David Welna

David Welna is NPR's congressional correspondent.

Serving in this role since the final days of the Clinton administration and primarily following the Senate, Welna reports on many issues he covered earlier in his career reporting both inside and outside of the United States. In addition he's covered the September 11, 2001 attacks, the wars that followed, and the economic downturn and recession. Prior to this position, Welna covered the 2000 presidential election and the post-election vote count battle in Florida.

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 are putting pressures on small farmers, how foreign conflicts and economic crises affect people 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 mass exodus of Cubans who fled the island on rafts in 1994, the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Mexico, and the US 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, Welna 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 and distinction in Latin American Studies. He speaks fluent Spanish, French, and Portuguese.

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3:21am

Sun June 2, 2013
It's All Politics

Ted Cruz: 'The New Voice' Of The GOP?

Originally published on Sun June 2, 2013 8:56 am

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, accompanied by Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., speaks during a news conference with Tea Party leaders on May 16. Bachmann, chairwoman of the Tea Party Caucus, announced this week she won't seek re-election. Meanwhile, Cruz's fortunes continue to soar.
Molly Riley AP

On the same day this week that House Tea Party Caucus co-founder Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., announced she won't seek re-election, the fortunes of another Tea Party favorite continued to soar.

Freshman GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas headlined a big fundraiser thrown by the New York Republican Party in the heart of Manhattan. More than 600 Republicans gathered to write checks to their struggling party, which has no statewide officeholders.

But it was not exactly a welcoming committee that awaited Cruz outside the Grand Hyatt hotel.

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12:56am

Wed May 29, 2013
It's All Politics

Immigration Measure Faces Test In Senate, Rival Bill In House

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 8:47 am

A bill proposed by the Senate's Gang of Eight (from left, Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.; John McCain, R-Ariz.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Bob Menendez, D-N.J.; Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; and Michael Bennet, D-Colo.) has passed out of committee and is headed for the full Senate. But the fate of the issue in the House is less clear.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Members of Congress are back in their home states this week for a Memorial Day recess. It's a chance to talk with constituents about what could become the year's biggest legislative story: the push on Capitol Hill to fix what Democrats and Republicans alike agree is a broken immigration system.

A bill proposed by the Gang of Eight, a bipartisan group of senators, to revamp the nation's immigration rules passed out of committee last week and will soon be brought before the Democratic-led Senate. Less clear, though, is where the issue is headed in the GOP-controlled House.

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3:20pm

Wed May 22, 2013
It's All Politics

Fears Of Killing Immigration Bill Doomed Same-Sex Amendment

Originally published on Wed May 22, 2013 4:40 pm

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. (center), listens to testimony during a hearing on the immigration bill on April 22.
Andrew Harnik The Washington Times/Landov

After five marathon sessions debating 150 proposed amendments, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a landmark rewriting of the nation's immigration laws this week — and the bill emerged largely intact.

Three Republicans voted with the panel's 10 Democrats on Tuesday night to forward the bill to the full Senate. That strong showing followed a wrenching choice for Democrats on the committee: whether to risk shattering support for the bill by amending it to recognize equal rights for same-sex couples.

How It Played Out

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3:13am

Sat May 18, 2013
It's All Politics

Immigration Bill Chugs Along, But Some See Deal-Breakers

Originally published on Sat May 18, 2013 5:23 am

The Senate Judiciary Committee meets to work on immigration legislation on May 9.
Michael Reynolds EPA/Landov

It's been a long slog already for the bipartisan immigration overhaul proposed by the Senate's Gang of Eight.

The legislation has been the target of more than 300 amendments during days of debate and votes by the Senate Judiciary Committee. But while the bill has largely held its own so far, its prospects for getting through Congress remain uncertain.

In Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy's view, the immigration overhaul is "moving very well."

"It's moving a lot faster than people said it would," says Leahy, a Vermont Democrat.

