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.

Pages

Money & Politics
3:04 am
Mon June 18, 2012

'Citizens United' Case Gets Renewed Scrutiny

Critics say U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, shown in 2010, backtracked on previous pledges to give high priority to precedent in the Citizens United campaign finance case.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 18, 2012 9:50 am

As early as Monday, the Supreme Court could decide to revisit its landmark Citizens United ruling of two and a half years ago.

That case gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited amounts in political campaigns. Now, a Montana case could lead the high court to take a second look at Citizens United.

Meanwhile, the role of Chief Justice John Roberts in the case is also raising questions in Congress.

Read more
Parallel Lives
5:39 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

Romney As Governor: Confrontation, One Big Deal

Mitt Romney, then the governor-elect of Massachusetts, walks into the House chambers during inaugural ceremonies at the Statehouse in Boston, on Jan. 2, 2003.
Elise Amendola AP

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 1:30 pm

Whether President Obama or Republican Mitt Romney comes out on top in November, the man who occupies the Oval Office next year will bring exactly four years of experience as a top political executive.

Obama has gotten his experience in the White House; Romney got his as governor of Massachusetts, from 2003 to 2007.

Read more
Election 2012
6:57 pm
Thu May 31, 2012

Boston Takes Center Stage In Fight For White House

Mitt Romney shakes hands as he walks into the House Chambers during inaugural ceremonies at the State House in Boston in 2003. the Obama campaign sought to focus attention on Romney's tenure as Massachusetts governor.
Elise Amendola AP

Originally published on Thu May 31, 2012 10:58 pm

President Obama's re-election campaign is training some of its heaviest guns on a new target — the four years that GOP presidential challenger Mitt Romney served as governor of Massachusetts.

In Boston Thursday, David Axelrod, a top Obama campaign adviser, joined Democratic state legislators and mayors on the steps of the State House to lampoon Romney's record there as governor between 2003 and 2007.

Read more
It's All Politics
3:04 am
Tue May 29, 2012

Dire Predictions Amid Another Looming Fiscal Battle

Originally published on Tue May 29, 2012 11:27 am

There are growing warnings on Capitol Hill that the nation could be rolling toward an end-of-the-year fiscal train wreck.

"The looming tax hike will be absolutely devastating," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.

"You can call this a fiscal cliff. You can call it 'Taxmageddon' as others have done. Whatever you call it, it will be a disaster for the middle class," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, added.

And Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., said: "It's a tsunami; there's no question about it, and it's coming."

Read more
Presidential Race
4:52 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Romney Tries To Mend Fences With Latinos

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 7:22 pm

After a primary season of claiming the toughest stance against illegal immigration, Mitt Romney is trying to mend fences with the Latino community on Wednesday with a speech at a business group in Washington, D.C.

Politics
3:25 am
Wed May 23, 2012

U.S. Politicians See Opposite Messages In Euro Crisis

President Obama talks to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande (upper left), NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (center) and other leaders during the official photo at Soldier Field in Chicago during the NATO summit Sunday.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 8:41 am

European stock markets have rallied in anticipation of an informal summit of European Union leaders Wednesday in Brussels. A major policy pivot is expected to address the eurozone's debts and deficits crisis.

Up to now, European leaders have emphasized austerity, and that has cost some of them their jobs. The new approach is likely to focus on the same kind of growth President Obama has pursued in the United States — where Democrats and Republicans are drawing opposite conclusions from the euro crisis.

Read more
Election 2012
2:51 am
Fri May 11, 2012

Obama, Romney In The Ring For Nevada's Latino Vote

Caroline Maya, a 21-year-old college student, registers to vote for the first time at the Latinos for Obama booth outside the Grand Sierra Casino in Reno, Nev., Saturday.
David Welna NPR

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 7:10 am

President Obama is giving a speech about the economy Friday in Reno, Nev. It's his third trip to Nevada this year. In 2008, he won the state by 12 percentage points — in large part by getting more than three-quarters of the Latino vote.

Read more
Election 2012
6:34 am
Mon May 7, 2012

Paul Backers Outnumber Romney's At Nev. Convention

Originally published on Mon May 7, 2012 6:39 am

Mitt Romney is not the only Republican running for president. Congressman Ron Paul of Texas is still in the race. Over the weekend in Nevada, Paul supporters outnumber Romney backers at the state GOP convention in Sparks.

Presidential Race
7:27 am
Sun May 6, 2012

Presidential Race Takes Libertarian Tilt In Nev.

Originally published on Sun May 6, 2012 11:38 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And in case you missed it, the Libertarian Party held its national nominating convention in Las Vegas yesterday and chose a former Republican named Gary Johnson as its presidential nominee. Meanwhile, in Sparks, Nevada, supporters of Republican presidential contender Ron Paul dominated the state's GOP convention with Paul himself addressing the gathering. NPR's David Welna has more.

