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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Politics
12:01 am
Tue July 19, 2011

House To Vote On Doomed GOP-Backed Debt Plan

The last day the U.S. Treasury says it can fully pay its obligations is exactly two weeks away. That is unless Congress avoids default by raising the nation's legal borrowing limit.

Lawmakers in the House may help budge the debt ceiling impasse with a vote Tuesday on legislation dubbed "Cut, Cap and Balance." It bars any increase in the debt ceiling unless Congress first passes a balanced budget amendment. The bill has little chance in the Senate, but it could clear the way for a bipartisan fallback plan to avoid default.

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Politics
9:51 pm
Wed July 13, 2011

Debt-Ceiling Deal? 'Hell, No Caucus' Stands Firm

A fourth consecutive day of talks at the White House for a deal to raise the debt ceiling by Aug. 2 ended abruptly Wednesday night, with President Obama walking out on a meeting with congressional leaders. That was hours after the credit-ratings agency Moody's threatened to cut the U.S. credit rating, warning of an increased risk of a government debt default.

Meanwhile, GOP congressional leaders in particular are increasingly at odds with members of their own party in the debt-ceiling debate.

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Politics
12:01 am
Thu June 30, 2011

Is GOP Resolve On Taxes Showing Cracks?

Is Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, losing his legendary grip on GOP lawmakers?
Win McNamee Getty Images

Most Senate Republicans voted two weeks ago to end a tax break for ethanol. Some see that vote as a chink in the armor of anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist and the no-new-taxes pledge he's gotten almost every GOP lawmaker to take.

Senate Democrats are still crowing about the day when more than two-thirds of their GOP colleagues seemed to set aside their anti-tax increase orthodoxy.

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Politics
8:00 am
Sat June 25, 2011

House Votes On Libya Split Both Parties

It's 96 days now since President Obama ordered U.S. forces to begin airstrikes against the forces in Libya of Col. Moammar Gadhafi. That's six days longer than the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which says a president can carry out a military campaign without congressional authorization. Two measures were brought before the House of Representatives that might have provided such authorization, albeit with strings attached. Both failed. NPR's David Welna reports.

Politics
12:01 am
Wed June 22, 2011

In Congress, A Bipartisan Push For Afghan Drawdown

Originally published on Wed June 22, 2011 7:30 am

Growing numbers of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are balking both at the length of the war in Afghanistan and its cost.

Late last month, a few weeks after U.S. forces killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the Republican-run House voted on a bipartisan amendment aimed at hastening an end to the war in Afghanistan. To the surprise of many, it fell just six votes shy of passing.

Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) was one of 26 members of his party who joined nearly every Democrat in voting for the measure.

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