Frank James

Frank James joined NPR News in April 2009 to launch the blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Mark Memmott.

"The Two-Way" is the place where NPR.org gives readers breaking news and analysis — and engages users in conversations ("two-ways") about the most compelling stories being reported by NPR News and other news media.

James came to NPR from the Chicago Tribune, where he worked for 20 years. In 2006, James created "The Swamp," the paper's successful politics and policy news blog whose readership climbed to a peak of 3 million page-views a month.

Before that, James covered homeland security, technology and privacy and economics in the Tribune's Washington Bureau. He also reported for the Tribune from South Africa and covered politics and higher education.

James also reported for The Wall Street Journal for nearly 10 years.

James received a bachelor of arts degree in English from Dickinson College and now serves on its board of trustees.

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6:38am

Fri October 4, 2013
It's All Politics

Friday Morning Political Mix

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 7:16 am

Anti-Obama demonstrators in Indonesia will have to hold their protests without him. He cancelled his Asian trip due to the U.S. government shutdown. (Their signs accused him of murdering Muslims.)
BAY ISMOYO AFP/Getty Images

Happy Friday, fellow political junkies. Of course, it's hard to be happy if you're one of the more than two million federal workers either furloughed or working without pay, or one of the millions of other Americans whose lives are disrupted by official Washington's dysfunction. It's Day Four of the federal government shutdown, 2013 edition. And an end to the disagreement still doesn't seem in the offing.

On that grim note, here are some items of political interest worth mulling over this morning.

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5:41pm

Thu October 3, 2013
It's All Politics

Shutdown Diary, Day 3: More Talk, Little Action

Originally published on Thu October 3, 2013 6:04 pm

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. (from left), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., head for a news conference Thursday on Capitol Hill.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Congress: On Day 3 of the shutdown, a Washington made tense by partisan acrimony was put even more on edge by a bizarre incident. A woman who drove erratically near the White House and then the U.S. Capitol, causing the legislative complex to be locked down, ended up dead after a high-speed chase that left a Capitol Hill police officer injured.

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5:55am

Thu October 3, 2013
It's All Politics

Thursday Morning Political Mix

Originally published on Thu October 3, 2013 6:16 am

Washington has had no shutdown of meetings, like Wednesday's at the White House between President Obama and congressional leaders. But the path to reopening the government seemed no clearer.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Good morning, fellow political junkies. As we enter Day 3 of the federal government shutdown, the impasse appears no closer to a solution. Nothing like a way forward seemed to come from President Obama's White House meeting Wednesday evening with congressional leaders.

But, then, we didn't expect much from it since the president's people said he wouldn't be negotiating.

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4:45pm

Wed October 2, 2013
It's All Politics

Shutdown Diary: Day 2

Originally published on Wed October 2, 2013 7:12 pm

Anti-shutdown protesters in Los Angeles may have had enough of the budget crisis, but it appears to be far from over.
Jae C. Hong AP

Wednesday's Highlights:

White House

Day 2 of the federal government shutdown found President Obama summoning congressional leaders to the White House to urge House Republicans to pass legislation to reopen agencies and raise the debt ceiling to avoid a first-ever default by the U.S. (Nothing was resolved; here's the story.)

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5:20am

Wed October 2, 2013
It's All Politics

Wednesday Morning Political Mix

Originally published on Wed October 2, 2013 6:30 am

A visitor to the federally run Folk Art Center in Asheville, N.C., on Tuesday expressed the dismay many felt because of the government shutdown.
Chuck Burton AP

It's Day Two of the Federal Government Shutdown, 2013 edition with no end in sight.

So there's a heavy focus on shutdown-related items or themes today in this morning's political mix of items and themes that caught my eye:

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4:53pm

Tue October 1, 2013
It's All Politics

Shutdown Diary: War Of Words, And A Victory For Some WWII Vets

Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 6:33 pm

Veterans who came to Washington Tuesday to see the World War II memorial on the National Mall were able to complete their visit, although the memorial — like other federal museums and memorials — was officially closed to the public.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Day 1 of the federal government shutdown, 2013 edition, was business as usual, at least when it came to each side trying to win the message war and keep the pressure on the political opposition in the hope of getting them to blink first.

