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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House & Senate Races
5:30 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

Republicans Face Uphill Battle To Take Over Senate

Originally published on Fri September 21, 2012 6:53 pm

Just a few months ago, most observers believed Republicans had a pretty decent chance to take control of the U.S. Senate. Now, that doesn't seem as likely.

Election 2012
5:40 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Parties Debate Meaning, Value Of 'Redistribution'

Mitt Romney speaks in Miami on Wednesday.
J Pat Carter AP

Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 6:19 pm

Cuban-Americans know a thing or two about what can happen when a government seizes wealth and redistributes it, as Fidel Castro's regime did five decades ago in Cuba.

So Mitt Romney had an especially receptive audience Wednesday night at a rally of Cuban-Americans in Miami, when he launched his campaign's latest line of attack on President Obama.

"He said some years ago something which we're hearing about today on the Internet," Romney told the crowd. "He said that he believes in redistribution."

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Politics
4:49 am
Wed September 19, 2012

Why Some Are Exempt From Federal Income Taxes

Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 4:02 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Far more than half of Americans pay some form of federal, state and local taxes. But one thing all parties seem to agree on is that the proportion of people not paying federal income taxes has grown larger in recent years.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Less talked about is that policies backed both by Democrats and Republicans, combined with an aging population and a high unemployment rate, have fueled that growth.

NPR's David Welna has this brief history of federal taxes.

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Politics
6:21 am
Sun September 16, 2012

Congress Bets On Post-Election Edge, Delaying Action

Originally published on Sun September 16, 2012 8:36 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
4:39 am
Fri September 7, 2012

Thousands Of Shut-Outs Watch Obama Speech On TV

Originally published on Fri September 7, 2012 10:15 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
5:24 am
Thu September 6, 2012

First Lady Urges Delegates To Round Up Voters

Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 10:17 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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Election 2012
4:35 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

Dems Capitalize On Advantage With Hispanic Voters

Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 4:46 pm

Hispanics were a major focus of the program at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Democrats, beginning their convention in Charlotte, N.C., are hoping to capitalize on their current advantage with Hispanic voters.

Politics
5:32 am
Thu August 2, 2012

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

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 11:53 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
5:59 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 11:47 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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Law
7:52 am
Sat July 28, 2012

The NRA's Lock On The Gun Control Debate

A supporter of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney holds an NRA baseball cap during at a campaign rally in Craig, Colo., in May.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Sat July 28, 2012 8:10 pm

It's been just over a week since moviegoers in Aurora, Colo., were mowed down in a hail of bullets. There have been expressions of sorrow from the nation's political leaders, but no attempts at rewriting laws to head off yet another massacre in the commons.

Election-year politics may be one explanation; another may be the sway a powerful interest group holds over Congress.

This Conversation Didn't Happen

Earlier this week, Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette joined three other Democratic lawmakers at the Capitol to make a plea.

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