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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NPR Story
5:48 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Without Earmark 'Grease,' Some Say, Spending Bills Get Stuck

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 5:24 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

While Congress tries to get to the bottom of what went wrong with the Affordable Care Act website, it's got other problems on its mind. Leading the list is the inability of lawmakers to carry out their most fundamental constitutional responsibility: appropriating the money needed to run the government in a timely fashion.

This month's shutdown was only the most recent fallout of the breakdown in appropriations. Some lawmakers say the Republican ban on earmarks nearly three years ago has only made things worse.

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Politics
4:33 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Conference Committee Charged With Budget Compromise

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 12:23 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

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Politics
4:42 am
Thu October 17, 2013

Budget Process Isn't Over. Are More Shutdowns Ahead?

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 10:23 am

By wide margins in both the House and the Senate, Congress voted Wednesday night to end a 16-day partial government shutdown. The measure also delays the debt ceiling deadline until early February. House and Senate Budget committees have until Dec. 13 to reconcile competing budgets.

Politics
4:28 am
Wed October 16, 2013

No Deal On Tuesday Leads To Day 16 Of Shutdown On Wednesday

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 5:58 am

With the threat of a government default looming, House leaders tried to take the upper hand in the standoff with a bill appealing to their most conservative members. They failed, resulting in chaos in the House and giving the initiative back to the Senate.

Politics
3:23 am
Mon October 14, 2013

How The Debt Limit Became 'A Nuclear-Tipped Leverage Point'

Congress set a limit on how much debt the U.S. Treasury could accrue back in 1917.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 6:14 pm

Political battles over the debt limit have been around nearly as long as the law passed by Congress in 1917 that set a statutory limit for how much debt the Treasury could accrue.

Since then, Congress has had to increase that limit on more than 100 occasions — and 40 of those times, lawmakers have tried to tie strings to raising the debt ceiling. In the last few years, though, there's been a marked escalation in those demands.

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Politics
4:37 am
Tue October 8, 2013

Democrats Focus Government Shutdown Blame On Boehner

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 8:26 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

And the partial government shutdown has brought intense attention to House speaker John Boehner. He's working to keep Republicans united in a battle against President Obama.

INSKEEP: People close to Boehner have made it clear he did not want this fight. But urged by other lawmakers, Boehner dug in, insisting that President Obama must negotiate.

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Politics
4:55 am
Mon October 7, 2013

GOP's History Of Resistance To Social Welfare Programs

Originally published on Mon October 7, 2013 5:22 am

A partial shutdown of the federal government is now in its seventh day. At the heart of the impasse is a political battle. For the government to re-open, Republicans are insisting on big changes to President Obama's signature health care law. This is not the first time there's been GOP resistance to a new social welfare program that was advocated and signed into law by a Democratic president.

Around the Nation
5:12 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

Car Chase Ends On Capitol Hill, Shots Reported

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 11:38 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. This afternoon, a car chase through the heart of Washington D.C. ended with shots fired near the Capitol. Details are sketchy, but we know that around 2:00 this afternoon, authorities began pursuit of a suspect by car near the White House. That chase ended on Capitol Hill with members of Congress in their offices hearing shots fired outside.

Here's Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine, speaking minutes ago.

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Politics
4:35 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Senate More Than Likely To Keep Obamacare Intact

Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 6:25 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Good morning. Let's catch up on the Senate's fight over Obamacare. A handful of Republican senators say they support a plan to deny funding to the Affordable Care Act. They want to attach that to a larger measure designed to keep the rest of the government running and avoid a partial shutdown at the end of the month.

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Politics
3:59 am
Thu September 19, 2013

Sen. McConnell In No-Win Situation On Obamacare

Originally published on Thu September 19, 2013 9:44 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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It's All Politics
4:55 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

GOP Debate: Is Obamacare Fight Worth A Government Shutdown?

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 8:40 am

Congressional Republicans agree that the new federal health care program should be ended. But they are finding themselves bitterly divided over how.

They have tried dozens of times to repeal it. Now, some GOP lawmakers want to block all money for Obamacare in a stopgap spending bill that must be approved next month to prevent the government from shutting down on Oct. 1. But other Republicans say that won't work and may well backfire.

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Politics
4:24 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

Texas Congressman Pulled In Two Directions Over Immigration

Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 5:45 pm

Second term GOP congressman Blake Farenthold is being targeted during Congress' summer recess by advocates of the Senate's immigration bill. Activists are organizing petitions and a demonstration at Farenthold's "open house" at his Corpus Christi office. And opponents are fighting back.

Politics
5:10 am
Mon August 5, 2013

McConnell Squares Off With Rivals At Ky. Political Picnic

Originally published on Mon August 5, 2013 5:44 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Over the weekend the tiny town of Fancy Farm, Kentucky was the scene of a political brawl worthy of the Hatfields and McCoys. No one was run out of town, but Mitch O'Connell, the Senate Republican leader, who is asking Kentuckians for a sixth term, did get pretty roughed up - verbally. You'd hardly guess it all began as a church picnic.

NPR's David Welna was there.

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Politics
4:48 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Senate Fails To Detonate 'Nuclear Option'

Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 5:08 am

Democrats had been preparing to change Senate rules on filibusters to push through President Obama's nominations to executive branch positions. Republicans agreed to allow votes on five nominations, and Democrats agreed to replace two particularly contentious names with others.

Politics
5:03 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Senate Democrats Back Off 'Nuclear Option' To End Filibusters

Originally published on Tue July 16, 2013 8:00 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. The Senate went to the brink of the so-called nuclear option but then, today, dialed it back. Senators struck a last minute deal in their fight over President Obama's nominations. Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid had threatened a rules change. It would've stripped the Republican minority of their ability to filibuster executive branch nominations. The deal reached this morning diffuses that threat, at least for now.

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