NPR's Ron Elving and Ken Rudin weigh in on President Obama leaving controversies like the IRS and the NSA behind as he attended the G-8 summit in Europe. Back in Washington, the House OKs a far-reaching 20-week abortion ban bill. And former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) raises eyebrows saying immigrants are "more fertile" than U.S.-born citizens.
The death penalty has become a bit like the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland. It may never fade away entirely, but capital punishment is certainly less visible or actively pursued than it used to be.
In May, Maryland became the sixth state in as many years to abolish the death penalty. Across the nation as a whole, fewer criminals are being put to death. Last year, 43 were executed, down significantly from the peak of 98 back in 1999.
The chances of an immigration overhaul bill getting through the Senate greatly improved on Thursday. A deal was reached on a border security plan. Steve Inskeep talks about the deal with two of the senators in the so-called "Gang of Eight," who are working on a bipartisan approach to immigration, Arizona Republican Jeff Flake and Illinois Democrat Richard Durbin.
Members of the House on Thursday rejected the measure, studded with Republican priorities. In the past, the farm bill has been a model of bipartisan support. But defections in both parties spelled the bill's doom.
This weekend marks 100 days until people can begin signing up for new health insurance coverage under the federal health care law. It also marks another milestone: the launch of an enormous public relations effort to find people eligible for new coverage and urge them to sign up when the time comes.
But like everything else about the health law, even this seemingly innocuous effort has been touched by controversy.
Comey, a registered Republican and longtime federal prosecutor, is best-known for raising alarms inside the Bush White House about a secret electronic surveillance program. That issue has taken on new resonance after disclosures about the Obama administration's dragnet collection of American phone records.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel. We begin this hour with what appears to be a major breakthrough in the Senate on immigration. The legislation has been stalled, as some senators complained that it did not do enough to secure the border with Mexico. Well, today, a compromise has been struck. It would nearly double the number of border patrol agents at the Mexican border.
The White House is planning a major new push on climate change. The initiative may include rules to limit emissions from existing power plants. That's a controversial move that environmentalists wanted for a long time. For more, NPR's Ari Shapiro joins us from the White House. And Ari, up until now, where has climate change been on the president's list of priorities, would you say?
The U.S. House defeated its version of the farm bill this afternoon. The bill would have cut the food stamps program and transformed subsidies for farmers from direct payments to crop insurance premium support. But Republicans lost 60 of their own members who voted no, along with most Democrats.
For a little more than a month now, we've been reporting on the IRS's flagging of Tea Party and conservative groups for extra scrutiny. Through it all, some basic questions remain: Who ordered the targeting? And why?
We don't have any satisfying answers to those questions yet — and it seems neither do the congressional investigators. But along the way, as new revelations have trickled out, we've noticed some surprising and even puzzling facts about the situation that haven't gotten much attention.