Liz Halloran

Liz Halloran joined NPR in December 2008 as Washington correspondent for Digital News, taking her print journalism career into the online news world.

Halloran came to NPR from US News & World Report, where she followed politics and the 2008 presidential election. Before the political follies, Halloran covered the Supreme Court during its historic transition — from Chief Justice William Rehnquist's death, to the John Roberts and Samuel Alito confirmation battles. She also tracked the media and wrote special reports on topics ranging from the death penalty and illegal immigration, to abortion rights and the aftermath of the Amish schoolgirl murders.

Before joining the magazine, Halloran was a senior reporter in the Hartford Courant's Washington bureau. She followed Sen. Joe Lieberman on his ground-breaking vice presidential run in 2000, as the first Jewish American on a national ticket, wrote about the media and the environment and covered post-9/11 Washington. Previously, Halloran, a Minnesota native, worked for The Courant in Hartford. There, she was a member of Pulitzer Prize-winning team for spot news in 1999, and was honored by the New England Associated Press for her stories on the Kosovo refugee crisis.

She also worked for the Republican-American newspaper in Waterbury, Conn., and as a cub reporter and paper delivery girl for her hometown weekly, the Jackson County Pilot.



Thu July 7, 2011

The Politics Behind The Debt-Ceiling Drama

President Barack Obama meets with congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room on July 7.
Pool Getty Images

The scene has become strikingly familiar over the 2 1/2 years of the Obama administration: congressional leaders footslogging in front of cameras to the White House for another "bipartisan" meeting to resolve yet another stalemate.

This time, however, the Thursday morning debt-ceiling confab in the Cabinet Room opened with a slightly different feel.

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Mon July 4, 2011

What's Really Causing Gridlock in Washington?

Changes in our communities might get Washington moving again.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

With Washington locked in a political stalemate over the nation's runaway debt, you might be wondering — once again — why can't we all just get along? Whatever happened to the art of compromise?

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Sat July 2, 2011

Abortion Wars: Taking It To The States

Originally published on Sat July 2, 2011 4:25 pm

The nation's abortion wars, simmering but largely quiet in recent years, have begun boiling again.

Nowhere has the battle been more pitched than in Kansas, where the Legislature this session passed four anti-abortion measures and attempted to adopt strict new licensing rules that this week came within hours of closing down the state's last abortion provider.

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Mon June 27, 2011

Michele Bachmann's Moment: Can She Sustain It?

Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann, riding a wave of Tea Party excitement over her strong showing in a new Iowa caucus poll and a round of national media appearances, has conspicuously altered the early race for the GOP nomination.

Just ask the Minnesota congresswoman's home state rival for the GOP crown, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who, despite dogged organizing in Iowa and efforts to improve his own national profile, has so far failed to find a receptive audience.

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Fri June 24, 2011

How I Remember Whitey

An early mugshot shows James "Whitey" Bulger in 1953.
Boston Police

Irish mob boss James J. "Whitey" Bulger's scheduled arraignment in a Boston courtroom Friday after 16 years on the lam will open yet another chapter in the violent crime-and-politics family saga that has consumed Beantown reporters since the 1980s.

"I've spent half my career chasing Whitey Bulger around," says Gerard O'Neill, retired head of the Boston Globe investigative team, which in 1988 outed Bulger as an FBI informant since the mid-1970s.

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Thu June 23, 2011

GOP Finds Itself At A 'Pivot Point' Over Afghanistan

Not so long ago, when the question was war, the response on Capitol Hill was an automatic blank check.

A largely compliant Congress, and presidents and politicians who were fearful of looking "weak on defense" or "unpatriotic," rubber-stamped massive military spending.

Funny how 10 years, two $1 trillion-and-counting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a budding military engagement in Libya, and a nation mired in unsustainable spending and debt can change what was once a military imperative.

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Tue June 21, 2011

Is Huntsman Wrong To Skip Iowa?

It was no accident that Jon Huntsman chose the Statue of Liberty as the backdrop to announce his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Sure, the scene had echoes of Ronald Reagan, who used the same spot to launch his 1980 White House run. But it was also far from the cornfields of Iowa.

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Fri June 17, 2011

Is There Life After Political Death?

Chris Lee
David Duprey AP

Former Congressman Anthony Weiner may be gone, but his three-quarters apologetic and one-quarter "I'll be back" resignation speech hinted that he believes a future in elective politics may not be out of the question.

History clearly suggests otherwise.

While plenty of politicians who have misbehaved --even criminally-- weathered their scandals and remain in office, the comeback prospects for those who resign or abandon reelection dreams are decidedly dim.

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Thu June 16, 2011

Republican Group Targets Its Own Party

It wasn't long ago that the conservative, free-market Club for Growth was viewed by a swath of Republicans as a furtive, well-heeled enemy whose efforts to purge moderates from the GOP had to be thwarted.

The club and its agenda are "not representative of the Republican Party," the director of the Republican Main Street Partnership, a group of moderate GOP congressional members once said, adding: "We raise money on a daily basis to defeat them."

