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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4:36pm

Wed September 5, 2012
Presidential Race

Michelle Obama's DNC Speech Met With Rave Reviews

Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 5:56 pm

First Lady Michelle Obama gave a speech to the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday that was met by thunderous applause, emotional tears, and rave reviews.

4:46pm

Tue September 4, 2012
Election 2012

Dems Capitalize On Advantage With Hispanic Voters

Hispanics were a major focus of the program at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Democrats, beginning their convention in Charlotte, N.C., are hoping to capitalize on their current advantage with Hispanic voters.

5:20pm

Thu August 2, 2012
Politics

Eying Recess, Congress Leaves Behind Stack Of Bills

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 6:39 pm

With summer vacation beckoning on Friday, Congress tried to finish up some business on farm programs and other pressing matters — generally by delaying larger decisions until later.

5:32am

Thu August 2, 2012
NPR Story

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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7:52am

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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5:28pm

Wed July 25, 2012
Politics

Bush-Era Tax Cuts The Hot Topic Again In Congress

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 7:29 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. For all the partisan debate over tax cuts, extending them, ending them, changing the code, it's been a while since Congress has actually passed a tax-related measure. But, today, the Senate narrowly approved a proposal from President Obama. It would extend the Bush era tax cuts on household income up to a quarter million dollars.

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6:08pm

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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4:48am

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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