David Welna

David Welna is NPR's national security correspondent.

Having previously covered Congress over a 13-year period starting in 2001, Welna reported extensively on matters related to national security. He covered the debates on Capitol Hill over authorizing the use of military force prior to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the expansion of government surveillance practices arising from Congress' approval of the USA Patriot Act. Welna also reported on congressional probes into the use of torture by U.S. officials interrogating terrorism suspects. He also traveled with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Afghanistan on the Pentagon chief's first overseas trip in that post.

In mid-1998, after 15 years of reporting from abroad for NPR, Welna joined NPR's Chicago bureau. During that posting, he reported on a wide range of issues: changes in Midwestern agriculture that threaten the survival of small farms, the personal impact of foreign conflicts and economic crises in the heartland, and efforts to improve public education. His background in Latin America informed his coverage of the saga of Elian Gonzalez both in Miami and Cuba.

Welna first filed stories for NPR as a freelancer in 1982, based in Buenos Aires. From there, and subsequently from Rio de Janeiro, he covered events throughout South America. In 1995, Welna became the chief of NPR's Mexico bureau.

Additionally, he has reported for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, The Financial Times, and The Times of London. Welna's photography has appeared in Esquire, The New York Times, The Paris Review, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Covering a wide range of stories in Latin America, Welna chronicled the wrenching 1985 trial of Argentina's former military leaders who presided over the disappearance of tens of thousands of suspected dissidents. In Brazil, he visited a town in Sao Paulo state called Americana where former slaveholders from America relocated after the Civil War. Welna covered the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, the mass exodus of Cubans who fled the island on rafts in 1994, the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Mexico, and the U.S. intervention in Haiti to restore Jean Bertrand Aristide to Haiti's presidency.

Welna was honored with the 2011 Everett McKinley Dirksen Award for Distinguished Reporting of Congress, given by the National Press Foundation. In 1995, he was awarded an Overseas Press Club award for his coverage of Haiti. During that same year he was chosen by the Latin American Studies Association to receive their annual award for distinguished coverage of Latin America. Welna was awarded a 1997 Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University. In 2002, Welna was elected by his colleagues to a two-year term as a member of the Executive Committee of the Congressional Radio-Television Correspondents' Galleries.

A native of Minnesota, Welna graduated magna cum laude from Carleton College in Northfield, MN, with a Bachelor of Arts degree and distinction in Latin American Studies. He was subsequently a Thomas J. Watson Foundation fellow. He speaks fluent Spanish, French, and Portuguese.

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It's All Politics
1:20 am
Sun December 2, 2012

The 3 Unofficial GOP Rules That Are Making A Deficit Deal Even Harder

House Speaker John Boehner takes questions during a news conference Friday on Capitol Hill.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Sun December 2, 2012 5:40 pm

Making an already head-splittingly difficult deal on the fiscal cliff even harder to resolve is a set of three rules by which the Republicans who run the House play.

These are not official regulations; they're more shibboleths that House GOP leaders have adopted in recent years. And those rules are leaving House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, little room to maneuver as lawmakers try to avoid a set of tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect at the end of the year.

1. "The majority of the majority"

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Politics
3:04 am
Fri November 30, 2012

Republicans Bristle At Obama's Tax, Spending Plan

Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 5:05 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

A high stakes negotiation that got underway two weeks ago on a congenial note has turned acrimonious. We're talking about the effort by the White House and Congress to avoid those automatic tax hikes and sweeping spending cuts that kick in on January 1st. The top two Republicans on Capitol Hill are flatly rejecting what the White House proposed to them yesterday. NPR's David Welna has the story.

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Politics
2:42 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

Republican Cole Breaks Party Ranks On Fiscal Cliff

Originally published on Wed November 28, 2012 3:47 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

I'm Melissa Block.

And we begin this hour with the nation's fiscal crisis. Congress and the White House have just 34 days to end the debate over revenue hikes and entitlement cuts and steer us clear of the fiscal cliff.

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Politics
3:13 pm
Tue November 27, 2012

'Achieve Act' A Republican Answer To Dream Act

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 3:55 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

I'm Melissa Block. And we begin this hour with talk of immigration reform. Dealing with the estimated 12 million immigrants now in the U.S. illegally has long been a priority, primarily of Democrats. Three weeks ago, Latinos voted overwhelmingly for President Obama. As NPR's David Welna reports, Senate Republicans weighed in today, unveiling legislation that would give some undocumented immigrants a path to legal status.

