Liz Halloran

Liz Halloran joined NPR in December 2008 as Washington correspondent for Digital News, taking her print journalism career into the online news world.

Halloran came to NPR from US News & World Report, where she followed politics and the 2008 presidential election. Before the political follies, Halloran covered the Supreme Court during its historic transition — from Chief Justice William Rehnquist's death, to the John Roberts and Samuel Alito confirmation battles. She also tracked the media and wrote special reports on topics ranging from the death penalty and illegal immigration, to abortion rights and the aftermath of the Amish schoolgirl murders.

Before joining the magazine, Halloran was a senior reporter in the Hartford Courant's Washington bureau. She followed Sen. Joe Lieberman on his ground-breaking vice presidential run in 2000, as the first Jewish American on a national ticket, wrote about the media and the environment and covered post-9/11 Washington. Previously, Halloran, a Minnesota native, worked for The Courant in Hartford. There, she was a member of Pulitzer Prize-winning team for spot news in 1999, and was honored by the New England Associated Press for her stories on the Kosovo refugee crisis.

She also worked for the Republican-American newspaper in Waterbury, Conn., and as a cub reporter and paper delivery girl for her hometown weekly, the Jackson County Pilot.

It's been a long, disappointing year for many of President Obama's most ardent supporters.

From drones and Syria to immigration and the Keystone XL pipeline, the list of issues on which the president has induced frustration and disillusionment is not a short one.

And fallout from that restive base is reflected in Obama's dismal year-end poll numbers.

When Senate Democrats voted last month to limit the minority party's ability to filibuster most presidential nominees, inside-the-Beltway hand-wringing commenced.

The Senate would never be the same without a 60-vote threshold on controversial matters! Just wait and see the dysfunction! The retribution!

Gregory Koger, historian and pre-eminent expert on the filibuster, was not among the doomsayers.

The headline was enough to infuriate any privacy-loving North American.

"Disabled Woman Denied Entry To U.S. After Agent Cites Supposedly Private Medical Details," read the topper of a recent story in the Toronto Star.

There were a few snickers when a Colorado state judge ruled that a baker has to produce wedding cakes for gay couples even though he opposes same-sex marriage on religious grounds.

A cake? What's the big deal?

But the decision, handed down late last week, is just the latest slice in a debate that has gone front burner with gay marriage now legalized in 16 states, and counting.

Can individual businesspeople like Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver be compelled to provide wedding (or commitment ceremony) goods and services to gay couples?

The national debate about income equality and low-wage labor ramped up this week as fast-food workers across the country rallied for better pay and President Obama assailed the nation's growing income gap as the "defining challenge of our time."

Meanwhile, an $11.50 minimum wage bill was approved in the nation's capital, and giant discount retailer Wal-Mart opened its first Washington stores — accompanied by a flurry of ads defending the company's often-criticized pay and benefits practices.

Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell is more than a little aggravated with the Senate Conservatives Fund, and who can blame him.

The youngish but well-financed Tea Party organization has targeted McConnell, a five-termer from Kentucky and highest-ranking Senate Republican, by helping to bankroll a primary challenger and using the race as an intraparty, us vs. them proxy.

So, a uniformed Marine walks into a convenience store, and says to the clerk, "Pack of Marlboro Reds, in a box — and some matches."

The clerk gives the Marine the once over and says, "Sorry, son, but you look a bit young to be buying smokes. You 21?"

That potential scenario, in a nutshell, is the most common argument against a small but nascent movement to increase the minimum age to buy cigarettes from 18 to 21.

You can fight in a war at age 18, and vote in elections, but you can't buy cigarettes until your 21st birthday?

Wal-Mart's pay practices have long been targeted by advocates of America's working poor.

So it was no surprise that it became national news when the discount retailer, the nation's biggest employer, asked workers at an Ohio store to contribute to a holiday food drive — for fellow workers.

The political class was aflame Thursday with outrage (Republicans) and triumph (Democrats) as Senate Democrats voted to hem in the minority party's ability to filibuster most presidential nominees.

By a 52-48 vote, the Democratic-controlled Senate carried out the so-called nuclear option. The leadership will now allow a simple majority of senators to override filibusters on nominations, with the exception of those to the Supreme Court.

Previous precedent, in place since the 1970s, required a 60-vote "supermajority" to end a filibuster.

The conservative-driven movement to expand voter restrictions in the name of reducing polling booth fraud has often been described as a solution in search of a problem.

Despite evidence suggesting voter fraud is rare, it's a crusade that has proved so durable in GOP-dominated states like Arizona and Kansas that its leading proponents are undeterred — even by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Get a high court decision that bars you from requiring residents to produce documentary proof of citizenship like a passport or birth certificate when registering to vote?

Good morning.

