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.


4:45 am
Mon August 1, 2011

Path Ahead For Debt Legislation Remains Uncertain

After weeks of mounting anxiety and collapsed deals, Congressional leaders and President Obama reached an agreement Sunday night to end the debt ceiling crisis. Those leaders will attempt to sell that deal to fellow lawmakers Monday, and if all goes well, a bill increasing the debt ceiling by nearly a trillion dollars could await the president's signature Tuesday.

That's the day the Treasury Department had said the nation's first-ever default could occur if Congress failed to act.

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4:00 am
Thu July 28, 2011

House GOP Debt Plan Faces Make-Or-Break Vote

Congress is still scrambling to vote on a deficit plan that could solve the current debt ceiling crisis. On Thursday, Speaker John Boehner is expected to present his plan for a vote in the House of Representatives. The Republican leader has called on his GOP brethren to get in line and support the proposal, while Senate Majority leader Harry Reid waits in the wings with a plan of his own.

4:00 am
Wed July 27, 2011

House GOP Reworking Debt Plan After Delay

Despite the prospect of U.S. debt default if an Aug. 2 deadline isn't met, lawmakers continue to wrangle over competing proposals to increase the debt limit and cut spending. The House is working on a plan put forward by Speaker John Boehner; awaiting a vote in the senate is Majority leader Harry Reid's rival plan.

7:52 am
Sun July 24, 2011

Debt Talks Impasse Leads To Market Fears

The opening of financial markets in East Asia is causing anxiety in official Washington and beyond. The concern is that a Friday night breakdown in talks between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner on raising the debt ceiling may have negative repercussions when trading gets under way.

More meetings took place all day Saturday, first at the White House, then at the Capitol, seeking that elusive bipartisan deal.

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12:01 am
Wed July 20, 2011

Could Gang Of Six Plan End Debt-Ceiling Stalemate?

The House spent all day Wednesday debating GOP legislation requiring a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution before the debt ceiling could be raised. Republicans passed the bill knowing it has little chance of going anywhere in the Democratic-run Senate and also faces a veto threat.

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