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.

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It's All Politics
2:46 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Tom Coburn, GOP Budget Hawk And Obama Friend, To Leave Senate

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., outlines his annual "Wastebook," which points a critical finger at billions of dollars in questionable government spending, on Dec. 17 on Capitol Hill.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 5:12 pm

Tom Coburn will leave the Senate with a reputation as "Dr. No," but not necessarily as doctrinaire.

The Oklahoma Republican, who at age 65 is undergoing his fifth bout of cancer, announced that he will resign in December, two years before his second term expires.

"This decision isn't about my health, my prognosis or even my hopes and desires," Coburn, a physician, said in a statement. "As a citizen, I am now convinced that I can best serve my own children and grandchildren by shifting my focus elsewhere."

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It's All Politics
12:28 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Doctors Say Reid's Request For Bowel Research Money Is No Joke

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada talks about unemployment benefits during a news conference Thursday.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 10:47 am

In his new memoir, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates heaped scorn on many members of Congress for pushing their parochial interests with him.

But he saved a special dig for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"With two ongoing wars and all our budget and other issues, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry," Gates writes, describing how the Nevada Democrat urged him to have the Defense Department invest in research into irritable bowel syndrome.

It's an anecdote that drew snickers — and media attention, including here at NPR.

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It's All Politics
4:12 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Christie Concedes 'Mistakes Were Made' In Bridge Scandal

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers his State Of The State address Tuesday in Trenton, N.J.
Mel Evans AP

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, engulfed in scandal over the politically motivated closing of bridge access lanes and questions about how he spent federal Hurricane Sandy aid, pledged Tuesday to "cooperate with all appropriate inquiries."

In his annual State of the State speech from the State Capitol in Trenton, the two-term Republican governor made quick work of the George Washington Bridge controversy, which hopelessly snarled traffic in the city of Fort Lee for days. The circumstances surrounding the episode have clouded the prospects of a potential presidential bid in 2016.

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It's All Politics
4:02 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

High Court's Pass On 'Fetal Pain' Abortion Case Unlikely To Cool Debate

Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 1:02 pm

A new class of restrictive abortion laws, passed in recent years in a swath of states, hinges on the argument that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks of gestation.

But the fetal pain assertion, viewed skeptically by many scientists, hit a bump Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a lower court ruling striking down an Arizona law that criminalized abortions at 20 weeks.

The state's ban asserted that "unborn children feel pain during an abortion at that gestational age." Federal courts last year also blocked similar "fetal pain" laws in Idaho and Georgia.

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It's All Politics
3:16 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Gates Unleashed: Ex-Defense Chief Goes Scorched Earth On Congress

In his new memoir, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is unsparing in his criticism of Congress.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 7:14 pm

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made international news this week with the release of a memoir that serves up a big helping of unvarnished criticism of his former boss, President Obama.

But his scalding of the sitting commander in chief seems practically tame compared to the beat down he delivers to members of Congress.

And that includes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who, Gates asserts, once urged him to have the Defense Department "invest in research on irritable bowel syndrome."

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It's All Politics
10:41 am
Thu January 9, 2014

How Long Is Too Long? Congress Revisits Mandatory Sentences

Inmates walk around a recreation yard at the Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, Calif., in January 2012.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 12:14 pm

Mandatory minimum prison sentences for drug dealers were once viewed as powerful levers in the nation's war against drugs, a way to target traffickers, and punish kingpins and masterminds.

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It's All Politics
4:27 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Democrats Tackle Politics Of Income Inequality

White House National Economic Council Chairman Gene Sperling speaks during the daily briefing at the White House on Monday. With Congress back, the Senate is expected to work on a three-month extension of benefits for the long-term unemployed.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 1:26 pm

President Obama and fellow Democrats, just back from a long holiday break, are immediately embracing a legislative agenda that would increase the minimum wage and extend unemployment insurance benefits to an estimated 1.3 million long-term jobless in America.

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It's All Politics
1:42 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Clay Aiken's Political Reality: Results Mixed For Stars Like Him

Clay Aiken performs a special one night only concert at the Progress Energy Performing Arts Center in Raleigh, N.C., in March 2010.
Jim R. Bounds AP

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 2:19 pm

Reality television star Clay Aiken set the political class chattering Friday with rumors that he may run for Congress.

Frozen in time as the elfin man-child of American Idol fame, the runner-up from a decade ago is reportedly considering running as a Democrat in his home state of North Carolina.

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It's All Politics
4:54 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

Partisan Evolution Gap? Politically Insignificant, GOP Says

A display of a series of skeletons showing the evolution of humans at the Peabody Museum, New Haven, Conn., circa 1935.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 5:45 pm

A new national survey showing that the share of Republicans who believe in evolution has tumbled from 54 to 43 percent over the past four years comes at an inopportune time.

The Pew Research poll suggests that the GOP, already struggling with an identity crisis and facing ferocious internal battles, is out of sync on the issue with independents and young voters, who are far more likely to believe in the science of evolution than their forebears.

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Politics
3:12 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

'Living Wage' Effort Eclipsed By Minimum-Pay Battles

Wheelchair attendant Erick Conley (left) assists an elderly passenger at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Wash. The small city recently raised the minimum wage to $15 for many airport jobs.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 4:08 pm

The close of 2013 has been marked by a vigorous national debate over income inequality, the plight of low-wage workers in America and the effect of boosting mandatory minimum wages.

