Looming sequestration cuts of massive proportions, coupled with a U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan are adding to the boiling partisanship over nominating Chuck Hegel as defense secretary. It's hard to avoid the conclusion that some of the biggest challenges for the Department of Defense come from inside U.S. borders.
In recent weeks, President Obama has chosen Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., as his next secretary of state; former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., to head the Pentagon; counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to be CIA director; and his chief of staff, Jack Lew, to be the next Treasury secretary.
Each nomination will have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and they all could be stopped by a Senate filibuster — that is, the refusal by any one of 100 senators to let a matter come to a final vote.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
You might've chuckled a bit this week, if you heard about the trillion-dollar platinum coin plan, to perhaps address Washington, D.C.'s debt ceiling stalemate. But it will certainly be no laughing matter if the U.S. Congress refuses to raise the borrowing limit, and the U.S. government defaults on its debt. Global financial markets would likely plummet.
NPR's John Ydstie reports on some of the options the president has if he and Congress cannot reach an agreement.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says Mobile, Pike and surrounding counties have been approved for disaster assistance because of damage sustained in the Christmas Day outbreak of tornadoes.
Bentley says the assistance will come in the form of low interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The two primary counties listed on the disaster declaration are Mobile and Pike. But it also includes Baldwin, Barbour, Bullock, Coffee, Crenshaw, Dale, Montgomery and Washington counties in Alabama and George, Greene and Jackson counties in Mississippi.
When the rumored rebellion against House Speaker John Boehner's bid for a second term played out last week, the very first Republican to not vote for Boehner was Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., just three names into the alphabetical roll call.
A plan by state Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan to hire another of his rivals from the 2010 campaign is off.
McMillan had planned to hire Shelby County businessman Dale Peterson, who ran against McMillan in the Republican primary in 2010, but Peterson announced Thursday he's not going to work at the state agriculture department. Peterson says he realized McMillan was trying to neutralize him and keep him from being a potential candidate in 2014.
The Alabama Public Service Commission has blocked Commissioner Terry Dunn's request for a formal review of the rate structures for Alabama's three largest investor-owned utilities.
Dunn made a motion Thursday for formal reviews of Alabama Power, Alabama Gas and Mobile Gas, but commissioners Twinkle Cavanaugh and Jeremy Oden said an informal process is the best way to proceed. That will begin later this month with Mobile Gas.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez remained in Cuba, where he's receiving treatment for cancer, and was not present for his planned inauguration in Caracas on Thursday. However, thousands of supporters gathered outside the presidential palace to show their backing.
Credit Juan Barreto / AFP/Getty Images
Chavez has been receiving cancer treatment since the middle of 2011. He's shown here at the presidential palace on Sept. 17, 2011, a few months after his treatment began.
Three Latin American presidents turned up, as did foreign diplomats. And thousands of President Hugo Chavez's supporters flooded the streets Thursday outside the presidential palace in Venezuela's capital, Caracas.
But Chavez himself didn't show — he remained in Cuba, incapacitated after his latest round of cancer surgery.
Still, the carefully choreographed show did go on, and Chavez's aides said he remains in charge.
Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 11:34 am
A re-elected president who gets to choose a second-term Cabinet has much more knowledge of the kind of team he needs than he did the first time around.
That's one simple way to understand President Obama's decisions as he creates his Cabinet 2.0.
The choices are not those of a president-elect who hasn't moved into the White House, or of a green president who hasn't watched his first international crisis unfold from his leather seat in the White House Situation Room.
Florida and several other states are wrestling with a decision: whether to expand Medicaid.
When the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act last year, the court said states could opt out of that part of the law. But it's key. It would provide coverage to millions of low-income Americans who currently have no health insurance.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott says he's concerned about how much expanding Medicaid would cost. But others charge the governor is exaggerating.