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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It's All Politics
4:13 am
Sat May 18, 2013

Immigration Bill Chugs Along, But Some See Deal-Breakers

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

Originally published on Sat May 18, 2013 6:23 am

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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Politics
5:31 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Senate Panel Keeps Up Effort To Reshape Immigration Overhaul

Senators on the Judiciary Committee spent their second full day slogging through proposed amendments to the bipartisan immigration overhaul. Tuesday's subject was the method of awarding visas for those wanting to come here to study and work.

Politics
3:56 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Immigration Reform Bill Holds Together In Senate Committee

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 6:15 pm

The Senate Judiciary held its second round of debate on changes to the bipartisan immigration bill. Tuesday's focus was visas for workers, including visas for skilled technical work. David Welna talks to Melissa Block.

Politics
3:49 am
Tue May 14, 2013

Lawmakers Call For Hearings On IRS Scandal

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 12:19 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This IRS scandal has given Republicans an unexpected opportunity to chide the Obama administration. And it comes as the GOP was resurrecting questions about how top Washington officials, including the president, handled the attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya last year.

NPR's David Welna has more on the latest political firestorm.

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Politics
4:30 am
Sat May 11, 2013

Immigration Overhaul Bill Survives Daylong Revamp

Originally published on Sat May 11, 2013 9:11 am

NPR's congressional correspondent David Welna speaks with host Scott Simon about the flurry of last-minute amendments, most from conservative Republicans, to alter the bipartisan immigration legislation.

Politics
4:45 am
Fri May 10, 2013

Immigration Bill Remains Largely Intact After 1st Hearing

Originally published on Fri May 10, 2013 7:10 am

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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Politics
3:34 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

Democrats Skeptical Of Republican 'Debt Prioritization' Bill

Originally published on Thu May 9, 2013 7:48 pm

House Republicans have passed a bill that would tell President Obama which bills to pay first, should the U.S. Treasury run out of cash and risk default, like it almost did two summers ago. The proposal is not likely to move in the Democratic Senate, and the issue itself is fading in urgency as the deficit picture improves.

Politics
4:54 am
Thu May 9, 2013

Republicans Vow To Keep Pressure On Benghazi Probe

A House committee held a hearing Wednesday into last year's attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The event has been a key political weapon for Republicans, first against President Obama's re-election campaign, and now against then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is a potential Democratic presidential candidate in 2016.

It's All Politics
4:37 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

Congressional Hearings Put Renewed Focus On Benghazi Attack

Originally published on Tue May 7, 2013 9:56 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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Politics
4:11 am
Tue May 7, 2013

How Much Will Revamping Immigration Cost Taxpayers?

Originally published on Tue May 7, 2013 10:04 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

This week, Congress debates an immigration bill, a plan by the bipartisan Gang of Eight, as they're called. The Senate Judiciary Committee begins reviewing the legislation on Thursday.

GREENE: Part of the debate is between Republicans and Democrats. But maybe the most vital debate is between conservatives.

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Politics
3:41 am
Fri May 3, 2013

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

Originally published on Fri May 3, 2013 11:14 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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U.S.
10:19 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Obama Answers Questions On Syria, Guantanamo, More

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 2:27 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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Politics
4:23 am
Tue April 23, 2013

Boston Case Casts Shadow Over Capitol Hill Immigration Hearing

Originally published on Tue April 23, 2013 4:46 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.

Politics
7:15 am
Fri April 19, 2013

'Gang Of 8' Rolls Out Immigration Overhaul

Originally published on Fri April 19, 2013 12:32 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Okay, we are continuing to follow the events in Boston this morning. Police there say one of the suspected Boston Marathon bombers has been killed and the other is on the run in the Boston suburb of Watertown. For the moment, let's turn to another major story here in Washington. A bipartisan bill revamping the nation's immigration laws goes to the Senate judiciary committee today.

It was formerly rolled out yesterday by the group of Senators known as the Gang of Eight and critics have weighed in. Here's NPR's David Welna.

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Politics
4:29 am
Tue April 16, 2013

GOP Wants Immigration Bill To Address Border Security

Originally published on Tue April 16, 2013 1:04 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A bipartisan immigration bill in the U.S. Senate contains a prerequisite. Before millions of people in the U.S. without documents have a chance at visas and eventual citizenship, the borders must be secured. So what qualifies as secure?

Here's NPR's David Welna.

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