Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep talks with Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss about the prospects of negotiating a bipartisan plan to avert the fiscal cliff and whether lawmakers can reach an agreement over how to raise revenue. Chambliss was a member of the Gang of Six, a bipartisan group of senators that has tried in the past to reach a long-term deal to reduce the deficit.
After an election in which Hispanics voted overwhelmingly for President Obama, the White House and Republicans on Capitol Hill are making overtures about immigration reform.
House Speaker John Boehner says he's sure he can make a deal next year with the White House on a comprehensive bill. A steady procession of prominent GOP leaders are warning that Republicans won't win the White House again without improving their outreach to Latino voters. On Monday, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio explained the problem this way.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
I'm Melissa Block. And we begin this hour with talk of immigration reform. Dealing with the estimated 12 million immigrants now in the U.S. illegally has long been a priority, primarily of Democrats. Three weeks ago, Latinos voted overwhelmingly for President Obama. As NPR's David Welna reports, Senate Republicans weighed in today, unveiling legislation that would give some undocumented immigrants a path to legal status.
Of the 50 million Hispanics in the U.S., nearly two-thirds are of Mexican origin. The second largest group - accounting for about 9 percent - are the nearly five million Puerto Ricans who live in the 50 states and the District of Columbia - that is, not on the island of Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens. The island has been a U.S. territory since the Spanish-American War.
U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, touted as a possible successor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, went to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to meet with a small group of Republican Senate critics. They are unhappy with comments Rice made on TV shortly after the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where the ambassador and three others died. They say she incorrectly characterized the violence as a response to an anti-Islam video. After the closed-door meeting, the senators said they were more troubled than ever, and one promised to block her potential nomination.
On Wednesday, President Obama will meet with middle-class Americans who will be affected by a tax increase if the country goes over the fiscal cliff. The White House put out a call for their stories last week.
That dialogue with the American people is part of a broader White House effort to keep campaign supporters engaged during Obama's second term. It's a big change from the first term — and it's not an easy undertaking.
There has not been a wave of defections by Republicans who signed on to his "no new taxes" pledge and even the few who have spoken about possibly going along with revenue increases won't do so in the end, anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist told NPR Tuesday.
After meeting with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice this morning, three key Republican senators emerged to say they're more troubled — not less — by what they say were intelligence failures and misleading information concerning the September attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, which left four Americans dead.
One, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said it's too soon to even be speculating about promoting Rice to be secretary of state.