President Obama had a White House Rose Garden event to mark what also was the first day individuals were able to enroll in the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges. With real people who would benefit from the law arrayed behind him in a photo op, he used the moment to blast Republicans.

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1:16pm

Tue October 1, 2013
It's All Politics

No Talks Underway To Resolve Shutdown

Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 4:53 pm

A sign announces the closing of the Statue of Liberty on Tuesday.
Mark Lennihan AP

If you're wondering how long the shutdown will last, well, don't hold your breath.

As of this writing, there are no indications that talks are underway — or even in the offing.

Indeed, the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected House legislation Tuesday morning calling for a House-Senate conference to try to settle the disagreement behind the first federal government shutdown in 17 years.

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5:30pm

Mon September 30, 2013
It's All Politics

Countdown To Shutdown: A Closure Appears Inevitable

As the sun started its descent behind the U.S. Capitol building on Monday, it seemed virtually certain to rise on a partially shuttered federal government.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Monday's Highlights:

Only hours before a partial shutdown of the federal government would take effect, House Republicans still hadn't arrived at a temporary spending bill that Senate Democrats were willing to approve to keep government workers on the job. A closure appeared inevitable.

On Monday afternoon, Senate Democrats rejected a stopgap spending bill passed by the House over the weekend because it contained anti-Obamacare measures that Democrats found objectionable.

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4:50pm

Fri September 27, 2013
It's All Politics

Countdown To Shutdown: Obama Says 'Gears Of Our Economy' At Risk

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 5:25 pm

Friday's highlights:

As expected, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed its own version of a short-term spending bill. It's the version the House approved last week, minus language that would defund Obamacare. That effectively tossed the ball back to the Republican-controlled House.

And President Obama warned House Republicans to avoid the twin disruptions of a government shutdown (at midnight Monday) and a debt default (in mid-October).

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6:54am

Fri September 27, 2013
It's All Politics

Friday Morning Political Mix

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 7:57 am

Some things even Washington dysfunction can't touch, like the sight of a new day dawning near the Washington monument.
J. David Ake AP

Good morning, fellow political junkies. We're now only a little more than three days away from a federal government shutdown if Congress and President Obama don't reach an agreement on a stop-gap budget measure by Monday evening.

So we start our daily look at some of the morning's more interesting political items there.

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4:55pm

Thu September 26, 2013
It's All Politics

Countdown To Shutdown: It's GOP Senator Vs. GOP Senator

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., looks at a countdown-to-shutdown clock during a news conference in the Capitol on Thursday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Thursday's highlights (and lowlights):

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid raised the possibility that the Senate might be able to finish its work on the budget bill by the end of the day, sending it to the House sooner rather later. If Republicans went along, that would give the House more time to act to avert a government shutdown next week.

Perhaps predictably, Republicans didn't go along. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, in particular.

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7:11am

Thu September 26, 2013
It's All Politics

Thursday Morning Political Mix

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 7:13 am

A statue of George Washington, in the U.S. Capitol's Rotunda.
SAUL LOEB AFP/Getty Images

Good morning, fellow political junkies.Today finds the Senate in continued debate aimed at reaching a legislative agreement that keeps the federal government open into the new fiscal year which starts Oct. 1.

Meanwhile, there seems to be a growing mood among congressional Republicans to test President Obama's resolve to not negotiate over raising the debt ceiling in a few weeks.

Here are some politically-connected items or themes that caught my eye this morning.

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5:08pm

Wed September 25, 2013
It's All Politics

Countdown To Shutdown: The Ted Cruz Show Comes To A Close

Democratic Sens. Harry Reid of Nevada and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan visited with mothers and babies at a Capitol Hill Obamacare event Wednesday.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Wednesday's Highlights

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ended his marathon Senate floor speech at noon when his appointed time ran out.

