NPR: 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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3:23am

Thu November 22, 2012
It's All Politics

Before The Showdown: The Long Road To The Fiscal Cliff

Originally published on Thu November 22, 2012 4:45 am

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

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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5:23am

Sat November 17, 2012
Economy

Solving Fiscal Cliff Math Might Come Down To Two

Originally published on Sat November 17, 2012 1:54 pm

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

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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4:22pm

Fri November 16, 2012
Politics

Congressional Leaders Optimistic On Budget Deal

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 8:07 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. For the first time since the election, Republican and Democratic congressional leaders came together at the White House and by all accounts, it was time well spent.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: We had a very constructive meeting with the president.

SENATOR HARRY REID: So I think it was a very constructive meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It was a very constructive meeting.

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4:43pm

Fri October 26, 2012
NPR Story

Akin Slowly Regains Support After 'Legitimate Rape'

Originally published on Fri October 26, 2012 5:57 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. 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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6:32pm

Fri October 12, 2012
It's All Politics

Bachmann Faces Competitive Re-Election Bid In Minnesota

Originally published on Fri October 12, 2012 6:41 pm

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

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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3:21am

Fri October 5, 2012
Solve This

Romney, Obama Far Apart On Closing Budget Gap

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

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

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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4:24pm

Fri September 28, 2012
It's All Politics

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

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 7:24 pm

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

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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5:40pm

Thu September 20, 2012
Election 2012

Parties Debate Meaning, Value Of 'Redistribution'

Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 6:19 pm

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

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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6:21am

Sun September 16, 2012
Politics

Congress Bets On Post-Election Edge, Delaying Action

Originally published on Sun September 16, 2012 8:36 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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5:24am

Thu September 6, 2012
Election 2012

First Lady Urges Delegates To Round Up Voters

Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 10:17 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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5:32am

Thu August 2, 2012
Politics

Back To The Debt Debacle: A Look At What's Changed

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 11:53 am

It was just a year ago that the House rejected a deal with President Obama and threatened to allow the U.S. to default on debt obligations coming due. The Tea Party refusal to raise the debt ceiling led to a downgrade in U.S. credit and a selloff in the markets. NPR's David Welna reports on what's changed since then and what hasn't.

5:59am

Sun July 29, 2012
Election 2012

Does Sen. Thune Have The Right Stuff For Romney?

Originally published on Mon July 30, 2012 11:47 am

Mitt Romney gets a kick out of South Dakota Sen. John Thune's comments during a January rally in Dubuque, Iowa.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Mike Lee is one of the most conservative members of the Senate. The freshman Utah Republican was elected with strong Tea Party backing and, like Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, he's a man of the West.

Mention the possibility that Thune, 51, might team up with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and Lee's eyes light up: "I love John," he says. "He's articulate, passionate, collegial. I mean ... I think he'd be great."

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7:50am

Sat July 28, 2012
Law

The NRA's Lock On The Gun Control Debate

Originally published on Sat July 28, 2012 8:10 pm

A supporter of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney holds an NRA baseball cap during at a campaign rally in Craig, Colo., in May.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

It's been just over a week since moviegoers in Aurora, Colo., were mowed down in a hail of bullets. There have been expressions of sorrow from the nation's political leaders, but no attempts at rewriting laws to head off yet another massacre in the commons.

Election-year politics may be one explanation; another may be the sway a powerful interest group holds over Congress.

This Conversation Didn't Happen

Earlier this week, Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette joined three other Democratic lawmakers at the Capitol to make a plea.

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6:00pm

Wed July 18, 2012
Election 2012

Portman A Low-Key Possibility For GOP Running Mate

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 3:34 pm

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, campaigns with Mitt Romney in Cincinnati on Feb. 20.
Mark Lyons Getty Images

As the guessing game continues about Mitt Romney's choice of a running mate, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman invariably comes up as a top contender. And with a wealth of experience in Washington and beyond, Portman would be considered a safe pick to run for vice president on the Republican ticket.

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6:41pm

Tue July 17, 2012
The Two-Way

House Spending Bill Would Slash $6 Billion From Federal Budget

House Republicans today released a preliminary spending bill that would slash more than six billion dollars from the budgets of the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education.The draft bill also bans NPR member stations from using federal funds to buy NPR programming.

