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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Politics
5:58 am
Sat February 11, 2012

Religion And Birth Control: Not Just A GOP Fight

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Catholic up for re-election this year, was one of the Democrats who spoke out against the White House birth control policy before it was altered.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

President Obama moved swiftly Friday to quell a politically perilous uproar involving two hot-button issues: birth control and religious institutions.

In January, the Obama administration announced that under its health care law, religiously affiliated institutions such as hospitals and schools would have to include birth control in their employees' health coverage.

All this week, Republicans on Capitol Hill bashed that policy as a violation of religious freedom, and some of the president's fellow Democrats added to the heat.

'An Accommodation'

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Politics
6:08 am
Sat February 4, 2012

'Buffett Rule' Becomes A Bill, And Congress Bickers

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, introduced legislation this week that would effectively raise taxes for most who earn more than $1 million annually.
Pete Marovich Getty Images

At last week's State of the Union address, the secretary of billionaire investor Warren Buffett was seated prominently with first lady Michelle Obama.

President Obama invited Debbie Bosanek to a seat in the spotlight to underscore a complaint her boss has widely made: that she pays a much higher tax rate than the 17 percent Buffett himself pays.

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Politics
3:00 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Giffords Makes A Tearful Farewell

Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords took to the House floor Wednesday one last time to say good-bye, for now, to her colleagues. It was an emotional scene as she handed in her resignation, a little more than a year after being gravely injured in an assassination attempt.

Election 2012
4:58 pm
Fri January 13, 2012

The Ron Paul Paradox: GOP Questions His Impact

Ron Paul greets supporters in Meredith, N.H., on Sunday, two days before he placed second in the state's Republican primary.
Stephan Savoia Associated Press

Originally published on Fri January 13, 2012 10:08 pm

Four years ago, Texas Rep. Ron Paul finished fifth in the New Hampshire presidential primary with just under 8 percent of the vote.

On Tuesday, he got nearly 23 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary, finishing second to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the Republican contest. That came a week after Paul's third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses.

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It's All Politics
12:01 am
Thu January 12, 2012

Some At RNC Meeting Say It's Romney's Race To Lose

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney greets supporters during a campaign rally in Columbia, S.C., on Wednesday.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 12, 2012 10:39 am

The annual winter meeting of the Republican National Committee got under way in New Orleans on Wednesday, just hours after Mitt Romney won New Hampshire's Republican presidential primary.

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Politics
3:00 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

House Rejects Senate's Payroll Tax Extension

The House blew up the end-of-year deal to extend the payroll tax holiday, but it insists it's the Senate's fault. If both chambers fail to forge a compromise, taxes go up, unemployment benefits expire and payments to Medicare doctors get cut by 27 percent — all starting Jan. 1.

The Two-Way
1:49 pm
Sat December 17, 2011

Senate OKs Two More Months For Payroll Tax Cut

"It would be inexcusable for Congress not to further extend this middle-class tax cut for the rest of the year," Obama said after the Senate passed a two-month extension on the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Sat December 17, 2011 9:53 pm

The U.S. Senate wrapped up a tumultuous year of divided government with votes that keep the federal government funded through September and extend expiring unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut another two months.

In a rare Saturday year-end session, the Senate's action averted a shutdown but was not the last word on the payroll tax cut extension.

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Inside NPR.org
1:32 pm
Sat December 17, 2011

Senate OKs Two More Months For Payroll Tax Cut

The U.S. Senate wrapped up a tumultuous year of divided government with votes that keep the federal government funded through September and extend expiring unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut another two months.

In a rare Saturday year-end session, the Senate's action averted a shutdown but was not the last word on the payroll tax cut extension.

