollars in last year's elections. Now, after failing to help Republicans win the White House or the Senate, the Koch brothers are re-examining the network, its goals and strategies.
President Obama minced no words when he talked about how the looming budget cuts known as sequestration could hurt the Justice Department.
"FBI agents will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go," Obama said.
Starting late Friday, if Congress and the White House can't come to an agreement, the Justice Department will face $1.6 billion in cuts — about 9 percent of its budget. Attorney General Eric Holder told a group of state law enforcement officials who met in Washington this week that the situation looks ugly.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
It has been a long, strange journey on Capitol Hill for the Violence Against Women Act. Today, after months of debate, the House finally passed an extension of the law, known as VAWA, and sent it to the president. It helps combat sexual assault and domestic violence. But the law had gotten tangled up over other hot-button political issues.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. The metaphors become unbearably trite: the debt ceiling; the fiscal cliff and now the meat cleaver of the sequestration. Details are important, we'll get to those in a moment, but underlying the repeated rounds of budgetary crisis, lies a deeper political paralysis.
Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 1:13 pm
After years of legal wrangling, the Defense of Marriage Act — the law that prevents the federal government from recognizing marriage as anything but a "legal union between one man and one woman" — comes before the Supreme Court next month.
Gun violence devastates many predominantly African-American neighborhoods in places across the country. But some faith leaders feel that legal access to guns is part of the solution, not the problem. Host Michel Martin speaks with Reverend Kenn Blanchard about why he wants his congregation to have wider access to guns.
For the first time, Kenya recently aired presidential debates, ahead of its election. But despite the wide audience, many people doubt the country can get through the election without violence. Host Michel Martin catches up with journalist and debate moderator Uduak Amimo.
It may never have been intended to play out in quite this way, but the automatic spending cuts set to take effect for most federal programs Friday leave little room for preserving the most visible and popular programs.
"The law basically says the cuts have to be across-the-board by 'project, program and activity,' " says Stan Collender, a federal budget expert with the communications firm Qorvis. "That was specifically written to take away flexibility from the administration."
Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 8:39 am
It all depends on how you interpret the phrase "you will regret doing this." That piece of advice coming from a parent might be taken far differently than it would as a line from a Joe Pesci movie.
Where it falls on a spectrum from friendly advice to outright threat is apparently a matter of opinion. Bob Woodward, The Washington Post reporter of Watergate fame, and the Obama White House disagree on more than just the sequester story.