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6:56am

Wed September 25, 2013
It's All Politics

Wednesday Morning Political Mix — Sept. 25, 2013

Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 9:21 am

Sen. Ted Cruz, worked a rare Senate overnight shift as he kept up a lengthy diatribe against Obamacare (with many digressions.)
Evan Vucci AP

It's Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, which puts us five days away from a possible federal-government shutdown that would begin Oct. 1 if Congress fails to pass a stop-gap spending bill.

So the drama in the Senate over the spending bill leads the day's interesting political items and features Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. At this writing, Cruz was in the last gasps of an anti-Obamacare talkathon. That's where we start:

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7:35am

Tue September 24, 2013
It's All Politics

Tuesday Morning Political Mix

Originally published on Tue September 24, 2013 2:06 pm

Yes, we know this is the Capitol Hill Peace Monument. But it seems a handy symbol for the partisan spending showdown in Washington.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

A brief and abstract chronicle of some of Tuesday's more interesting political stories, the kinds of stories that might get people who like politics talking around a water cooler, if people still did that sort of thing.

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5:03am

Tue September 24, 2013
It's All Politics

Some GOP Leaders Tee Up Cruz For Blame If There's A Shutdown

Originally published on Tue September 24, 2013 9:36 am

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is becoming the face of a possible government shutdown over Obamacare, and that has many fellow Republicans bashing him for what they see as an ill-conceived gambit.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Just a week before the federal government could shut down if no agreement is reached to fund it past the end of September, it's anyone's guess whether Democrats and Republicans will avoid plunging over this particular cliff.

More certain, however, is that if a shutdown happens over Obamacare and Republicans wind up taking the heat, many GOP fingers of blame will point squarely at Sen. Ted Cruz.

The Texas Republican will likely become the face of the 2013 shutdown, just as Newt Gingrich became the poster boy of two government shutdowns of the mid-1990s.

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9:09am

Mon September 23, 2013
It's All Politics

Monday News Clips: What We're Reading

Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 5:11 pm

J. Scott Applewhite AP

We're kicking off a new morning routine in which we'll get the day started on NPR's It's All Politics" blog by sharing a handful of political stories that caught our interest or that we'll be watching.

Here are a few of them for Monday, Sept. 23:

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12:53pm

Sun September 22, 2013
It's All Politics

EPA Gives Coal-State Democrats A Chance To Sound Republican

State and local leaders break ground at a Louisville, Ky., coal-burning power plant in November 2012.
Dylan Lovan AP

For Democrats running in coal-producing states like Kentucky and West Virginia, the Environmental Protection Agency's new limits on greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants provide a carboniferous chance to demonstrate independence from President Obama.

Those Democrats will probably take advantage of every chance they get to separate themselves from the president in voters' minds, since their Republican opponents will be working overtime to portray them as reliable Obama votes if they're elected to Congress.

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9:56am

Fri September 20, 2013
It's All Politics

Food Stamp Fight: Great For GOP Base But Not For Outreach

Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 1:34 pm

During George W. Bush's presidency, Republican leaders won praise for expanding food assistance. Now the House GOP is drawing criticism for cutting it.
Matt Rourke AP

The Republican-controlled House's vote to cut $40 billion from the food stamp program is just the latest example of how the GOP balance of power has shifted rightward over the past decade.

President George W. Bush isn't fondly remembered by progressives for much. But anti-hunger advocates credited him during his administration for strongly supporting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (the formal name for food stamps) and other policies to help unemployed or low-income workers and their children escape the fear of not knowing where their next meals would come from.

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4:03am

Thu September 19, 2013
It's All Politics

Conservative Lobbyist Derails Bipartisan 'Science Laureate' Bill

Originally published on Thu September 19, 2013 9:24 am

The U.S. Capitol at sunrise.
Jason Reed Reuters/Landov

No one who's been paying attention for, say, the past few decades, needs to be reminded of how extremely polarized Washington is.

So it's usually good news when Democrats and Republicans can come together on an issue, as they did recently to support the idea of creating the new honorary position of "Science Laureate of the United States."

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