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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Politics
5:21 am
Sun September 16, 2012

Congress Bets On Post-Election Edge, Delaying Action

Originally published on Sun September 16, 2012 7:36 am

Congress roared into town last week after a five-week break. Lawmakers will be heading back home just as quickly this week. They're expected to complete exactly one big item before pulling the plug on this briefest of sessions: a stopgap spending measure that keeps the government from shutting down during the next six months.

Members of both parties prefer tackling the mountain of unfinished business they leave behind only after the November election.

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Election 2012
4:40 am
Fri September 7, 2012

Thousands Of Shut-Outs Watch Obama Speech On TV

Originally published on Fri September 7, 2012 9:15 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

Speaking to the Democratic Convention last night, President Obama spoke a line that played off a famous speech by John F. Kennedy. Kennedy said people should ask what they can do for their country.

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Election 2012
4:24 am
Thu September 6, 2012

First Lady Urges Delegates To Round Up Voters

Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 9:17 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And after delivering a tribute to her husband on the opening night at the Democratic National Convention, First Lady Michelle Obama yesterday by reaching out to groups of minority delegates there in Charlotte. NPR's David Welna reports.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Let's give a rousing welcome for the first lady, Michelle Obama.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: The African-American caucus was fired up yesterday when Mrs. Obama got there just hours after she brought down the house at the convention arena. She was still getting going.

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NPR Story
4:32 am
Thu August 2, 2012

Back To The Debt Debacle: A Look At What's Changed

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 10:53 am

It was just a year ago that the House rejected a deal with President Obama and threatened to allow the U.S. to default on debt obligations coming due. The Tea Party refusal to raise the debt ceiling led to a downgrade in U.S. credit and a selloff in the markets. NPR's David Welna reports on what's changed since then and what hasn't.

Election 2012
4:59 am
Sun July 29, 2012

Does Sen. Thune Have The Right Stuff For Romney?

Mitt Romney gets a kick out of South Dakota Sen. John Thune's comments during a January rally in Dubuque, Iowa.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 30, 2012 10:47 am

Mike Lee is one of the most conservative members of the Senate. The freshman Utah Republican was elected with strong Tea Party backing and, like Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, he's a man of the West.

Mention the possibility that Thune, 51, might team up with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and Lee's eyes light up: "I love John," he says. "He's articulate, passionate, collegial. I mean ... I think he'd be great."

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Election 2012
4:56 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Portman A Low-Key Possibility For GOP Running Mate

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, campaigns with Mitt Romney in Cincinnati on Feb. 20.
Mark Lyons Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 2:34 pm

As the guessing game continues about Mitt Romney's choice of a running mate, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman invariably comes up as a top contender. And with a wealth of experience in Washington and beyond, Portman would be considered a safe pick to run for vice president on the Republican ticket.

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The Two-Way
5:41 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

House Spending Bill Would Slash $6 Billion From Federal Budget

House Republicans today released a preliminary spending bill that would slash more than six billion dollars from the budgets of the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education.The draft bill also bans NPR member stations from using federal funds to buy NPR programming.

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Politics
4:29 am
Tue July 17, 2012

Democrats' Efforts To Reveal GOP Donors Stymied

Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 11:17 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Once again, a push by Democrats to force outside campaign spending groups to reveal their big hidden donors has been stymied. Last night for the second time, Senate Republicans closed ranks and blocked legislation on what's known as the Disclose Act. And as it happens, that legislation would've affected groups that are a key source of spending this year, favoring Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. NPR's David Welna explains.

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Presidential Race
2:17 am
Fri July 13, 2012

Why Would Romney Bury Treasure In Bermuda?

The Thistle House in Hamilton, Bermuda, is listed as the address of Mitt Romney's Bermuda corporation.
David Welna NPR

Originally published on Fri July 13, 2012 10:04 am

New questions about Mitt Romney's overseas investments have dogged the GOP presidential contender all week. Many arose from a report in the latest issue of Vanity Fair. It describes how the day before Romney was sworn in as governor of Massachusetts, he put a corporation he'd set up in Bermuda in a blind trust held by his wife, Ann. Romney insists he did nothing wrong.