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U.S.
5:43 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

Congress Won't Recess To Block Obama Appointments

The U.S. Capitol is seen above in 2009 as senators worked late into the night on legislation. The light signifying that Congress is in session may remain on this holiday season as well, since House Republicans have said they will remain in a pro-forma session.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 10, 2011 6:45 am

Senate Republicans blocked confirmation votes on two of President Obama's most high-profile nominees this week — one for a seat on a federal appeals court, the other to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Traditionally, the end-of-the-year holidays have allowed presidents to bypass Congress and give such thwarted nominees recess appointments. But an angry President Obama is quickly leaning that this might not be the case this year.

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Politics
5:06 am
Wed December 7, 2011

How Payroll Tax Cut Affects Social Security's Future

President Obama put Congress on notice Tuesday in a speech in Osawatomie, Kan.

He said that unless a temporary payroll tax cut is extended this month, 160 million Americans would see their taxes go up next year by an average of $1,000. But there's concern on both sides of the political aisle that the payroll tax holiday might be undermining the solvency of Social Security.

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Politics
4:09 pm
Fri November 25, 2011

Even Lawmakers Ask: Does Anyone Like Congress?

A dark cloud passes over the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Many lawmakers fear that Congress' already low approval rating will sink even further after the failure of the supercommittee.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Fri November 25, 2011 4:55 pm

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Governing
5:08 pm
Thu November 17, 2011

GOP Supercommittee Members Consider Tax Increase

Grover Norquist, president of the taxpayer advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform
Haraz N. Ghanbari AP

The congressional deficit-reduction supercommittee must agree before Thanksgiving to slice more than $1 trillion from projected deficits, or that money will be cut automatically from future budgets.

The fundamental divide between the panel's six Democrats and six Republicans has been over whether tax revenues should come into play. And with less than a week to go before the deadline, some Republicans are considering new tax revenue. But even the hint of compromise on that issue is dividing Republicans on Capitol Hill.

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Politics
12:01 am
Wed November 16, 2011

Keynes' Consuming Ideas On Economic Intervention

The ideas of John Maynard Keynes, seen here around 1940, had great influence over the economic policies that followed the Great Depression and World War II.
Walter Stoneman Getty Images

The last in a three-part series on thinkers who have had a lasting influence on economic policymakers. Other stories featured Ayn Rand and Friedrich Hayek.

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Politics
5:18 am
Sun November 13, 2011

Senate Democrats Challenge Defense Of Marriage Act

What Congress does, sometimes it later tries to undo. That's what happened a few days ago, when the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a measure repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.

Under DOMA, the federal government is bound to recognize only those marriages between a man and a woman. When the law passed 15 years ago, not one state recognized same-sex marriage. Six do so now, as well as the District of Columbia. But the effort to overturn DOMA faces stiff resistance from congressional Republicans.

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Politics
3:00 pm
Thu November 10, 2011

Senate Panel Votes To Repeal Marriage Act

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, host: Fifteen years ago, Congress overwhelmingly approved the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. It said, while each state could decide how to define marriage, the federal government would only recognize the legal union of a man and a woman.

Since then, more than 130,000 same-sex couples have legally married in the U.S. and today, a congressional committee passed the very first measure to repeal DOMA. NPR's David Welna reports.

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Politics
4:41 am
Wed November 9, 2011

GOP Wants Pentagon Protected From Automatic Cuts

Originally published on Thu November 10, 2011 8:44 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Counting down, it is now exactly two weeks before the clock runs out for Congress's supercommittee. If its six Democrats and six Republicans fail to reduce deficits by more than a trillion dollars, automatic spending cuts will kick in. Under this process, known as sequestration, the law would require half the cuts to come from defense spending. NPR's David Welna reports.

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Politics
4:00 am
Thu October 27, 2011

Deficit-Cutting Supercommittee: 'We're Not There Yet'

The 12-member supercommittee charged with finding at least $1.2 trillion in budget cuts next month met publicly for the first time in six weeks Wednesday — and agreed on little more than the fact that time is indeed growing short for them to approve a deal. Co-chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., said a lot of hard work has been done to find common ground and agree on a balanced, bipartisan plan for deficit reduction. But, she added, "We're not there yet."