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Tue June 14, 2011
It's All Politics

Michele Bachmann Makes Most Of GOP NH Presidential Debate

Michele Bachmann has been a caricature in the minds of some Americans who have followed her exploits as the founder of U.S. House tea party caucus and a go-to right wing pundit on Fox News.

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Thu June 9, 2011

Ethics Inquiry Least of Weiner's Worries

Members of the House Democratic Caucus, including Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), after meeting with President Obama at the White House on June 2.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Disgraced New York Rep. Anthony Weiner no doubt feels the walls closing in on him, what with key fellow Democrats calling for his resignation and his once high-flying Big Apple mayoral ambitions in shambles.

But one thing the married congressman likely won't have to fear in the wake of his sexting scandal is tough love from the secretive House ethics committee.

"They'll take their sweet time and do just about nothing," says Melanie Sloan, who heads Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). "The ethics committee is where ethics investigations go to die."

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Fri June 3, 2011

Could Unemployment Numbers Cost Obama His Job?

It's been a week of tough domestic economic news.

Home prices continued to slide. Manufacturing growth clocked in at the slowest rate in almost two years. Consumers cut back on discretionary spending.

And Friday's anemic job numbers — just 54,000 jobs added in May, far below forecasts — told perhaps the most powerful story of economic pain that continues to wrack Americans, and holds the potential to complicate President Obama's 2012 reelection aims.

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Wed June 1, 2011

Both Parties Losing in Debt Standoff

The debt ceiling show vote in the House is now in the rear view mirror, Wall Street having been fully briefed that the GOP-orchestrated rejection of a national borrowing limit increase would signify absolutely nothing.

The House-Republicans-visit-the-White House-for-debt-ceiling-talks charade has also wrapped up, but not before a bout of chest-puffing and sputtering over who's demagoguing whom.

"Demagoguing" having emerged as the Beltway's new favorite buzzword.
Because it's something so very unusual.

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Tue May 31, 2011
It's All Politics

Sarah Palin's Mystery Bus Tour Keeps Rolling (We Guess)

Updated at 2:23 pm — CBS News reports that some journalists are worried that Sarah Palin's East Coast bus tour is creating a dangerous situation on the highways by not telling the news media beforehand about its planned stops.

Instead, journalists are having to trail her small motorcade bus from stop to stop. The response from Palin and her aides to journalists is, in a paraphrase, "tough."

-- original post below --

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Fri May 27, 2011

Rand Paul, Tea Party Ask: What About Privacy?

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks during a Tea Party Town Hall meeting in February at the National Press Club in Washington. The freshman lawmaker is being hailed by civil libertarians for putting privacy concerns over the Patriot Act back in the spotlight.
Alex Wong Getty Images

It's been nearly a decade since Congress, in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, hastily approved the USA Patriot Act and its historic expansion of law enforcement and domestic intelligence-gathering powers.

For just as long, civil libertarians have been agitating for legislators to hold a full-blown debate on the sweeping measure, fast-tracked to President George W. Bush's desk just four days after it was raised in Congress.

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Mon May 23, 2011
It's All Politics

What Might A Tim Pawlenty Presidency Bring?

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, March 2011.
Steve Pope Getty Images

The day that Tim Pawlenty officially announced that he's entering the hunt for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, iseems as good a day as any to ask a Pawlenty presidency might look like?

In his announcement speech in Des Moines Monday, the former two-term Minnesota governor offered that he would confront tough issues with an honesty he alleges President Obama has failed to.

President Obama's policies have failed. But more than that, he won't even tell us the truth about what it's really going to take to get out of the mess we're in...

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Thu May 19, 2011

Huntsman Flirts With Up-In-The-Air GOP Race

Democrats have cranked up their attacks on Huntsman, as he prepares a swing through New Hampshire.
Philippe Lopez AFP/Getty Images

Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump are out.

Ron Paul and Herman Cain are in; so is embattled Newt Gingrich — for now.

Mitt Romney is raking in the dough, if not enthusiasm, but hasn't "officially" announced.

And Thursday, former two-term Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, most recently President Obama's man in China, has become the latest to formally test the GOP presidential waters, beginning a swing through New Hampshire to see if he's the Republican they've been waiting for.

Some Beltway sages suggest that the 2012 Republican field is coalescing.

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Tue May 17, 2011
Around the Nation

Floods Threaten Historic Sites, Not Tourist Favorites

The Southwest Reef lighthouse, on the Atchafalaya River near Berwick, La., is likely to be affected by the diversion of floodwaters. Above, it is pictured at its old location in the Atchafalaya Bay, before it was moved in 1987.
Courtesy of the United States Coast Guard

There has been good news over the past 24 hours for Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Diversion of rising Mississippi River waters though the Morganza Spillway northwest of the cities and into the Atchafalaya River basin appears to have helped lower the chances that the urban areas will be swamped.

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Thu May 12, 2011
It's All Politics

Romney's Health-Care-Speech Day Was Daunting Even Before Its Start

Mitt Romney knew Thursday would be brutal, and it was.

Even before it started.