The debate was magnified when Wal-Mart got unwanted attention for a store-based holiday food drive for its own needy workers, and when President Obama announced his support for legislation that would raise the national minimum hourly wage of $7.25 for the first time since 2007.

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Architecture
1:35 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Makeover USA: Short, 'Dowdy' D.C. Considers High Heels

The skyline of Washington, D.C., including the Capitol building, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and National Mall. The tall buildings in the distance are in Virginia.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 3:06 pm

The powers that be in Washington are typically, though certainly not always, wrestling with weighty issues.

Recently, they've also been debating height, and whether they prefer a stout, familiar dowager, or a taller, sleeker model.

Building heights, people: We're talking building heights in your nation's capital, where for more than a century the 1910 Building Height Act has kept the city's profile low.

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It's All Politics
1:37 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Obama's Year Of Disappointing The Liberal Base

President Obama talks about drones and national security earlier this year at the National Defense University in Washington.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 8:56 am

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.

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It's All Politics
4:19 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Cost Of Battling Filibuster Rules: No Sleep Or Fundraising

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 5:31 pm

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.

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It's All Politics
1:33 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Tourists At The Border: Should Mental Illness Halt U.S. Entry?

Cars entering the U.S. pass a welcome sign at the border crossing between the U.S. and Canada, in Blaine, Wash.
Elaine Thompson AP

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.

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Law
10:46 am
Wed December 11, 2013

No Cake For You: Saying 'I Don't' To Same-Sex Marriage

A Colorado judge recently ordered Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to serve gay couples, after he refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.
Lindsay Pierce Denver Post via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 3:15 pm

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?

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It's All Politics
1:06 pm
Sun December 8, 2013

Debate On Wage And Wealth Gap Heats Up; Solutions Elusive

Protesters in Boston march in the parking lot of a Burger King as part of a nation-wide protest supporting higher wages for workers in the fast-food industry.
Stephan Savoia AP

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.

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It's All Politics
5:20 am
Thu December 5, 2013

GOP Family Feud: 'Showboat' DeMint Takes on 'Tyrant' McConnell

Former GOP Sen. Jim DeMint, president of the Heritage Foundation, at a news conference earlier this year.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 12:26 pm

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.

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It's All Politics
3:37 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

You Can Vote, You Can Enlist — But Can You Buy A Cigarette?

Cigarette packs are displayed at a convenience store in New York City, which has raised the age to buy cigarettes from 18 to 21.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 4:22 pm

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?

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It's All Politics
6:07 am
Fri November 22, 2013

Wal-Mart Food Drive Unwittingly Fuels Talk Of Minimum Wage Hike

Dozens of people protest for better wages outside a Los Angeles Wal-Mart store on Nov. 7.
Lucy Nicholson Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 9:51 am

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.

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It's All Politics
2:51 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

GOP Enraged After Filibuster Vote, But Does It Change Much?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) speaks to the media on Thursday after passing the so-called nuclear option, which changes the Senate rules to eliminate the use of the filibuster on presidential nominees except those to the Supreme Court.
Jim Lo Scalzo EPA/Landov

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 3:48 pm

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.

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It's All Politics
10:36 am
Tue November 19, 2013

States Renew Battle To Require That Voters Prove Citizenship

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 3:38 pm

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?

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It's All Politics
8:37 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Friday Political Mix: Obama's Health Care Fallout Writ Large

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 11:07 am

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"

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It's All Politics
8:51 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Obamacare Fallout Hits Senate Democrats, But Not Equally

Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 1:18 pm

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.

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It's All Politics
8:23 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Tuesday Political Mix: Treasury, Tribes, and Christie 2016

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 9:15 am

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.

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It's All Politics
4:16 am
Sat November 9, 2013

Don't Read Virginia Result As Pro-Choice: It's Anti-Extreme

Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli gestures during an Oct. 24 debate in Blacksburg, Va.
Steve Helber AP

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.

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It's All Politics
8:09 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Friday Political Mix: Obama, CBS Apologize; Rand Paul Copied

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 12:01 pm

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

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It's All Politics
4:47 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Virginia Result Driven by Obamacare? Shutdown? Not So Much

Democrat Terry McAuliffe speaks to supporters Tuesday in Tysons Corner, Va. McAuliffe defeated Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia governor's race.
Drew Angerer Getty Images

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.

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It's All Politics
8:54 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Wednesday Political Mix: Post-Vote Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 11:19 am

Don't you love Election Day morning-afters?

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

The exit polls.

The blame.

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It's All Politics
3:18 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

What If A Congressman Comes Out And Nobody Cares?

Rep. Mike Michaud talks to an Associated Press reporter Monday in Portland, Maine, about his public announcement that he is gay.
Clarke Canfield AP

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 4:43 pm

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.

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It's All Politics
10:01 am
Sun November 3, 2013

Va. Governor's Race: Nationally Significant Or Just Nasty?

Virginia gubernatorial candidates Democrat Terry McAuliffe (left) and Republican Ken Cuccinelli.
Steve Helber AP

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 9:30 am

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.

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