Tamara Keith

Tamara Keith is a NPR White House Correspondent. She is especially focused on matters related to the economy and the Federal budget.

Prior to moving into her current role in January 2014, she was a Congressional Correspondent covering Congress with an emphasis on the budget, taxes and the ongoing fiscal fights. During the Republican presidential primaries she covered Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich in South Carolina, and traveled with Mitt Romney leading into the primaries in Colorado and Ohio, among other states. She began covering congress in August 2011.

Keith joined NPR in 2009 as a Business Reporter. In that role, she reported on topics spanning the business world from covering the debt downgrade and debt ceiling crisis to the latest in policy debates, legal issues and technology trends. In early 2010, she was on the ground in Haiti covering the aftermath of the country's disastrous earthquake and later she covered the oil spill in the Gulf. In 2011, Keith conceived and reported the 2011 NPR series The Road Back To Work, a year-long series featuring the audio diaries of six people in St. Louis who began the year unemployed and searching for work.

Keith has deep roots in public radio and got her start in news by writing and voicing essays for NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday as a teenager. While in college, she launched her career at NPR Member Station KQED's California Report, covering topics including agriculture and the environment. In 2004, Keith began working at NPR Member Station WOSU in Columbus, Ohio, where she reported on politics and the 2004 presidential campaign.

Keith went back to California to open the state capital bureau for NPR Member Station KPCC/Southern California Public Radio. In 2006, Keith returned to KQED, serving as the Sacramento-region reporter for two years.

In 2001, Keith began working on B-Side Radio, an hour-long public radio show and podcast that she co-founded, produced, hosted, edited, and distributed for nine years.

Over the course of her career Keith has been the recipient of numerous accolades, including an award for best news writing from the APTRA California/Nevada and a first place trophy from the Society of Environmental Journalists for "Outstanding Story Radio." Keith was a 2010-2011 National Press Foundation Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow.

Keith earned a bachelor's degree in Philosophy from University of California, Berkeley, and a master's degree at the UCB Graduate School of Journalism. Tamara is also a member of the Bad News Babes, a media softball team that once a year competes against female members of Congress in the Congressional Women's Softball game.

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Politics
6:45 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Budget Negotiations Kick Off On Capitol Hill

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 3:24 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

Today, something uncommon is happening on Capitol Hill. Not one, but two conference committees are meeting to work out the differences between House and Senate on the budget and the farm bill. This is the way Congress was designed to work. These days, those sorts of committees are quite rare.

To talk about what's at stake, we're joined by NPR congressional correspondent, Tamara Keith. Good morning.

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Politics
6:07 am
Sat October 26, 2013

Pondering A Presidential Run? Cruz Dines In Iowa

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks on Friday during the Republican Party of Iowa's Reagan Dinner in Des Moines.
Scott Morgan AP

Originally published on Sat October 26, 2013 9:19 am

Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican and Tea-Party darling, was in Iowa Friday headlining a fundraising dinner for the state Republican Party. It was Cruz's third visit to Iowa in as many months, but this time was different.

It was his first time back since the government shutdown and his 21-hour, anti-Obamacare talkathon that preceded it — events that catapulted him from junior senator to a conservative hero and household name.

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Politics
3:30 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Is It Ever Too Early To Launch A 2016 Presidential Bid?

Originally published on Fri October 25, 2013 5:55 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

As we just heard, Republican Party approval ratings are lower than ever, but that's not stopping Texas Senator Ted Cruz from taking a post-shutdown victory lap in Iowa tonight. Cruz is headlining the state Republican Party's annual Reagan dinner and he's often talked about as a potential presidential candidate. Iowa, of course, holds the first presidential caucus. NPR's Tamara Keith is in Des Moines to hear the speech and she joins us now. Hey there, Tamara.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Hey, Audie.

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Politics
4:43 am
Fri October 25, 2013

GOP Lacks A Clear Favorite For Iowa Senate Race

With Democrat Tom Harkin retiring, Iowa will have an open U.S. Senate seat for the first time in nearly 30 years. For Republicans hoping to gain a majority in the Senate, this is a key opening. But the GOP is far from settling on a candidate.

Politics
2:27 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Boehner Signals He'll Cave To Stave Off Debt Default

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 4:39 pm

With hours left before the U.S. Treasury could start defaulting on its obligation, House Speaker John Boehner finally appears to have relented to allow an end to the standoff using a mix of Democratic and Republican votes.

Politics
3:22 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Hope For Solution As Obama, Boehner Agree To Keep Talking

Originally published on Fri October 11, 2013 4:38 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The government is still shut down. And the debt ceiling still needs to be raised or the country may not be able to pay all of its bills after next week. And how either of those issues is resolved remains unclear. But as NPR congressional correspondent Tamara Keith reports, there has been some movement.

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Politics
3:45 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

Boehner's New Pitch To Republicans And Obama: Push Back Debt Deadline

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 6:33 pm

House Speaker John Boehner pitched his Republican caucus Thursday on the idea of pushing back the debt limit deadline from next week to late November.