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6:10am

Fri May 10, 2013
Politics

Immigration Bill Remains Largely Intact After 1st Hearing

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. Let's get an update now on one of this year's major policy debates. There is an immigration bill under consideration. The law, if passed, has the potential to be a major success story for President Obama and for the bipartisan group of lawmakers who drafted it. Opponents of the bill have major concerns about how it treats people who came to the U.S. illegally, and also about how much the law would cost.

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4:12pm

Tue May 7, 2013
It's All Politics

Congressional Hearings Put Renewed Focus On Benghazi Attack

Originally published on Tue May 7, 2013 8:56 pm

It has been nearly eight months since attacks on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

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2:41am

Fri May 3, 2013
Politics

Gun Background Vote Causes Heat At Home For N.H. Sen. Ayotte

Originally published on Fri May 3, 2013 10:14 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

After any contentious debate in Washington, it's often interesting to see how a lawmaker is welcomed home, depending on how he or she voted. Some of the senators who voted down bipartisan gun control legislation last month are taking heat in the aftermath of December's mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the state of Connecticut. The bill would have expanded background checks, and the only New England senator who opposed it was New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte. NPR's David Welna traveled to her state and sent this report.

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9:19am

Tue April 30, 2013
U.S.

Obama Answers Questions On Syria, Guantanamo, More

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 1:27 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Let's talk about President Obama's news conference this morning on the 100th day of his second term. NPR's David Welna has been listening in this morning. Hi, David.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: The president was immediately asked about the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

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3:34am

Tue April 23, 2013
Politics

Boston Case Casts Shadow Over Capitol Hill Immigration Hearing

Originally published on Tue April 23, 2013 3:46 am

The Senate Judiciary Committee turned its attention back to the immigration overhaul proposal Monday, even as opponents began to use the Boston bombers' journey to the United States as a cautionary tale.

2:42am

Wed April 10, 2013
Politics

Immigration Protesters Aim For Rally To Motivate Lawmakers

Originally published on Wed April 10, 2013 5:20 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now, here in Washington they are calling it the All-In for Citizenship rally. Tens of thousands of demonstrators are expected today on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. It's to be the biggest event yet in the push to revamp the nation's immigration laws. And congressional negotiators say they are close to unveiling a comprehensive immigration bill. NPR's David Welna tells us how close.

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1:23am

Mon April 8, 2013
It's All Politics

Some Gun Control Opponents Cite Fear Of Government Tyranny

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 9:35 am

Hundreds of gun owners and enthusiasts attend a rally at the Connecticut Capitol in Hartford on Jan. 19.
Rick Hartford MCT/Landov

As the Senate returns from a two-week spring recess Monday, topping its agenda is legislation to try to curb the kind of gun violence that took the lives of 20 first-graders in Connecticut last December.

Recent polls show broad popular support for enhanced background checks and bans on military-style guns and ammunition. But many members of Congress side with gun-rights advocates who oppose such measures.

And those advocates are increasingly making the case that Americans need guns to fight government tyranny.

'A Fringe Idea' Goes Mainstream

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5:32am

Sat March 23, 2013
Same-Sex Marriage And The Supreme Court

The Senators Who Oppose DOMA, Despite Having OK'd It

Originally published on Sat March 23, 2013 10:53 am

Supreme Court justices will hear arguments Tuesday on California's Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage. On Wednesday they'll hear arguments on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

The soul-searching over the Defense of Marriage Act went viral last week after Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, a social conservative and original co-sponsor of the 1996 bill, sought out CNN to say something no one saw coming.

Portman said he'd decided to oppose DOMA and support same-sex marriage, two years after learning his college-age son was gay.

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3:14am

Sat March 16, 2013
It's All Politics

Ted Cruz: From Texas Underdog To Republican Up-And-Comer

Originally published on Sat March 16, 2013 5:48 am

Texas Republican Ted Cruz, then senator-elect, speaks to reporters before a freshman senators luncheon on Nov. 13.
Harry Hamburg AP

The keynote speaker at Saturday night's closing session of the Conservative Political Action Conference is a 42-year-old Texan who's been a U.S. senator since January.

