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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Inside NPR.org
12:32 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.

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U.S.
4:43 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 5:45 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.

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Politics
4:06 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.

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Politics
3:09 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 3:55 pm

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Governing
4:08 pm
Thu November 17, 2011

GOP Supercommittee Members Consider Tax Increase

Grover Norquist, president of the taxpayer advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform
Haraz N. Ghanbari AP

The congressional deficit-reduction supercommittee must agree before Thanksgiving to slice more than $1 trillion from projected deficits, or that money will be cut automatically from future budgets.

The fundamental divide between the panel's six Democrats and six Republicans has been over whether tax revenues should come into play. And with less than a week to go before the deadline, some Republicans are considering new tax revenue. But even the hint of compromise on that issue is dividing Republicans on Capitol Hill.

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Politics
11:01 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Keynes' Consuming Ideas On Economic Intervention

The ideas of John Maynard Keynes, seen here around 1940, had great influence over the economic policies that followed the Great Depression and World War II.
Walter Stoneman Getty Images

The last in a three-part series on thinkers who have had a lasting influence on economic policymakers. Other stories featured Ayn Rand and Friedrich Hayek.

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Politics
4:18 am
Sun November 13, 2011

Senate Democrats Challenge Defense Of Marriage Act

What Congress does, sometimes it later tries to undo. That's what happened a few days ago, when the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a measure repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.

Under DOMA, the federal government is bound to recognize only those marriages between a man and a woman. When the law passed 15 years ago, not one state recognized same-sex marriage. Six do so now, as well as the District of Columbia. But the effort to overturn DOMA faces stiff resistance from congressional Republicans.

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Politics
2:00 pm
Thu November 10, 2011

Senate Panel Votes To Repeal Marriage Act

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, host: Fifteen years ago, Congress overwhelmingly approved the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. It said, while each state could decide how to define marriage, the federal government would only recognize the legal union of a man and a woman.

Since then, more than 130,000 same-sex couples have legally married in the U.S. and today, a congressional committee passed the very first measure to repeal DOMA. NPR's David Welna reports.

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Politics
3:41 am
Wed November 9, 2011

GOP Wants Pentagon Protected From Automatic Cuts

Originally published on Thu November 10, 2011 7:44 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Counting down, it is now exactly two weeks before the clock runs out for Congress's supercommittee. If its six Democrats and six Republicans fail to reduce deficits by more than a trillion dollars, automatic spending cuts will kick in. Under this process, known as sequestration, the law would require half the cuts to come from defense spending. NPR's David Welna reports.

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Politics
3:00 am
Wed October 26, 2011

Supercommittee Reconvenes On Deficit Reductions

The deficit-cutting supercommittee re-emerges Wednesday morning with its first public meeting in more than a month. The group is charged with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions by late November. If it fails, automatic, across-the-board cuts follow.

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