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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5:18am

Thu August 1, 2013
Politics

For Once, Congress Plans To Go On Recess Without A Meltdown

Originally published on Thu August 1, 2013 10:23 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Good morning. This is likely the last day the Senate will be in session until mid-September. Tomorrow members of the House will lave town as well. They're heading out for their August recess with none of the frantic legislative scrambles and deal making that typically end a summer session. Instead, lawmakers seem to be saving their strength for epic battles when they get back. Here's NPR's David Welna.

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5:27am

Thu July 25, 2013
Politics

Another Senate Battle Looms Over Judicial Nominees

Originally published on Thu July 25, 2013 7:58 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

You could say another blockbuster battle is shaping up on Capitol Hill - over nominations. This one does not concern President Obama's executive branch appointments. That fight got settled at the 11th hour last week. This dispute is over judicial nominations, specifically over Obama's bid to fill three vacancies on the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. It's widely considered the nation's second most important court.

Yesterday, Republicans argued the court has enough judges already. NPR's David Welna reports.

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5:48am

Wed July 24, 2013
Politics

Hearing Gives Insight Into House Immigration Plans

Originally published on Wed July 24, 2013 11:59 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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4:56am

Sat July 20, 2013
Politics

After The Senate Filibuster Deal: Still 'Room For Bad Behavior'

Originally published on Sat July 20, 2013 4:48 pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks Tuesday on Capitol Hill. After a compromise, Reid stepped back from a threat to strip the Senate GOP minority of its right to filibuster executive branch nominees.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

It was the eve of a series of votes to end GOP filibusters of seven presidential appointees, and Democrats had vowed they would resort to the "nuclear option" and get rid of such filibusters altogether should any of those stalled nominees remain blocked.

All but two of the Senate's 100 members squeezed into the camera-free old chamber that the Senate used until just before the Civil War. Behind closed doors, they talked for more than three hours.

I buttonholed West Virginia Democrat Jay Rockefeller as he stepped out of that Monday night meeting.

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4:48am

Wed July 17, 2013
Politics

Senate Fails To Detonate 'Nuclear Option'

Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 5:08 am

Democrats had been preparing to change Senate rules on filibusters to push through President Obama's nominations to executive branch positions. Republicans agreed to allow votes on five nominations, and Democrats agreed to replace two particularly contentious names with others.

5:03pm

Tue July 16, 2013
Politics

Senate Democrats Back Off 'Nuclear Option' To End Filibusters

Originally published on Tue July 16, 2013 8:00 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. The Senate went to the brink of the so-called nuclear option but then, today, dialed it back. Senators struck a last minute deal in their fight over President Obama's nominations. Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid had threatened a rules change. It would've stripped the Republican minority of their ability to filibuster executive branch nominations. The deal reached this morning diffuses that threat, at least for now.

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5:06am

Tue July 16, 2013
Politics

Majority Leader Reid Moves Senate Closer To 'Nuclear Option'

Originally published on Tue July 16, 2013 6:22 am

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is preparing to push through contentious changes to filibuster rules, if Republicans do not agree to approve seven presidential nominations on Tuesday. Reid convened a closed meeting of all 100 senators Monday night to hash out the arguments ahead of the deadline.

5:29am

Fri July 12, 2013
Politics

Senate Democrats Fed Up With Filibusters On Nominations

Senate Democrats are once again threatening a rules change to allow President Obama to win approval for his executive branch appointments on a simple majority vote. Republicans complain that this strike against the filibuster is both unfair and a bad precedent.

4:53pm

Thu July 11, 2013
Politics

'Nuclear Option' Would End Filibusters For Appointments

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 5:55 pm

Senate Democrats appear so fed up enough by Republicans blocking President Obama's appointments that they are preparing to change Senate rules. The so-called "nuclear option" would end the use of the filibuster when it comes to appointments, dramatically diminishing the power of the minority party in the chamber.

5:00am

Thu July 11, 2013
Politics

House GOP Airs Their Differences Over Immigration Bill

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 12:13 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

The massive immigration bill passed in the Senate with bipartisan support is now facing a challenge in the House. The Republican speaker has served notice that he will not put any bill to a vote that doesn't have the support of a majority of Republicans. And yesterday, almost every House Republican crowded into a closed-door meeting in the basement of the Capitol to discuss the issue.

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