In that short time, Tea Party Republican Ted Cruz has already made a mark — and in doing so, he's simply ignored a tradition of new senators being seen, not heard. Cruz's sharp elbows have some colleagues wincing and others hoping he'll run for president.

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11:36am

Fri March 1, 2013
It's All Politics

5 Dates To Watch In Budget Showdown

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 12:06 pm

President Obama speaks to reporters Friday at the White House after he met with congressional leaders regarding the sequester. "Even with these cuts in place, folks all across this country will work hard to make sure that we keep the recovery going," said Obama. "But Washington sure isn't making it easy."
Charles Dharapak AP

Friday's deadline for President Obama to issue a sequestration order is neither the beginning nor the end of this year's budget battles in Washington. Here are five key moments to watch over the next seven months, and what's at stake in each:

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4:31am

Thu February 28, 2013
Politics

Democrats Move To Reinstate Assault Weapons Ban

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 10:04 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne.

A hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday included tears, cheers and a recording of bursts of gunfire. It was all part of a new push by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to reinstate a ban on assault weapons, a ban that expired nearly a decade ago.

NPR's David Welna was there.

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1:03am

Thu February 21, 2013
It's All Politics

Meet The Virginian Shaping The House GOP's Immigration Plan

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 6:24 am

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., checks his phone before a hearing on Capitol Hill in September.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Comprehensive immigration reform seems to top everyone's legislative wish list this year, and bills are already taking shape in the White House and the Democratic-led Senate.

A bipartisan group of senators recently laid out a path to citizenship for millions living in the country unlawfully. Less clear is where the Republican-led House is headed on immigration.

Read more

1:43am

Tue February 12, 2013
Politics

Sen. Rubio's Response Gives GOP A Chance To Woo Hispanics

Originally published on Tue February 12, 2013 6:44 am

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during a fundraiser in Altoona, Iowa, on Nov. 17. He is delivering the GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Republican leaders have tapped Marco Rubio, a 41-year-old Cuban-American senator from Florida, to deliver the official GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night.

It's a chance for a party that has fared badly with both young and Hispanic voters to showcase a fast-rising, youthful Latino with a new stance on immigration.

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3:18pm

Wed February 6, 2013
It's All Politics

Even In Blue Minnesota, Gun Control Seems A Tough Sell

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 6:36 pm

Gun rights advocate Andy Cers of Minneapolis listens to testimony during a Minnesota House hearing on gun violence bills Tuesday in St. Paul.
Jim Mone AP

Minnesota has a Democratic governor, two Democratic senators, and Democrats control both houses of its Legislature. So it may have come as no surprise when President Obama went there earlier this week to rally support for his proposals to reduce gun violence.

But even in the politically blue state, there's considerable resistance to placing further restrictions on gun ownership.

During his visit to a Minneapolis police facility Monday, Obama urged Minnesotans to find common ground in curbing gun violence.

Read more

4:26am

Tue February 5, 2013
Politics

In Minn., Obama Appeals For Movement On Gun Background Checks

Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 11:47 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, on the same as that funeral, President Obama continued his push for tougher gun laws. He was talking yesterday in Minneapolis on a subject he is expected to address in next week's State of the Union speech.

NPR's David Welna reports.

Read more

4:11pm

Fri February 1, 2013
It's All Politics

What's Behind Rubio's 'Full Circle Back' On Immigration?

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 5:17 pm

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, is among a bipartisan group of eight senators who this week announced a plan to overhaul the nation's immigration laws.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Marco Rubio has been the junior senator from Florida for barely two years, but he's already considered a likely 2016 presidential contender.

The 41-year-old Republican's political star rose still higher this week when he joined a bipartisan group of senators offering a path to citizenship to millions of unauthorized immigrants.

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