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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3:05am

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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5:20am

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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1:22pm

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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6:57pm

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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