On the morning of his much-touted health care speech Thursday at the University of Michigan's Cardiovascular Center in Ann Arbor, Romney woke up to a spanking on the conservative editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal, followed by a fusillade of criticism from Democrats as eager
as the Journal to undermine his presidential aspirations.

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Wed May 11, 2011

Gingrich In: But Can Newt Seem New Again?

Newt Gingrich, the 67-year-old former Republican House speaker, in an announcement on Twitter, said he intends to run for president of the United States.

No surprise: Gingrich's spokesman two days earlier had already announced that his boss was going to make it official, becoming only the third among a slew of would-be GOP candidates to issue an unqualified "I'm in" statement.

A singular figure, the thrice-married Gingrich has thrilled, disappointed and confounded supporters and critics alike since he left elective politics in 1999.

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Mon May 9, 2011

Obama Turns To Border Politics In Texas Visit

President Obama plans to pivot this week from foreign affairs and the targeted killing of terrorist Osama bin Laden to a domestic issue that continues to bedevil his administration: comprehensive immigration reform.

Or the lack thereof.

Given the expectations preceding the president's scheduled speech Tuesday in El Paso on immigration reform and border security, a comprehensive overhaul appears as elusive as the Sept. 11 mastermind proved to be.

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Fri May 6, 2011
It's All Politics

Raising Cain: GOP's 1st Presidential Debate Has Surprise 'Winner'

Frank Luntz, the Republican Party's erstwhile message-meister, was amazed.

He said he'd never seen anything like it.

"Something very special happened this evening," Luntz told the Fox News audience that had tuned in Thursday night to see the first GOP debate of the presidential season.

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Thu May 5, 2011

Ground Zero: Both Secular And Sacred

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:52 am

In the aftermath of the death of Osama bin Laden, the architect of the Sept. 11 attacks, visitors view the World Trade Center construction site from the World Financial Center building.
Bebeto Matthews AP

When President Obama lays a wreath at ground zero in New York City to honor the nearly 2,800 victims of Sept. 11, he will walk on ground that shelters the remains of most of them.

It is a place sad and sacred to many Americans, and especially New Yorkers.

It is also a place that has been mired in conflict, controversy and inevitable big-city bureaucracy in the decade since Islamic terrorists flew two passenger jets into the twin towers and took them down.

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Tue May 3, 2011

Bin Laden Death Fuels Afghan War Debate

The death of Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden in Pakistan has brought to full boil the long-simmering debate over the current aims and merits of the nation's 10-year war in Afghanistan.

And though there are those still making forceful arguments for sustained military engagement in the country that harbored bin Laden and his al-Qaida operatives after the 2001 attacks, his demise has broadened and intensified calls for the U.S. to get out.

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Mon April 25, 2011

GOP's Presidential Race Runs Through ... Minnesota?

It's closing in on presidential primary fish-or-cut-bait time, and in Minnesota politicos have been watching, a bit bemused, as two of their home-staters dip their toes into the 2012 Republican presidential waters.

There's former two-term Gov. Tim Pawlenty, 50, the amiable "T-Paw," who has been rolling out a more aggressively conservative "Tea-Paw"-as-in-Tea Party persona as he fights to build name recognition and activist support.

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Tue April 19, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama Begins Deficit-Reduction Campaign Swing With Low-Key Pitch

President Obama at today's town hall in Annandale, Va.
Alex Wong Getty Images

President Obama opened a three-day, campaign-style swing at a town hall event in Virginia today that was designed to begin selling voters on his deficit-reduction blueprint.

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Wed April 13, 2011
The Federal Budget Crunch

Obama Plan Aims For $4 Trillion In Deficit Cuts

President Obama, under increasing pressure to address the nation's burgeoning debt, on Wednesday laid out a sweeping vision to cut government deficits by more than $4 trillion in 12 years through tax increases and spending cuts phased in over time.

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Tue April 12, 2011
The Federal Budget Crunch

Deficit Forces Question: What Is Government's Role?

No one is expecting a bipartisan consensus any time soon over what to do about the nation's exploding deficit, and when to do it. Far from it.

But what many government watchers agree has been unfolding in Washington is a historic and potentially authentic conversation over federal spending, taxes and the role of government in the lives of Americans — from family planning clinics to Social Security benefits.

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Fri April 8, 2011
The Federal Budget Crunch

The Shutdown Matchup: A Preview Of Bouts To Come

As the partisan brawlers on Capitol Hill narrowly avoided the first federal government shutdown in 15 years, others were looking ahead to much larger spending battles Congress faces.

"This is just the undercard," says fiscal policy expert J.D. Foster, of the conservative Heritage Foundation.

After all, the partisan struggle playing out over funding for the six months remaining in the current fiscal year involves just policy and billions of dollars, not policy and trillions.

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Mon March 28, 2011
Conflict In Libya

Unyielding President Leaves Some Unswayed

President Obama on Monday offered a resolute answer to a question that has been on the minds of many war-weary Americans over the past 10 days: Why did we mobilize the U.S. military in Libya? And why now?

But for some, the president's defense of intervention fell short.

In his nationally televised speech at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., the president laid out his argument that Libya presented special moral and humanitarian circumstances.

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