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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6:48am

Fri December 28, 2012
Politics

'Fiscal Cliff' Countdown: 4 Days Until The Plunge

So far there are no signs of a breakthrough in talks between Democrats and Republicans in Washington to stave off the tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect on New Year's Day. President Obama has summoned top congressional leaders for talks at the White House on Friday.

6:44am

Sat December 22, 2012
Politics

So Far, No Christmas Miracle For Fiscal Cliff

Originally published on Sat December 22, 2012 10:16 am

A week that began with promising movement toward a deal on the so-called fiscal cliff ended with apparent backward progress. House Speaker John Boehner offered no evidence he had control of his unruly caucus, while President Obama avoided the topic entirely.

4:39pm

Wed December 19, 2012
Politics

Boehner: House Will Pass 'Plan B' Fiscal Cliff Legislation

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 5:43 pm

With days ticking down to the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts deadline, President Obama took his case to the American public again on Wednesday — and House Republicans were not happy about it. House Speaker John Boehner responded with a statement that barely lasted a minute as the House prepared to vote on competing plans to avert the tax hikes but which do not address the spending cuts.

5:08am

Wed December 19, 2012
Politics

Capitol Hill Reaction To Gun Mayhem Varies

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 5:44 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.

Even before the events of the last few days, Congress had a busy agenda. Lawmakers are negotiating over taxes and spending that could affect the economy in the year ahead, not to mention almost every part of the federal government and the take-home pay for millions of Americans.

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5:21pm

Mon December 17, 2012
It's All Politics

Some Senators Show Willingness To Take On Gun Laws

Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 7:19 pm

Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, has an "A" rating from the NRA, but questions why anyone would need the kind of semi-automatic assault rifle used in the Newtown, Conn., killings.
Dave Martin AP

As President Obama spoke to mourning families in Newtown, Conn., on Sunday night, he clearly seemed to suggest a need for tougher gun laws.

"Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage? That the politics are too hard?" he said.

For Congress, the politics have been too hard.

The combination of a powerful gun owners' lobby in the form of the National Rifle Association and a loss of public support for gun control has stymied efforts in recent years to tighten gun laws.

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6:49am

Sun December 16, 2012
It's All Politics

Parting Advice From The Senators Leaving Congress

Originally published on Sun December 16, 2012 9:11 am

Indiana Republican Sen. Richard Lugar
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

The United States is now just over two weeks away from a plunge over the "fiscal cliff" — that is, unless Congress can agree on a deal to prevent automatic tax hikes and spending cuts in the new year. But once again, Congress seems headed for the brink.

That's been happening more and more in recent years. And it was noted sadly by a string of retiring senators as they were bidding their colleagues farewell this past week.

Daniel Akaka

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5:19am

Sat December 15, 2012
It's All Politics

Democrats Dig In Their Heels On Entitlement Cuts

Originally published on Sun December 16, 2012 1:43 pm

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said Democrats aren't going to throw America's seniors over the fiscal cliff to give a tax cut to the wealthiest.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Congress has barely two weeks to agree on a deficit-cutting deal to keep the nation from going over the "fiscal cliff" in the new year. The problem is that right now there is no such deal to agree on.

Republicans reject the higher tax rates for top incomes that President Obama demands. And they also insist on more austere entitlement programs, which has Democrats digging in their heels.

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6:16am

Sun December 9, 2012
Politics

Call It Want You Want, But It's Not A Debt Crisis

Originally published on Sun December 9, 2012 2:36 pm

It's widely known as the fiscal cliff, but some prominent Republicans have been calling it a "debt crisis." Economists agree such a crisis may be coming, but it's not here yet. Demographic changes are forcing a reckoning of how to pay for what people want from their government.

5:01pm

Thu December 6, 2012
Politics

Senator DeMint Leaving Congress To Head Think Tank

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 6:40 pm

Senator Jim DeMint on Thursday announced that he will not return to the new Congress, and instead will resign early next month. DeMint will instead lead the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

4:48am

Wed December 5, 2012
Politics

Senate Fails To Ratify U.N. Treaty On Disabilities

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 9:09 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And amid that budget debate, a wall of Republican opposition to a new United Nations treaty kept it from being ratified in the Senate. The treaty is aimed at promoting and protecting the rights of disabled people. And even though it was inspired by the Americans with Disabilities Act, Republicans argue that it would harm U.S. sovereignty and even interfere with home schooling. Here's NPR's David Welna.

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