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
3:01 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Despite Sequester, Government Shutdown Remains Unlikely

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 6:01 pm

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.

Politics
4:06 am
Thu February 28, 2013

Sequester Countdown Clock Keeps Ticking

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 10:04 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne. Good morning.

The sequester countdown calendar now has the number one on it. Tomorrow is the big day. Over time, the automatic across the board spending cuts could slow economic growth and lead to the furlough of hundreds of thousands of government employees. And we're going hear more about that in a moment.

NPR congressional correspondent Tamara Keith begins our coverage with the efforts to stop that from happening.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Spoiler alert.

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It's All Politics
1:13 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

On Message: What Boehner's Saying (And What He's Not) About Sequester

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, discusses the sequester Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 12:33 pm

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It's All Politics
12:50 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

On Message: What Obama's Saying (And What He's Not) About Sequester

President Obama speaks Tuesday about the sequester in Newport News, Va.
Steve Helber AP

Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 12:34 pm

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Politics
3:19 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

House Makes Little Movement Toward Avoiding Automatic Budget Cuts

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 5:05 pm

With automatic spending cuts totaling $85 billion scheduled to start Friday, Congressional leaders and President Obama continued maneuvering to avoid the political fallout. Melissa Block talks to Tamara Keith about the state of play and has details from a poll that suggests that Americans want to cut the deficit, but only in the abstract.

It's All Politics
3:32 am
Sat February 23, 2013

Senate Decisions Could Put Lindsey Graham's Seat At Risk

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina voices his opposition to President Obama's choice of former Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska as secretary of defense, on Capitol Hill last week.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Sat February 23, 2013 9:55 am

It seems Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has done his best in recent weeks to get as much ink as possible, talking about things that play well with the conservatives in his home state of South Carolina, like Benghazi and gun rights.

Graham also held up the nomination of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary to get more answers about what happened in Benghazi, even as he admitted Hagel had nothing to do with it. But his opposition might have more to do with home state politics than the nomination itself.

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It's All Politics
3:18 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Sequester In South Carolina: A Tale Of Fighter Jets And Preschools

Four F-16s from the 77th Fighter Squadron of Shaw Air Force Base fly over Darlington Raceway before a NASCAR race in Darlington, S.C., in May 2012.
Geoff Burke Getty Images for NASCAR

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 4:47 pm

In Sumter, S.C., home of Shaw Air Force Base and the 20th Fighter Wing, cars sport bumper stickers that say, "Jet noise is the sound of freedom."

Throughout the day, F-16s on training runs blast from a runway on base, disappearing into the foggy sky. But if automatic, across-the-board federal spending cuts slated for March 1 go into effect, there will be a lot less of that sound.

"To cut to that level, we just could not pay for the amount of flying hours that we currently have," says Capt. Ann Blodzinski, the base's chief of public affairs.

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It's All Politics
3:40 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

As Spending Cuts Loom, Alarm Bells Begin To Sound

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey (from left), Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Undersecretary of Defense and Comptroller Robert Hale wait for a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. Military leaders are warning Congress about the effects of the sequester.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 14, 2013 4:27 pm

Senate Democrats offered an alternative Thursday to the sequester, the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts set to hit March 1.

Despite dire warnings in congressional hearings this week, many on Capitol Hill seem resigned to the sequester.

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Politics
4:24 am
Wed February 13, 2013

Lawmakers React To State Of The Union Address

Originally published on Wed February 13, 2013 4:40 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And also watching the president's address last night was NPR congressional correspondent Tamara Keith. She was in the chamber and spoke to members of Congress afterwards.

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Politics
3:28 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Obama Tries To Rally House Democrats At Annual Retreat

President Obama addressed the House Democrats' retreat in Leesburg, Va., on Thursday to rally his troops ahead of a number of contentious issues. Audie Cornish talks to Tamara Keith.

Economy
3:37 am
Wed February 6, 2013

Obama Suggests Short-Term Fix To Sequester

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 8:51 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Good morning.

If Congress and the president do not act in the next three weeks, deep across-the-board spending cuts will hit everything from the Defense Department to education programs.