Business
12:56 am
Thu October 10, 2013

When It Comes To Jobs, Not All Small Businesses Make It Big

Sweetgreen co-founders Nathaniel Ru (from left), Jonathan Neman and Nicolas Jammet at the opening of a Virginia location last year.
Courtesy of Sweetgreen

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 2:38 pm

Part of a series about small businesses in America

When it comes to job creation, politicians talk about small businesses as the engines of the U.S. economy. It's been a familiar refrain among politicians from both major parties for years.

But it obscures the economic reality. It makes a nice slogan, but it's not really accurate to say that small businesses produce most of the nation's new jobs, says John Haltiwanger, an economics professor at the University of Maryland.

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The Government Shutdown
3:37 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

GOP Shutdown Strategy Gives House A Twilight Zone Feel

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., holds a news conference Oct. 3 with the GOP Doctors Caucus — members of the House who are medical professionals by training — to talk about how the government shutdown is affecting medical research.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 4:51 pm

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Politics
3:45 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

Shutdown Stalemate Continues In Dueling Press Conferences

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 5:24 pm

House Republicans had a closed door meeting this morning, and emerged with the same talking point they've used all week: They just want to negotiate with the president. President Obama quickly gave his response: He will not negotiate over the government shutdown or the debt ceiling.

Politics
2:55 am
Mon October 7, 2013

Politics Within The GOP Keeps Shutdown In Motion

Originally published on Mon October 7, 2013 3:30 am

As the partial government shutdown nears the start of its second week, Democrats say the only way out is for House Republicans to pass a clean spending bill to re-open the government with no changes to the Affordable Care Act. Some Republicans agree. So why don't moderate House Republicans rise up, and do something to end the shutdown?

Politics
3:24 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Republicans Pivot From Obamacare To Find Way Out Of Shutdown

Not long ago, the government shutdown was all about the Affordable Care Act, and Republicans' attempt to defund it. But in recent days, it seems to have become more about finding some way for House Speaker John Boehner to claim some sort of victory.

Politics
3:17 am
Thu October 3, 2013

Why A Handful Of Hard-Liners Has A Hold On Boehner

House Speaker John Boehner speaks to the media after a meeting with President Obama at the White House on Wednesday.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 3, 2013 10:53 am

To understand House Speaker John Boehner's role in the government shutdown, you have to understand the 30 or so House Republican hard-liners and his relationship with them.

It's an uneasy one at best.

"Listen, we've got a diverse caucus," was how Boehner put it in mid-September, shortly after the 30 forced him to ditch his original plan for a temporary government funding bill.

"Whenever we're trying to put together a plan, we've got 233 members — all of whom have their own plan," he said. "It's tough to get them on the same track. We got there."

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Politics
2:24 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

As Shutdown Drags, Boehner Shifts Focus From Health Law

Originally published on Wed October 2, 2013 5:56 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. Day two of the government shutdown is nearing its finish with no end in sight. President Obama is gathering the four top Congressional leaders to the White House this evening, but it's really just one person he'll need to persuade, House Speaker John Boehner.

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Politics
2:52 am
Wed October 2, 2013

Why Ted Cruz Looms Large In Government Shutdown Drama

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz speaks to local residents during a fundraising picnic for the Iowa Republican Party in Des Moines in July.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Originally published on Wed October 2, 2013 9:54 am

In the second day of a partial government shutdown, Congress is at a stalemate.

On Tuesday night, House Republicans tried to pass three small bills funding popular parts of the government, such as the national parks. But they failed. The White House had already threatened a veto.

That strategy, as with others in this fight, is credited to Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

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NPR Story
6:22 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Senate Rejects House Spending Bill

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 8:09 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And on Capitol Hill, words of anger and frustration today over the increasing likelihood of a government shutdown. This morning in the House, members of both parties took to the floor and pointed fingers.

REPRESENTATIVE EARL BLUMENAUER: If you're serious about working together to solve problems, why don't you work together to solve problems?

REPRESENTATIVE TED POE: Where oh where has the Senate gone? Where oh where can they be? With time so short and issues so long, where oh where has the Senate gone?

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Politics
2:32 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Hours From Shutdown, Senate Says No To House Plan

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 8:09 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. Four more hours, that's how long lawmakers have to agree on a spending bill before the federal government shuts down. Hundreds of thousands of employees will be furloughed. National parks and museums will close and some food safety programs will shut down. This afternoon, President Obama criticized Congressional Republicans for the economic impact a shutdown would have.

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Politics
3:17 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Senate OKs Stopgap Spending Bill, Leaving Obamacare Intact

Tea Party-backed Republican senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee failed to block the Senate from removing language defunding Obamacare from a stopgap spending bill. Democrats proceeded to replace the House spending bill that took away money for Obamacare with their own version that funds the government through Nov. 15, but leaves the Affordable Care Act alone. A federal government shutdown starts Tuesday if both chambers don't agree on a spending plan by then.

