From NPR News, this is all things considered. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block.
Americans love a political comeback. When it comes to sex scandals, voters seem increasingly willing to forgive, if not forget. That's what former Congressman Anthony Weiner and former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford are hoping, as they attempt a return to public office.
But, as NPR's Joel Rose reports, both politicians face major hurdles.
Robert Siegel talks to Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma about why he voted no against the measure to expand background checks. The measure failed to get the 60 votes needed to pass in the Senate.
President Obama's nominee to head the Labor Department, Thomas Perez, appeared before a Senate committee today where he tried to portray himself as a bipartisan problem-solver who could listen to all sides. While the tone of the hearing was friendly, Perez faced some skeptical questions about a housing discrimination case he was involved with at the Justice Department.
If it seems perplexing why an idea that has broad support nationally could fail to pass the U.S. Senate, here's an important reminder: The Senate is not a democratic institution.
It never has been, and it was never designed to be. Rather, it was structured to give small or sparsely populated states the ability to stop the majority's will. And on Wednesday, that's how it worked out, as the Senate failed to reach a 60-vote threshold to support new background checks on gun purchases.
Following the Senate's rejection Wednesday of a range of gun control measures, including universal background checks, many in Newtown, Conn., are reacting with surprise and disappointment. The town is still stricken with grief from the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December that took the lives of 20 students and six adults.
On Thursday morning, Mike Cragin stopped by the Dunkin' Donuts in Newtown with his bulldog, Truman.
Bipartisan bonhomie broke out Thursday afternoon when four Democratic and four Republican senators made a case for their comprehensive immigration overhaul proposal.
The scene at the Dirksen Senate Office Building stood in marked contrast to the ugly end Wednesday of a smaller cross-party effort to fashion gun legislation that would have expanded background checks and banned assault-style weapons.
Angela Davis was once on the FBI's most wanted list. But decades after her brush with the law as a political activist, she remains a hero to some, and a villain to others. Host Michel Martin talks with Shola Lynch, the director of the new documentary Free Angela and All Political Prisoners.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Later in the program we will tell you about an up and coming emcee who's making a splash in Los Angeles and he's not somebody you might expect to see rocking the mic. That's just one of the stories NPR's new Code Switch team will be bringing you. We'll tell you more about that in just a few minutes.
Now, President Obama had promised to put the full weight of his office behind getting Congress to pass new gun control legislation. That weight was apparently not enough. When the legislation failed yesterday, Obama went into the White House Rose Garden and made a blistering speech, calling it a shameful day for Washington.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene.
We are following two major stories this morning. One is the fire and explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant. We'll have more on that in a moment.
INSKEEP: We begin with a victory for gun rights groups and a stinging defeat for gun control. Senate Republicans joined a small group of Democrats to reject every major gun control proposal President Obama has been pushing since the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.