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Politics
2:48 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Obama Calls On Congress For Short-Term Sequestration Solution

Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 4:36 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.

It seems like the keyword in Washington these days is deadline: debt ceiling deadlines, tax deadlines, spending cut deadlines. Well, today, President Obama called for a delay on a looming deadline: the automatic spending cuts that are set to kick in on March 1.

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Around the Nation
3:59 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

Senator Menendez Under Fire As He Takes Up Senate Foreign Relations Gavel

Originally published on Thu January 31, 2013 5:55 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Now to politics in the U.S. and one of those ethical storms that can blow over in a few weeks or end a career. This time, the storm clouds are hovering over Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey. Tomorrow, he'll officially take on a prominent chairmanship in the Senate. So what's all the ethical fuss about?

NPR congressional correspondent Tamara Keith explains.

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Around the Nation
3:48 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

With Debt Ceiling Pushed Out Of Sight, Sequestration Comes Back Into View

Originally published on Wed January 30, 2013 4:18 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

This week, the Senate is expected to delay a political fight over the debt limit, the kind of brawl that could hurt the slowing economy. But they're really just putting off one fight for another, a debate over whether to overt the upcoming sequester. That's the only in Washington term for across-the-board spending cuts set to hit March 1st. The cuts would be severe and have few supporters.

But as NPR congressional correspondent Tamara Keith reports, lawmakers still can't seem to find a way around them.

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It's All Politics
3:27 am
Sat January 26, 2013

Obama Administration Takes Gun Control Fight Outside Washington

Vice President Joe Biden participates in a round-table discussion on gun violence at Virginia Commonwealth University with Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., on Friday. The panelists included people who worked on gun safety after the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.
Steve Helber AP

Originally published on Sat January 26, 2013 3:36 pm

The Obama administration is taking its push for gun legislation outside of the Beltway — possibly in a nod to the obstacles any gun control bills will face in Washington.

On Friday, Vice President Joe Biden held a round-table discussion in Richmond, Va., speaking with people who worked on gun safety after the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.

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Politics
3:12 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

House Pushes Off Debt Ceiling Deadline For Three Months

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 6:53 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Politics
3:26 am
Wed January 23, 2013

House To Vote On Short-Term Debt Ceiling Extension

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 6:13 am

The House is expected to vote Wednesday on a Republican leadership plan to put off the debt ceiling fight for three months. This marks a new strategy for House Republicans who until recently had pledged not to raise the debt ceiling unless it was matched with an equal amount of spending cuts.

Around the Nation
3:23 pm
Mon January 21, 2013

Inaugural Luncheon A Bipartisan Mixer Packed With Formality, Tradition

President Obama dined with lawmakers at the Capitol in the traditional inaugural luncheon on Monday. Within hours, Obama and congressional Republicans will be back at it over the debt ceiling, spending cuts and a possible government shutdown.

It's All Politics
3:40 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Some House Republicans Deny Risk Of Default In Debt Ceiling Debate

Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp, shown in June 2012, says the U.S. won't default unless the president chooses to let it happen.
John Hanna AP

Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 4:10 pm

The federal government hit its debt limit at the end of last year. Since then, the Treasury Department has been taking what it calls "extraordinary measures" to keep the government funded and avoid defaulting on U.S. obligations.

But those measures will run out sometime between the middle of February and early March. Then it's up to Congress to raise the debt limit.

House Republicans are wrestling with the best strategy at a retreat Thursday and Friday in Virginia. And some have been denying that there is a risk of default if the debt ceiling isn't raised.

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Politics
3:37 am
Wed January 16, 2013

House Approves Sandy Aid, Senate Votes Next

Originally published on Wed January 16, 2013 9:07 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

Victims of Hurricane Sandy are one step closer to getting a major infusion of federal disaster aid after a long delay. Last night, the House approved a $50 billion assistance package.

NPR congressional correspondent Tamara Keith reports.

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Politics
3:55 am
Fri January 11, 2013

Senators Flex Their Power During Confirmation Process

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 6:35 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's Friday and it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

As if the looming battles over the budget and debt ceiling are not enough, President Obama faces another delicate act with Congress.

