David Welna

David Welna is NPR's congressional correspondent.

Serving in this role since the final days of the Clinton administration and primarily following the Senate, Welna reports on many issues he covered earlier in his career reporting both inside and outside of the United States. In addition he's covered the September 11, 2001 attacks, the wars that followed, and the economic downturn and recession. Prior to this position, Welna covered the 2000 presidential election and the post-election vote count battle in Florida.

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 are putting pressures on small farmers, how foreign conflicts and economic crises affect people 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 mass exodus of Cubans who fled the island on rafts in 1994, the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Mexico, and the US 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, Welna 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 and distinction in Latin American Studies. He speaks fluent Spanish, French, and Portuguese.

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3:23am

Mon October 14, 2013
Politics

How The Debt Limit Became 'A Nuclear-Tipped Leverage Point'

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 6:14 pm

Congress set a limit on how much debt the U.S. Treasury could accrue back in 1917.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Political battles over the debt limit have been around nearly as long as the law passed by Congress in 1917 that set a statutory limit for how much debt the Treasury could accrue.

Since then, Congress has had to increase that limit on more than 100 occasions — and 40 of those times, lawmakers have tried to tie strings to raising the debt ceiling. In the last few years, though, there's been a marked escalation in those demands.

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7:36am

Sat October 12, 2013
Politics

Obamacare Drops Off The Shutdown Script

Originally published on Sat October 12, 2013 8:05 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Both the Senate and the House are meeting today for the second Saturday in a row. It's Day 12 of the government shutdown and Republican lawmakers are so far getting much of the blame for the lapse in federal funding that caused the shutdown. But they appear to have dropped their central demand of the budget standoff, a dismantling or delay of the Affordable Care Act. NPR's David Welna reports.

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4:37am

Tue October 8, 2013
Politics

Democrats Focus Government Shutdown Blame On Boehner

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 8:26 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

And the partial government shutdown has brought intense attention to House speaker John Boehner. He's working to keep Republicans united in a battle against President Obama.

INSKEEP: People close to Boehner have made it clear he did not want this fight. But urged by other lawmakers, Boehner dug in, insisting that President Obama must negotiate.

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4:55am

Mon October 7, 2013
Politics

GOP's History Of Resistance To Social Welfare Programs

Originally published on Mon October 7, 2013 5:22 am

A partial shutdown of the federal government is now in its seventh day. At the heart of the impasse is a political battle. For the government to re-open, Republicans are insisting on big changes to President Obama's signature health care law. This is not the first time there's been GOP resistance to a new social welfare program that was advocated and signed into law by a Democratic president.

6:05pm

Thu October 3, 2013
Around the Nation

Car Chase Ends On Capitol Hill, Shots Reported

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 11:38 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. This afternoon, a car chase through the heart of Washington D.C. ended with shots fired near the Capitol. Details are sketchy, but we know that around 2:00 this afternoon, authorities began pursuit of a suspect by car near the White House. That chase ended on Capitol Hill with members of Congress in their offices hearing shots fired outside.

Here's Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine, speaking minutes ago.

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3:05am

Thu October 3, 2013
It's All Politics

Reid's Tough Tactics In Shutdown Drama Draw Notice

Originally published on Thu October 3, 2013 12:53 pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pauses outside the West Wing of the White House after meeting Wednesday with President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

As the leader of Senate Democrats, Harry Reid has been in a lot of fights — but this one may be different, in that Reid has drawn a line.

Throughout the weeks leading up to the shutdown, through four votes in the Senate with not a single defection from the Democratic caucus, and once again after the meeting at the White House, Reid has rejected any of the changes in the Affordable Care Act that House Republicans have demanded as a condition for funding the federal government.

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4:39am

Tue October 1, 2013
Politics

House, Senate Stay Faithful To Their Measures

Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 6:35 am

Before parts of the government began shutting down, the House and Senate bounced a series of stopgap spending bills between the chambers. The House would insert language to delay or limit the president's health care law, and the Senate would reject the Obamacare language and send the bill back. The two chambers did not reach an agreement before the midnight deadline.

4:51pm

Thu September 26, 2013
Politics

Outside The Senate, DeMint Appears More Powerful Than Ever

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 9:12 pm

Jim DeMint, president of the Heritage Foundation, says he has more influence now than he did as a senator.
Evan Vucci AP

Congress has been getting most of the attention during this latest round of budget brinksmanship. But some of the biggest players in the debate have been outside conservative groups with close ties to Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Perhaps the most influential voice is also a soft-spoken one. It belongs to former South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, who now heads the Heritage Foundation.

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4:35am

Wed September 25, 2013
Politics

Senate More Than Likely To Keep Obamacare Intact

Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 6:25 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Good morning. Let's catch up on the Senate's fight over Obamacare. A handful of Republican senators say they support a plan to deny funding to the Affordable Care Act. They want to attach that to a larger measure designed to keep the rest of the government running and avoid a partial shutdown at the end of the month.

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7:46am

Sat September 21, 2013
Politics

Benghazi Attacks Still Resonate On Capitol Hill

Originally published on Sat September 21, 2013 11:34 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

It's been a little more than a year since four Americans died during attacks on U.S. installations in Benghazi, Libya. Many congressional hearings have delved into the matter almost always at the behest of Republicans. But this week it was Democrats, and the House Government and Oversight Committee who demanded the latest session on Benghazi. It featured the two lead investigators of an independent report on that episode testifying for the first time in public about their conclusions.

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