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5:29am

Tue July 17, 2012
Politics

Democrats' Efforts To Reveal GOP Donors Stymied

Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 12:17 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Once again, a push by Democrats to force outside campaign spending groups to reveal their big hidden donors has been stymied. Last night for the second time, Senate Republicans closed ranks and blocked legislation on what's known as the Disclose Act. And as it happens, that legislation would've affected groups that are a key source of spending this year, favoring Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. NPR's David Welna explains.

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3:17am

Fri July 13, 2012
Presidential Race

Why Would Romney Bury Treasure In Bermuda?

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 11:04 am

The Thistle House in Hamilton, Bermuda, is listed as the address of Mitt Romney's Bermuda corporation.
David Welna NPR

New questions about Mitt Romney's overseas investments have dogged the GOP presidential contender all week. Many arose from a report in the latest issue of Vanity Fair. It describes how the day before Romney was sworn in as governor of Massachusetts, he put a corporation he'd set up in Bermuda in a blind trust held by his wife, Ann. Romney insists he did nothing wrong.

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3:05am

Thu July 5, 2012
Politics

Ohio Senator Vulnerable For Health Law Support

Originally published on Thu July 5, 2012 10:25 pm

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown speaks in Columbus, Ohio, in May. Brown, who is up for re-election this year, says he wakes up every day "trying to figure out how to create jobs."
Mark Duncan AP

President Obama hits the campaign trail Thursday with a bus tour in Ohio. The state is a crucial battleground not only for the presidential election, but also because it could decide whether Democrats keep control of the Senate.

Up for re-election there is Democrat Sherrod Brown, who is being challenged by the state's Republican treasurer, Josh Mandel. Mandel is highlighting Brown's staunch support of the new health care law — with a big assist from outside groups.

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4:13pm

Thu June 28, 2012
Politics

Republicans Say Health Care Fight Still Has Life

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 7:32 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Across the street at the Capitol, lawmakers lined up to issue their reactions to the court's ruling upholding the health care law. Democrats celebrated what for many of them was an unexpected victory. Republicans denounced the decision and vowed to repeal the law.

NPR's David Welna has that story.

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5:19am

Fri June 22, 2012
Politics

Senate Strips Public Funds From Party Conventions

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 7:54 am

Later this summer, Republicans will gather in Tampa, Fla., for their presidential nominating convention; Democrats will then do the same in Charlotte, N.C. Each party gets more than $18 million in public funds this year to help pay for the gatherings.

The money comes from that $3 box that taxpayers can check on their federal tax returns. But this could be the last time party conventions get taxpayer funding.

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6:24pm

Wed June 20, 2012
Election 2012

Hill Republicans Tight-Lipped On Immigration Change

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 8:00 pm

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio (left) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Capitol Hill in February. Republicans have been quick to criticize the president for bypassing Congress with his immigration action, but they've been unusually silent on the policy itself.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Nearly a week has gone by since President Obama announced a new immigration policy that could halt the deportation of some 800,000 young people brought to the country illegally.

While Republicans on Capitol Hill were quick to criticize the president for bypassing Congress, they've been unusually silent on the question of whether these illegal immigrants should be getting such a break.

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1:00pm

Tue June 19, 2012
Parallel Lives

Obama And Congress: Bipartisanship Talk Met Reality

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 6:59 pm

President Obama addresses a joint session of Congress while delivering his State of the Union speech in 2011. During his first two years in office, Obama used big Democratic majorities in Congress to muscle through major legislation, but since the 2010 midterm elections, he's increasingly been stymied by a wall of GOP opposition.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

From now until November, President Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney will emphasize their differences. But the two men's lives actually coincide in a striking number of ways. That includes struggling with their respective legislatures. Earlier, NPR's David Welna explored Romney's time as governor of Massachusetts. In this installment of "Parallel Lives," a look at Obama and Congress.

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3:04am

Mon June 18, 2012
Money & Politics

'Citizens United' Case Gets Renewed Scrutiny

Originally published on Mon June 18, 2012 9:50 am

Critics say U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, shown in 2010, backtracked on previous pledges to give high priority to precedent in the Citizens United campaign finance case.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

As early as Monday, the Supreme Court could decide to revisit its landmark Citizens United ruling of two and a half years ago.