Politics
4:00 am
Wed October 26, 2011

Supercommittee Reconvenes On Deficit Reductions

The deficit-cutting supercommittee re-emerges Wednesday morning with its first public meeting in more than a month. The group is charged with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions by late November. If it fails, automatic, across-the-board cuts follow.

Job 1: Careers That Shaped The GOP Candidates
3:17 pm
Fri October 21, 2011

Bachmann Once Prosecuted Tax Evaders For The IRS

Rep. Michele Bachmann, shown speaking at a reception by the anti-tax group Iowans for Tax Relief, was once a prosecutor for the IRS. On the campaign trail, she's made that part of her resume a selling point. "I went to the inside to learn how they work, because I want to defeat them," she said in South Carolina.

Steve Pope Getty Images

Fifth in a series

Perhaps more than any other Republican running for president this year, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has railed against taxes. She says they're too high, and that the current tax code should be repealed.

But Bachmann had a somewhat surprising early career: going after tax evaders as a prosecutor for the Internal Revenue Service.

'Know Your Enemy'?

At times, the congresswoman and former state senator has seemed to deny that for nearly her entire professional life, she's been on the public payroll.

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Politics
12:01 am
Mon October 17, 2011

Times Have Changed Since Reagan's 1986 Tax Reform

The clock is ticking down on Capitol Hill as a congressional super committee has only until Thanksgiving to agree on a plan shrinking deficits by more than a trillion dollars. The entire Congress then has to pass it by Christmas Eve or face huge across-the-board spending cuts.

Twenty-five years ago, another politically-divided Congress approved the biggest tax code overhaul in the nation's history. But much has changed since then.

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U.S.
12:01 am
Mon October 10, 2011

Opposition Remains As Key Vote On Jobs Bill Nears

President Obama holds up a copy of his jobs bill as he speaks at Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas. Obama is challenging a divided Congress to unite behind the bill or get ready to be run "out of town" by angry voters.

Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Mon October 10, 2011 4:55 pm

It's been nearly two weeks since President Obama urged a crowd of supporters in Denver to turn up the heat on lawmakers in Washington to pass his $447 billion jobs bill. So far on Capitol Hill, it's gone nowhere.

That could change Tuesday when the Senate holds a vote on taking up the legislation. But fierce Republican opposition both to the bill and how it's paid for leaves slim prospects of it going any further.

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Politics
12:01 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Bipartisan Support For China Tariffs Ahead Of Vote

Originally published on Thu October 6, 2011 8:48 am

The debate on trade sanctions against China that has roiled the Senate all week comes to a head in a make-or-break vote Thursday. Earlier this week, 79 senators voted to take up the bill, which could slap punitive tariffs on imports from China, the largest U.S. trading partner.

The legislation has strong backing from Democrats and Republicans alike; they say it could boost American jobs by punishing China's efforts to keep its currency undervalued and its exports underpriced. Opponents warn that should the bill become law, it could touch off a devastating trade war.

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Politics
12:01 am
Mon October 3, 2011

Debt Committee's Failsafe Might Already Be Undone

The debt reduction supercommittee had its first public meeting Tuesday. It would take at least seven of the supercommittee's politically divided members to approve any plan they come up with.

J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue October 4, 2011 7:19 am

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction — also known as the supercommittee — created by Congress this summer has just seven weeks to agree on a plan reducing projected deficits by more than a trillion dollars.

If that panel of six Democrats and six Republicans deadlocks, or if Congress rejects its work, by law automatic across-the-board budget cuts — half of them from defense spending — will be triggered. Already, talk is growing of undoing that trigger.

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U.S.
4:00 am
Tue September 27, 2011

Senate Deal To Avert Shutdown Goes To House

Originally published on Tue September 27, 2011 8:57 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, host: It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, host: And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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