INSKEEP: This one too grows out of the Constitution's separation of powers. The president gets to name his cabinet choices - as he's been doing. The Senate gets to confirm or reject them.

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Politics
2:45 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

Congress Approves Nearly $10 Billion In Superstorm Sandy Aid

Originally published on Fri January 4, 2013 5:02 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. New York and New Jersey and getting some much needed federal disaster relief, but at least for now, it's far less than the state's leaders have requested. Today, Congress approved nearly $10 billion to replenish the National Flood Insurance program. The move comes after a major blowup earlier this week when House leaders failed to act on a larger aid package. NPR's Tamara Keith has our story.

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It's All Politics
12:50 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

Obama (Officially) Wins! Electoral College Votes Tallied Before Congress

Vice President Joe Biden shows the certificate of the Electoral College vote for Ohio to House Speaker John Boehner during a joint session of Congress on Friday.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Fri January 4, 2013 1:23 pm

President Obama has officially won the election, with 332 electoral votes tallied in his column.

Of course this is old news. But the formal count mandated by the Constitution took place Friday in a joint session of Congress, heavy on ceremony and light on attendance.

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Politics
2:52 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

After Suspenseful Vote, Boehner Recaptures House Speaker Seat

Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 4:10 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

The 113th Congress was sworn in today, bringing with it a number of firsts. White men now make up a minority of the 200 members in the House Democratic Caucus.

CORNISH: In the Senate, there will be 20 women, an all-time high.

SIEGEL: Also, the first Republican African-American senator in more than three decades.

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It's All Politics
3:06 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

House GOP Leaves 'Lump Of Coal' In 'Fiscal Cliff' Negotiations

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, joined by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., speaks to reporters about the "fiscal cliff" negotiations at the Capitol on Friday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 7:21 pm

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.

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Politics
2:56 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Plug Pulled On 'Plan B,' House Breaks For Christmas

House Speaker John Boehner pauses during a news conference Thursday. House GOP leaders abruptly canceled a vote on his measure after they failed to round up enough votes for it to pass.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 9:16 am

House Speaker John Boehner was dealt a major defeat Thursday night. After spending most of the week trying to round up votes for his "Plan B" to extend tax cuts for virtually everyone, he pulled the measure without a vote and sent the House home for Christmas. The clock keeps ticking toward the end of the year, when automatic tax increases and spending cuts are set to hit.

Early Thursday, Boehner expressed confidence not only that his bill would pass but that the Democratic-controlled Senate would feel so much pressure, it would be forced to consider it, too.

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It's All Politics
3:27 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

House Republicans Face Threat Of Primary Challenges In 'Plan B' Vote

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.
John Hanna AP

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 8:18 pm

House Republicans are under a lot of pressure.

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.

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Economy
3:11 am
Wed December 19, 2012

Boehner Pushes 'Plan B' To Avoid 'Fiscal Cliff'

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 3:44 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

Steve, welcome back. It's good to see you.

INSKEEP: Oh, it's a delight to be here, David. Thanks very much.

GREENE: I can tell you, you did not miss any resolution to the fiscal cliff debate here in Washington.

INSKEEP: I was actually hoping you'd fixed that while I was gone. You didn't?

(LAUGHTER)

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Politics
3:09 pm
Mon December 17, 2012

Fiscal Cliff Talks May Have Hit Breakthrough Moment

Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 5:19 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Discussions here in Washington are intensifying between House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama as they try to find an agreement to avert a raft of year-end spending cuts and tax increases. The two men met today at the White House for 45 minutes. NPR's Tamara Keith joins us now from Capitol Hill with an update. And, Tamara, there does seem to have been something of a breakthrough in negotiations. Speaker Boehner agreed to let tax rates rise. President Obama came back with a counteroffer. Where are we right now?

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Politics
2:42 am
Fri December 14, 2012

'Fiscal Cliff' Message Repeats Itself

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 4:35 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

Politicians, they love to stay on message, don't they? Even when there's not much to spin, they'll spin.

MONTAGNE: Take last night. President Obama met with House Speaker John Boehner. Both sides said the exchange was frank. Lines of communication remain open.

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