Read more
Election 2012
5:03 am
Sat April 28, 2012

Presidential Politics Hits The Hill, And Students Win

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, accompanied by fellow Republicans John Kline (left) of Minnesota and Jeb Hensarling of Texas, speaks about the student loan bill on Wednesday.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Sat April 28, 2012 12:22 pm

The general election campaign for president is springing to life, now that Mitt Romney is all but certain to be President Obama's Republican opponent next fall. On Capitol Hill, though, the battle over who will sign or veto Congress' bills next year is already blazing.

In two key votes this past week, many Republicans fell in step with candidate Romney and his quest for more support from younger voters and women.

Read more
U.S.
4:26 pm
Wed April 25, 2012

Senate Passes Plan To Keep Post Offices Running

Hikers arrive at the post office in Caratunk, Maine, in 2011. Some of the rural post offices the U.S. Postal Service may close are relied on by Appalachian Trail hikers for supply drops on their trip from Georgia to Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty AP

Originally published on Wed April 25, 2012 8:28 pm

The U.S. Postal Service is so much a part of this country, it's in the Constitution. And yet with so much written communication now delivered via email, text messages and the Internet, the Postal Service is steadily losing business and operating in the red.

Read more
Mitt Romney
6:11 pm
Wed April 18, 2012

With Eye On November, Romney To Expand Campaign

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks with a staffer on the night of the Florida primary in January. Now that he's pivoting away from the primaries to the general election, Romney is expected to quadruple his staff soon.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 6:41 pm

Now that he's all but certain to be the Republican challenging President Obama in November, Mitt Romney has begun to expand his operations. In the past week, he's named a top aide to head his vice presidential selection team, and his paid staff is expected to soon quadruple in size.

With the president's campaign well-staffed and spread across the map, it's become a game of catch-up for Romney.

There are Republican primary contests in five important states next Tuesday, but with Rick Santorum's departure from the race, they've gotten little attention.

Read more
It's All Politics
6:18 pm
Wed April 11, 2012

House Republican Allen West: '78 to 81' Congressional Democrats Are Communists

Rep. Allen West, R-Fla.
AP

Never one to shrink from controversy, Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., says he believes scores of his Democratic House colleagues are members of the Communist Party.

Read more
NPR Story
8:00 am
Sun March 25, 2012

Supreme Court Doesn't Budge On Push For Cameras

Not one second of the six hours of arguments on the health care law will be either seen or heard in real time by anyone not at the Supreme Court. The nation's highest court has turned down requests to allow live broadcasts of this week's historic proceedings.

Election 2012
4:00 am
Mon March 19, 2012

Statehood Debate Key As Romney Wins Puerto Rico

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

Read more
Presidential Race
8:00 am
Sun March 18, 2012

Puerto Rico Holds Primary With Statehood In Mind

Originally published on Sun March 18, 2012 9:57 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

The Republican presidential race could take yet another twist today in the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The four million people who live there are U.S. citizens and in today's primary, they'll help determine the next Republican nominee for the White House. The big issue in that contest is statehood, and that'll be on the ballot there in November. But the presidential race won't be because, first, Puerto Rico would have to become a state.

Read more
Election 2012
6:10 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

Even For Romney, Delegate Math Still A Problem

Mitt Romney waits to speak while being introduced Monday during a campaign stop in Mobile, Ala.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 13, 2012 5:48 pm

For many following the Republican presidential contest, the big question is who's winning.

That's not easily answered if you go only by who has won each state's primary or caucus. But if you measure who's won the most pledged convention delegates, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is clearly in the lead.

So much so, in fact, that Romney's campaign insists there's no way his rivals can catch up or keep him from getting the 1,144 delegates needed for securing the nomination in Tampa this summer during the Republican National Convention.

Read more
NPR Story
3:00 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

GOP Candidates Criticize Obama At U.S.-Israel Conference

The GOP presidential hopefuls addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington, D.C., on a day their campaigns battled in 10 state contests. Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich all criticized President Obama for his handling of Iran, and the president returned fire during an afternoon news conference.

Election 2012
4:58 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Romney Still Unable To Drive Away Opponents

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney shakes hands at a campaign rally at Capital University in Bexley, Ohio, on Wednesday.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 8:34 pm

Mitt Romney's decisive victory in Arizona on Tuesday won him every one of that state's 29 delegates in what was a winner-take-all election. But it was quite a different story in Michigan.

Even though Rick Santorum finished 3 percentage points behind Romney, Santorum ended up with the same amount of delegates: 15. That's because Michigan awards most of its delegates according to congressional districts.

Every one of the 10 states voting next week on Super Tuesday will also award delegates on a proportional basis.

Picking Up Delegates

Read more
Election 2012
6:14 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Ohio GOP Voters Could Hold Key On Super Tuesday

Prospective voters listen to Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, accompanied by his wife Callista, Feb. 7, 2012, at the Price Hill Chili Restaurant in Cincinnati.
Evan Vucci ASSOCIATED PRESS

Tuesday is the next big day for Republicans in choosing their presidential nominee, with primaries in Michigan and Arizona.

