NPR's Political Junkie Ken Rudin recaps the week in politics — from Chuck Hagel's nomination for Secretary of Defense, to the swearing-in of the 113th Congress. Exiting Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH) shares his thoughts on the current state and future of the Republican Party.
Politics & Government
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is the primary enforcer of the nation's gun laws, but advocates and former ATF officials say agents face legal restrictions that limit their effectiveness. In addition, the agency has been without a permanent director for years.
Sen.-elect Ted Cruz is a bright young Hispanic star who will be sworn in this week in Washington. Many in the GOP hope he'll be able to bring more Latino voters into their column. But Cruz takes a Tea Party hard line on immigration.
President Obama has nominated his counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, to lead the CIA. Brennan's work with the agency under George W. Bush has been controversial, and he's also drawn criticism for his lead role in the Obama administration's use of unmanned drones.
Lawmakers in Washington extended some provisions of the farm bill that expired in October. Subsidies for grain cotton and soybeans will be renewed, and budgets for some organic and environment initiatives will be cut. Since the extension only lasts nine months, many farmers are left with uncertainty.
The so-called "Bridge to Nowhere" came to symbolize all that's wrong with earmarks in Congress. But during the past few weeks, as Speaker John Boehner struggled to rally support for his alternate tax plan, some said earmarks could have helped him convince fellow Republicans to push legislation through the House.
The 113th Congress reconvened this week with 84 newly elected members. Kentucky Public Radio's Kenny Colston travels to Lexington, Ky., to meet the newest member of the Kentucky Republican delegation, Andy Barr.
President Obama handily won re-election, but Congress remains fairly unchanged. Will the status quo prevail during his second term? Or will he follow through on promises that got progressives excited about him in 2008?
The "fiscal cliff" wasn't the first time Vice President Joe Biden has helped carry a deal across the finish line. Though critics dismiss him as a gaffe-prone windbag, he has reached across the aisle many times to get compromises through Congress.
President Obama may go into the next round of fiscal battles without his long-time Treasury Secretary. Tim Geithner reportedly plans to step down in January, even as the Treasury Department is scrambling to avoid cracking the government's debt ceiling. Robert Siegel talks with Scott Horsley about that and other personnel changes as the president prepares for his second term.