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It's All Politics
1:23 am
Thu November 22, 2012

Before The Showdown: The Long Road To The Fiscal Cliff

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., prepares to announce a debt ceiling deal in July 2011. That deal laid the foundation for the across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect on New Year's Day, 2013.
Harry Hamburg AP

Originally published on Thu November 22, 2012 2:45 am

New Year's Day typically inspires hope and new beginnings. But this next one may be cause for trepidation. Tax cuts for all income levels expire on Jan. 1, 2013, and most federal programs will face a 10 percent haircut — because Congress failed to agree on a deficit-reduction plan.

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Economy
3:23 am
Sat November 17, 2012

Solving Fiscal Cliff Math Might Come Down To Two

President Obama reaches to shake hands with House Speaker John Boehner, during a meeting Friday at the White House to discuss the deficit and economy.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Sat November 17, 2012 11:54 am

Fresh off his re-election, a politically fortified President Obama summoned the top four congressional leaders to the White House on Friday for the first of what could be many rounds of talks for a deal to avert fiscal calamity.

The meeting was part of the opening moves to keep the nation from sailing over the so-called "fiscal cliff" — those across-the-board tax hikes and deep spending cuts set to kick in at year's end.

In welcoming the quartet of lawmakers, Obama struck a conciliatory note.

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Africa
2:52 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Congressional Hearings Focus On Benghazi Attack

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 9:55 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. Three congressional hearings, two of them closed to the public, focused today on the September 11th attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans were killed in those attacks, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. As NPR's David Welna reports, the only open hearing today on Benghazi turned into a political slugfest.

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Politics
3:06 am
Thu November 15, 2012

Capital Hill Hearings To Begin On Benghazi Consulate Attack

Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 4:49 am

Both House and Senate committees hold closed-door hearings Thursday to question administration officials about the Sept. 11 attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans. Some leading Republicans say only a dedicated Watergate-style committee can get to the bottom what happened.

Politics
3:37 am
Wed November 14, 2012

Congress' Lame Duck Session Could Be Memorable

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 6:06 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Congress is beginning a busy post-election session. Lawmakers have weeks to prevent higher taxes and spending cuts due to take effect at the end of the year. Then there are hearings on the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya and the scandal over the affair that ended the career of CIA Chief David Petraeus. Here's NPR's David Welna.

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Politics
3:09 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

Boehner: GOP Won't Support Raising Tax Rates

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 10:17 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Until news broke of the Petraeus resignation, today's top story was the country's fiscal crisis. Across-the-board tax cuts will expire at year's end, and mandatory spending cuts will kick in. It's caused a post-election scramble to dodge this so-called fiscal cliff. Well, today, President Obama made clear any deal must include higher taxes for the wealthy. He also sounded an optimistic note pointing to remarks earlier today by the Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner.

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Politics
2:54 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

Reid: Congress Faces 'Enormous Challenges' Ahead

Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 3:50 pm

With most of the elections settled, the winners must now determine how they will deal with the impending "fiscal cliff" of spending cuts and tax increases that happen in two months. David Welna reports.

Election 2012
4:27 am
Tue October 30, 2012

Obama Campaign Slams Romney's Jeep Ad

A worker installs carpet into a Jeep Liberty at the Toledo Assembly Complex in Toledo, Ohio, in 2011.
J.D. Pooley Getty Images

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 5:51 pm

The impact of Superstorm Sandy has become the main focus of both presidential candidates, but what politicking does remain has Toledo, Ohio, at its center.

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House & Senate Races
3:57 pm
Fri October 26, 2012

Akin Slowly Regains Support After 'Legitimate Rape'

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. The race for the Senate seat held by Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill, has seen some wild swings this year. Republicans initially thought their candidate, Congressman Todd Akin, had the race locked down. But that changed dramatically in August, when a controversial remark by Akin swung the race in McCaskill's favor. Now, Akin's recovered some of that lost support. NPR's David Welna has this update.

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Politics
2:42 pm
Mon October 22, 2012

Majority In House Could Hinge On Key Iowa Race

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 4:25 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. In Iowa, two long-time members of the House of Representatives are waging a nasty reelection battle that will leave one of them out of a job come January. Both had their districts redrawn into one new district after Iowa lost a seat through reapportionment. NPR's David Welna reports on this rare incumbent face-off.

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It's All Politics
3:59 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

Bachmann Faces Competitive Re-Election Bid In Minnesota

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., speaks during the Family Research Council Action Values Voter Summit last month in Washington.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 12, 2012 4:41 pm

More than a year after winning Iowa's Straw Poll for the GOP presidential nomination, and more than nine months after dropping out of that race, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is back on the campaign trail.