Then there's an even bigger day a week later: March 6 is this year's Super Tuesday, when 10 states hold primaries and caucuses. Possibly the most consequential one will be in the swing state of Ohio. It has 66 delegates at stake, and it will also be a key battleground in November.

Read more
Politics
5:58 am
Sat February 11, 2012

Religion And Birth Control: Not Just A GOP Fight

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Catholic up for re-election this year, was one of the Democrats who spoke out against the White House birth control policy before it was altered.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

President Obama moved swiftly Friday to quell a politically perilous uproar involving two hot-button issues: birth control and religious institutions.

In January, the Obama administration announced that under its health care law, religiously affiliated institutions such as hospitals and schools would have to include birth control in their employees' health coverage.

All this week, Republicans on Capitol Hill bashed that policy as a violation of religious freedom, and some of the president's fellow Democrats added to the heat.

'An Accommodation'

Read more
Politics
6:08 am
Sat February 4, 2012

'Buffett Rule' Becomes A Bill, And Congress Bickers

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, introduced legislation this week that would effectively raise taxes for most who earn more than $1 million annually.
Pete Marovich Getty Images

At last week's State of the Union address, the secretary of billionaire investor Warren Buffett was seated prominently with first lady Michelle Obama.

President Obama invited Debbie Bosanek to a seat in the spotlight to underscore a complaint her boss has widely made: that she pays a much higher tax rate than the 17 percent Buffett himself pays.

Read more
Politics
3:00 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Giffords Makes A Tearful Farewell

Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords took to the House floor Wednesday one last time to say good-bye, for now, to her colleagues. It was an emotional scene as she handed in her resignation, a little more than a year after being gravely injured in an assassination attempt.

Election 2012
4:58 pm
Fri January 13, 2012

The Ron Paul Paradox: GOP Questions His Impact

Ron Paul greets supporters in Meredith, N.H., on Sunday, two days before he placed second in the state's Republican primary.
Stephan Savoia Associated Press

Originally published on Fri January 13, 2012 10:08 pm

Four years ago, Texas Rep. Ron Paul finished fifth in the New Hampshire presidential primary with just under 8 percent of the vote.

On Tuesday, he got nearly 23 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary, finishing second to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the Republican contest. That came a week after Paul's third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses.

Read more
It's All Politics
12:01 am
Thu January 12, 2012

Some At RNC Meeting Say It's Romney's Race To Lose

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney greets supporters during a campaign rally in Columbia, S.C., on Wednesday.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 12, 2012 10:39 am

The annual winter meeting of the Republican National Committee got under way in New Orleans on Wednesday, just hours after Mitt Romney won New Hampshire's Republican presidential primary.

Read more
The Two-Way
1:49 pm
Sat December 17, 2011

Senate OKs Two More Months For Payroll Tax Cut

"It would be inexcusable for Congress not to further extend this middle-class tax cut for the rest of the year," Obama said after the Senate passed a two-month extension on the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Sat December 17, 2011 9:53 pm

The U.S. Senate wrapped up a tumultuous year of divided government with votes that keep the federal government funded through September and extend expiring unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut another two months.

In a rare Saturday year-end session, the Senate's action averted a shutdown but was not the last word on the payroll tax cut extension.

Read more
Inside NPR.org
1:32 pm
Sat December 17, 2011

Senate OKs Two More Months For Payroll Tax Cut

The U.S. Senate wrapped up a tumultuous year of divided government with votes that keep the federal government funded through September and extend expiring unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut another two months.

In a rare Saturday year-end session, the Senate's action averted a shutdown but was not the last word on the payroll tax cut extension.

Read more
U.S.
5:43 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

Congress Won't Recess To Block Obama Appointments

The U.S. Capitol is seen above in 2009 as senators worked late into the night on legislation. The light signifying that Congress is in session may remain on this holiday season as well, since House Republicans have said they will remain in a pro-forma session.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Sat December 10, 2011 6:45 am

Senate Republicans blocked confirmation votes on two of President Obama's most high-profile nominees this week — one for a seat on a federal appeals court, the other to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Traditionally, the end-of-the-year holidays have allowed presidents to bypass Congress and give such thwarted nominees recess appointments. But an angry President Obama is quickly leaning that this might not be the case this year.

Read more
Politics
5:06 am
Wed December 7, 2011

How Payroll Tax Cut Affects Social Security's Future

President Obama put Congress on notice Tuesday in a speech in Osawatomie, Kan.

He said that unless a temporary payroll tax cut is extended this month, 160 million Americans would see their taxes go up next year by an average of $1,000. But there's concern on both sides of the political aisle that the payroll tax holiday might be undermining the solvency of Social Security.

Read more
Politics
4:09 pm
Fri November 25, 2011

Even Lawmakers Ask: Does Anyone Like Congress?

A dark cloud passes over the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Many lawmakers fear that Congress' already low approval rating will sink even further after the failure of the supercommittee.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Fri November 25, 2011 4:55 pm

Read more

Pages