Politics
1:55 am
Fri September 27, 2013

House GOP Leaders Gear Up For Debt Ceiling Battle

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 4:07 am

Even as the potential government shutdown drama remains unresolved, House Republican leaders are moving on to the next deadline: the debt ceiling. Economists say defaulting on payments could be catastrophic, but many House Republicans believe the debt ceiling is the best place to take a stand. Some even say the risk of default really isn't all that bad.

Politics
3:44 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

House Republicans Ready To Move On To Debt Ceiling Debate

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 5:19 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

The clock is ticking towards a partial government shutdown, and congressional Republicans and Democrats are digging in their heels. In many ways, the House and Senate are no closer to a deal than they were three weeks ago when they returned from recess. NPR congressional correspondent Tamara Keith explains.

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Politics
4:03 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Senate Inches Closer To Resolution To Stave Off Shutdown

The Senate took the next step on its weeklong road to passing a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown next week. The legislative movement follows on the heels of a 21-hour talk-a-thon by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who is hoping to defund Obamacare.

Politics
5:46 am
Sat September 21, 2013

What's Next In The Congressional Budget Showdown?

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks at a Republican rally Friday after the House passed a measure that would temporarily fund the government while crippling President Obama's health care law. The Senate is not expected to follow suit.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Sat September 21, 2013 9:34 am

The House has passed a stopgap spending bill that would keep the government open through Dec. 15. It passed almost entirely along party lines: In addition to funding the government, it calls for defunding of the Affordable Care Act.

The White House has said President Obama would veto the bill, were it to come to his desk in this form. And it most likely won't. Democrats, who control the Senate, won't pass a bill that defunds Obamacare.

Which raises the question, now what?

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Politics
3:08 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

House Funding Vote Likely To Put GOP In A Bind

At the insistence of Tea Party senators, the Republican-led House passed a government-funding plan that also defunds the Affordable Care Act. Now it heads to the Senate, where Democrats will likely take out health care language and send it right back.

It's All Politics
1:28 am
Fri September 20, 2013

House Nears Vote To Fund Government, Defund Obamacare

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, talks about the deadline to fund the government Thursday on Capitol Hill.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 9:18 am

The Republican-controlled House is set to vote Friday on a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open for business through the middle of December. And the White House has already said if it makes it to the president's desk, he'll veto it. That's because the bill also would defund the Affordable Care Act.

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Politics
2:48 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

House To Vote On Slashing $40 Billion From Food Stamps

Originally published on Thu September 19, 2013 5:07 pm

The House today is voting on a plan pushed its Tea Party wing to slash $40 billion from food stamps. That's twice as much as the original House farm bill contemplated, and eight times as much as the Senate bill.

Politics
3:00 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

House GOP Leaders Now Say Defund Obamacare Or Face Shut Down

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 6:01 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel. We have said this before and in the next week and a half you're likely to hear it repeated. If Congress does not act, the government will shut down on October 1st. Today, House Speaker John Boehner unveiled a new strategy designed more to appease the hardliners in his own conference than to avoid a shutdown.

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Politics
2:27 am
Wed September 18, 2013

House Bill Would Cut 3.8 Million People From Food Stamp Rolls

Advocates for the poor say the proposed cuts to the food stamp program — $40 billion over 10 years — don't make sense at a time when unemployment remains high.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 2:44 pm

The House of Representatives is expected to take up a bill Thursday that would chart the course for federal nutrition programs for years to come.

The measure calls for $40 billion in cuts over a decade to the federal food stamp program, now known as SNAP. The measure's Republican backers say it attacks fraud, but advocates say it will hurt the poor.

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Economy
3:18 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

CBO Report: Long-Term Deficit Picture Gloomy

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 3:34 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office just added fuel to the fire already raging in Washington over what to do about the deficit. A new CBO study paints a grim picture of the nation's long-term debt and deficit.

NPR's Tamara Keith reports that despite three years of fighting over it, Congress hasn't done much to improve things.

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It's All Politics
10:03 am
Tue September 17, 2013

CBO Report Warns Of Long-Term Debt Problems

Copies of President Obama's proposed budget plan for fiscal year 2014 are prepared for delivery at the U.S. Government Printing Office in Washington in April 2013.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 2:04 pm

There's plenty of fodder for deficit hawks in a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. In short, the future looks grim.

The 2013 Long-Term Budget Outlook finds that although in the short term the deficit is expected to decline, it will grow again — and, ultimately, in a big way.

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Politics
2:58 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Without Action, Government Will Shut Down At Month's End

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 3:44 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, the future shape of the economy will be influenced, in part, by negotiations in Congress this month. What could possibly go wrong? If Congress doesn't act by the end of this month, there will be a partial government shutdown and then in October a fight over the debt ceiling looms. Some Republicans want to rerun a tactic they used in 2011, refusing to borrow to pay for commitments Congress previously made unless the White House agrees to Republican budget demands. NPR congressional correspondent Tamara Keith has the latest.

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