That case gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited amounts in political campaigns. Now, a Montana case could lead the high court to take a second look at Citizens United.

Meanwhile, the role of Chief Justice John Roberts in the case is also raising questions in Congress.

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5:39pm

Wed June 13, 2012
Parallel Lives

Romney As Governor: Confrontation, One Big Deal

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 1:30 pm

Mitt Romney, then the governor-elect of Massachusetts, walks into the House chambers during inaugural ceremonies at the Statehouse in Boston, on Jan. 2, 2003.
Elise Amendola AP

Whether President Obama or Republican Mitt Romney comes out on top in November, the man who occupies the Oval Office next year will bring exactly four years of experience as a top political executive.

Obama has gotten his experience in the White House; Romney got his as governor of Massachusetts, from 2003 to 2007.

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7:09pm

Thu May 31, 2012
Election 2012

Boston Takes Center Stage In Fight For White House

Originally published on Thu May 31, 2012 10:58 pm

Mitt Romney shakes hands as he walks into the House Chambers during inaugural ceremonies at the State House in Boston in 2003. the Obama campaign sought to focus attention on Romney's tenure as Massachusetts governor.
Elise Amendola AP

President Obama's re-election campaign is training some of its heaviest guns on a new target — the four years that GOP presidential challenger Mitt Romney served as governor of Massachusetts.

In Boston Thursday, David Axelrod, a top Obama campaign adviser, joined Democratic state legislators and mayors on the steps of the State House to lampoon Romney's record there as governor between 2003 and 2007.

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3:04am

Tue May 29, 2012
It's All Politics

Dire Predictions Amid Another Looming Fiscal Battle

Originally published on Tue May 29, 2012 11:27 am

There are growing warnings on Capitol Hill that the nation could be rolling toward an end-of-the-year fiscal train wreck.

"The looming tax hike will be absolutely devastating," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.

"You can call this a fiscal cliff. You can call it 'Taxmageddon' as others have done. Whatever you call it, it will be a disaster for the middle class," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, added.

And Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., said: "It's a tsunami; there's no question about it, and it's coming."

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3:25am

Wed May 23, 2012
Politics

U.S. Politicians See Opposite Messages In Euro Crisis

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 8:41 am

President Obama talks to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande (upper left), NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (center) and other leaders during the official photo at Soldier Field in Chicago during the NATO summit Sunday.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

European stock markets have rallied in anticipation of an informal summit of European Union leaders Wednesday in Brussels. A major policy pivot is expected to address the eurozone's debts and deficits crisis.

Up to now, European leaders have emphasized austerity, and that has cost some of them their jobs. The new approach is likely to focus on the same kind of growth President Obama has pursued in the United States — where Democrats and Republicans are drawing opposite conclusions from the euro crisis.

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2:51am

Fri May 11, 2012
Election 2012

Obama, Romney In The Ring For Nevada's Latino Vote

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 7:10 am

Caroline Maya, a 21-year-old college student, registers to vote for the first time at the Latinos for Obama booth outside the Grand Sierra Casino in Reno, Nev., Saturday.
David Welna NPR

President Obama is giving a speech about the economy Friday in Reno, Nev. It's his third trip to Nevada this year. In 2008, he won the state by 12 percentage points — in large part by getting more than three-quarters of the Latino vote.

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6:39am

Mon May 7, 2012
Election 2012

Ron Paul Backers Dominate Nevada's GOP Convention

Mitt Romney is not the only Republican running for president. Congressman Ron Paul of Texas is still in the race. Over the weekend in Nevada, Paul supporters outnumber Romney backers at the state GOP convention in Sparks.

7:27am

Sun May 6, 2012
Presidential Race

Presidential Race Takes Libertarian Tilt In Nev.

Originally published on Sun May 6, 2012 11:38 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And in case you missed it, the Libertarian Party held its national nominating convention in Las Vegas yesterday and chose a former Republican named Gary Johnson as its presidential nominee. Meanwhile, in Sparks, Nevada, supporters of Republican presidential contender Ron Paul dominated the state's GOP convention with Paul himself addressing the gathering. NPR's David Welna has more.

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