This time she's after a fourth term representing Minnesota's 6th Congressional District, and Bachmann's campaign is running into stiff competition.

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Solve This
1:21 am
Fri October 5, 2012

Romney, Obama Far Apart On Closing Budget Gap

President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney finish their debate at the University of Denver on Wednesday.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 5, 2012 3:33 am

Here's one thing President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney could agree on during their first debate this week: Something has to be done about the enormous gap between what the federal government collects in taxes and what it spends.

But the two men fundamentally disagree on what to do about that budget deficit.

The Problem

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It's All Politics
2:24 pm
Fri September 28, 2012

In Blue-Leaning Connecticut, Tight Senate Race Has Democrat On Offense

Linda McMahon (center) visits a senior center in Naugatuck, Conn., this month.
Jessica Hill AP

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 5:24 pm

It might seem counterintuitive, but the man running against Republican Linda McMahon in her second attempt at becoming Connecticut's first female senator wants this race to be all about women.

Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy released an ad this week, hammering McMahon's stance on women's health and reminding voters of McMahon's former role as CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment.

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NPR Story
2:56 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

Republicans Face Uphill Battle To Take Over Senate

Originally published on Fri September 21, 2012 4:53 pm

Just a few months ago, most observers believed Republicans had a pretty decent chance to take control of the U.S. Senate. Now, that doesn't seem as likely.

Election 2012
3:31 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Parties Debate Meaning, Value Of 'Redistribution'

Mitt Romney speaks in Miami on Wednesday.
J Pat Carter AP

Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 4:19 pm

Cuban-Americans know a thing or two about what can happen when a government seizes wealth and redistributes it, as Fidel Castro's regime did five decades ago in Cuba.

So Mitt Romney had an especially receptive audience Wednesday night at a rally of Cuban-Americans in Miami, when he launched his campaign's latest line of attack on President Obama.

"He said some years ago something which we're hearing about today on the Internet," Romney told the crowd. "He said that he believes in redistribution."

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Politics
2:46 am
Wed September 19, 2012

Why Some Are Exempt From Federal Income Taxes

Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 2:02 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Far more than half of Americans pay some form of federal, state and local taxes. But one thing all parties seem to agree on is that the proportion of people not paying federal income taxes has grown larger in recent years.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Less talked about is that policies backed both by Democrats and Republicans, combined with an aging population and a high unemployment rate, have fueled that growth.

NPR's David Welna has this brief history of federal taxes.

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Politics
4:21 am
Sun September 16, 2012

Congress Bets On Post-Election Edge, Delaying Action

Originally published on Sun September 16, 2012 6:36 am

Congress roared into town last week after a five-week break. Lawmakers will be heading back home just as quickly this week. They're expected to complete exactly one big item before pulling the plug on this briefest of sessions: a stopgap spending measure that keeps the government from shutting down during the next six months.

Members of both parties prefer tackling the mountain of unfinished business they leave behind only after the November election.

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Politics
4:34 am
Fri September 14, 2012

Lawmakers Play Blame Game On Defense Cuts

Originally published on Fri September 14, 2012 9:43 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

At the rate we're going, there may be plenty of news before those debates. Today, the White House is expected to release a list of budget cuts totaling about $100 billion. At the end of last year's debt ceiling battle, Congress voted to either agree on deficit reductions or these big automatic across-the-board cuts known as sequestration would go into affect. They didn't agree, so here we are.

As NPR's David Welna reports, many Republicans who voted for sequestration now oppose it.

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Election 2012
2:39 am
Fri September 7, 2012

Thousands Of Shut-Outs Watch Obama Speech On TV

Originally published on Fri September 7, 2012 8:15 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

Speaking to the Democratic Convention last night, President Obama spoke a line that played off a famous speech by John F. Kennedy. Kennedy said people should ask what they can do for their country.

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Election 2012
3:24 am
Thu September 6, 2012

First Lady Urges Delegates To Round Up Voters

Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 8:17 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And after delivering a tribute to her husband on the opening night at the Democratic National Convention, First Lady Michelle Obama yesterday by reaching out to groups of minority delegates there in Charlotte. NPR's David Welna reports.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Let's give a rousing welcome for the first lady, Michelle Obama.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: The African-American caucus was fired up yesterday when Mrs. Obama got there just hours after she brought down the house at the convention arena. She was still getting going.

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Election 2012
2:46 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

Dems Capitalize On Advantage With Hispanic Voters

Hispanics were a major focus of the program at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Democrats, beginning their convention in Charlotte, N.C., are hoping to capitalize on their current advantage with Hispanic voters.

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