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Politics
2:05 am
Thu July 5, 2012

Ohio Senator Vulnerable For Health Law Support

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown speaks in Columbus, Ohio, in May. Brown, who is up for re-election this year, says he wakes up every day "trying to figure out how to create jobs."
Mark Duncan AP

Originally published on Thu July 5, 2012 9:25 pm

President Obama hits the campaign trail Thursday with a bus tour in Ohio. The state is a crucial battleground not only for the presidential election, but also because it could decide whether Democrats keep control of the Senate.

Up for re-election there is Democrat Sherrod Brown, who is being challenged by the state's Republican treasurer, Josh Mandel. Mandel is highlighting Brown's staunch support of the new health care law — with a big assist from outside groups.

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Politics
3:13 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Republicans Say Health Care Fight Still Has Life

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 6:32 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Across the street at the Capitol, lawmakers lined up to issue their reactions to the court's ruling upholding the health care law. Democrats celebrated what for many of them was an unexpected victory. Republicans denounced the decision and vowed to repeal the law.

NPR's David Welna has that story.

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Politics
4:20 am
Fri June 22, 2012

Senate Strips Public Funds From Party Conventions

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 6:54 am

Later this summer, Republicans will gather in Tampa, Fla., for their presidential nominating convention; Democrats will then do the same in Charlotte, N.C. Each party gets more than $18 million in public funds this year to help pay for the gatherings.

The money comes from that $3 box that taxpayers can check on their federal tax returns. But this could be the last time party conventions get taxpayer funding.

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Election 2012
5:24 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

Hill Republicans Tight-Lipped On Immigration Change

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio (left) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Capitol Hill in February. Republicans have been quick to criticize the president for bypassing Congress with his immigration action, but they've been unusually silent on the policy itself.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 7:00 pm

Nearly a week has gone by since President Obama announced a new immigration policy that could halt the deportation of some 800,000 young people brought to the country illegally.

While Republicans on Capitol Hill were quick to criticize the president for bypassing Congress, they've been unusually silent on the question of whether these illegal immigrants should be getting such a break.

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Parallel Lives
12:00 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Obama And Congress: Bipartisanship Talk Met Reality

President Obama addresses a joint session of Congress while delivering his State of the Union speech in 2011. During his first two years in office, Obama used big Democratic majorities in Congress to muscle through major legislation, but since the 2010 midterm elections, he's increasingly been stymied by a wall of GOP opposition.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 5:59 pm

From now until November, President Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney will emphasize their differences. But the two men's lives actually coincide in a striking number of ways. That includes struggling with their respective legislatures. Earlier, NPR's David Welna explored Romney's time as governor of Massachusetts. In this installment of "Parallel Lives," a look at Obama and Congress.

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Money & Politics
2:04 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 8:50 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.

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Parallel Lives
4:56 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 12:30 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.

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Election 2012
6:09 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 9:58 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.

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It's All Politics
2:04 am
Tue May 29, 2012

Dire Predictions Amid Another Looming Fiscal Battle

Originally published on Tue May 29, 2012 10:27 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."

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Politics
2:25 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 7:41 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.

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Economy
5:47 am
Wed May 16, 2012

Debt Ceiling Debate Is Revived In Washington

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

If you thought the two political parties had moved past their differences over the debt ceiling, think again.

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Election 2012
1:51 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 6:10 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.

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Election 2012
5:39 am
Mon May 7, 2012

Ron Paul Backers Dominate Nevada's GOP Convention

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
6:27 am
Sun May 6, 2012

Presidential Race Takes Libertarian Tilt In Nev.

Originally published on Sun May 6, 2012 10:38 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.

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Election 2012
4:03 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 11:22 am

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.

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U.S.
3:26 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 7:28 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.

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Mitt Romney
5:11 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 5:41 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.

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It's All Politics
5:18 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.

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Media
7:00 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
3:00 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.

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Presidential Race
7:00 am
Sun March 18, 2012

Puerto Rico Holds Primary With Statehood In Mind

Originally published on Sun March 18, 2012 8:57 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.

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