Or, bad morning, if you're President Obama and absorbing the profound political reality of the botched health care law rollout, and your attempt at a fix.

We'll let the headlines tell the story:

Wall Street Journal: "Obama Retreats on Health Care Rules"

The Republicans have dubbed them the "Obamacare Dozen," the 12 Democratic senators up for re-election in 2014, all of whom voted for the president's health care and insurance overhaul law.

In GOP world, each one of those senators managed to provide the "deciding vote" for the Affordable Care Act.

And each one, in the wake of the law's online rollout debacle, is in a "panic" — the GOP buzzword of the week — over its political implications.

Good morning.

Before we get to the president's Treasury appointment, continuing Obamacare problems, and a presidential poll du jour, let's turn our thoughts to the people of the typhoon-devastated Philippines.

My colleague, Mark Memmott, provides an update here, which includes a description of the hard-hit city of Tacloban as looking as if a "50-mile tornado" flattened everything.

The outcome in Virginia's governor's race this week seemed to illustrate anew the Democratic Party's grip on the women's vote, and the power of the abortion issue.

Even some Republicans argued that social conservative Ken Cuccinelli's defeat at the hands of Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who won women by a 9-point margin, was another sign that the GOP's anti-abortion stance would continue to doom the party at the polls.

Good morning.

This was a week that gave Virginia a new governor, New Jersey the same one for another term, and ended with some big apologies.

Let's go to the "I'm sorry" roll first, starting with the biggie.

Obama's Sorry About All That

Virginia Tea Party Republican Ken Cuccinelli lost a closer-than-expected contest for governor Tuesday to Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a weak but well-financed and well-connected candidate.

By Wednesday morning, the political world was busy debating the meaning of the outcome in Virginia, where exit polls showed that voters expressed increasing antipathy to the Tea Party, and that it was women — particularly unmarried women — who propelled McAuliffe over the finish line.

Don't you love Election Day morning-afters?

The musings. The what-it-means. The grasping what-ifs.

The exit polls.

The blame.

The final chapter in the history of bombshells of the closeted gay politician variety may have been written Monday by Rep. Mike Michaud, a Maine Democrat running for governor.

Michaud, 58, announced in a column published in two state newspapers and by The Associated Press that he is a gay man, and followed it with the question: "But why should it matter?"

Judging from immediate reaction in Maine, where Michaud next year will be competing to become the first governor in U.S. history elected as an openly gay man, the answer seemed to be that it probably won't.

Virginians go to the polls Tuesday to pick the man they dislike the least to be their new governor: long-time Clinton moneyman Terry McAuliffe or hardline Tea Party conservative Ken Cuccinelli.

Cory Booker is a Yale-educated lawyer and erstwhile tweeter who, as mayor of Newark, N.J., displayed a knack for grabbing headlines while building a mixed legacy as the troubled city's leader.

He's also black, and Thursday at noon the 44-year-old Democrat was sworn in as a U.S. senator, making Congress's upper chamber just a tiny bit more diverse in more ways than one.

Booker, who on Oct. 16 was elected as New Jersey's first black senator, will join Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina as the chamber's only black senators.

There's little doubt that the Obama administration would like a health care website do-over.

Since its rollout Oct. 1, Obamacare's online insurance exchange sign-up, critical to success of the health care overhaul, has been a well-documented disaster.

The White House, in addition to managing considerable political fallout, also is dealing with a big, fat public relations problem. Just how does the administration go about winning the trust of the American people after the October Obamacare debacle?

Good morning.

Your erstwhile members of Congress are high-tailing it out of Washington for the weekend (no votes in the House, and the Senate took the day off but promises to return Monday).

But there's plenty to digest.

Fallout from Thursday's House hearing on computer problems marring the health care overhaul rollout. Across-the-pond anger over America's spying on allies. And, yes, donkeys. We'll get to that.

Good morning.

This is Washington, so there will be hearings.

Today's centerpiece of congressional inquiry bears the title, "Affordable Care Act Implementation Failures: Didn't Know or Didn't Disclose?" See where this is going?

The morning gathering will be the first in a promised series of GOP-led House Energy and Commerce Committee hearings into the implementation of Obamacare and its well-documented challenges.

Re-election trouble is brewing for longtime Republican senators in deep-red states, from South Carolina to Wyoming. And the trouble is from within.

The GOP's restive Tea Party and libertarian wings, energized by their titular leader, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and funded in part by starve-government groups like the Club for Growth, are waging 2014 Senate primary challenges in six states — and counting.

Good morning.

Let's get right to the tribulation.

Fallout from the government shutdown and budget crisis continues to rain down on Republicans.

Fallout from the monumentally flawed online rollout of Obamacare continues to rain down on President Obama and his team.

Obamacare

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