Brian Naylor

NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.

With more than 30 years of experience at NPR, Naylor has served as National Desk correspondent, White House correspondent, congressional correspondent, foreign correspondent, and newscaster during All Things Considered. He has filled in as host on many NPR programs, including Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, and Talk of the Nation.

During his NPR career, Naylor has covered many major world events, including political conventions, the Olympics, the White House, Congress, and the mid-Atlantic region. Naylor reported from Tokyo in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, from New Orleans following the BP oil spill, and from West Virginia after the deadly explosion at the Upper Big Branch coal mine.

While covering the U.S. Congress in the mid-1990s, Naylor's reporting contributed to NPR's 1996 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Journalism Award for political reporting.

Before coming to NPR in 1982, Naylor worked at NPR Member Station WOSU in Columbus, Ohio, and at a commercial radio station in Maine.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maine.

Fifty years ago this week, when hundreds of thousands of demonstrators came from across the country to take part in the 1963 March on Washington, the city was not yet the cosmopolitan capital that it arguably is today.

But it was a mecca for African-Americans, says historian Marya McQuirter.

"Washington was definitely a different city 50 years ago," she says, "for a number of reasons. By 1957, it had become the largest majority black city in the country."

The cars we drive have gotten ever more sophisticated. They can just about park themselves; they tell us if we're drifting out of our lane; they can prevent skids. Some even automatically apply the brakes if they sense that a collision is imminent.

Engineers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh are developing a car that can do all of those things and more — it can actually drive itself. Imagine that commute to work.

The U.S. Postal Service lost some $16 billion last year and continues to bleed red ink. Congress has been unable to agree on a rescue plan.

The latest proposal would allow the post office to end Saturday delivery in a year and enable it to ship wine and beer.

The Postal Service's woes are familiar: People don't really send letters anymore, so first-class mail is down, and Congress makes the post office prepay future retiree benefits to the tune of $5.5 billion a year.

The Internal Revenue Service, under attack by congressional Republicans, has been operating without a permanent commissioner. President Obama nominated John Koskinen on Thursday for what might be seen as a thankless job.

The president called his nominee "an expert at turning around institutions in need of reform." But Koskinen will have his work cut out for him, starting with his Senate confirmation hearing.

History With Struggling Agencies

Janet Napolitano's announcement that she'll be stepping down as Department of Homeland Security secretary after four years on the job leaves an opening at the top of the key Cabinet agency. But it's not the only job opening at Homeland Security.

Fifteen top posts at DHS, including secretary, are now vacant or soon will be. Many are being filled on a temporary basis, and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle want the Obama administration to get busy filling those jobs, too.

Revelations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted some conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny have put a spotlight on a part of the tax code increasingly popular with political groups: section 501(c)(4).

But what's the benefit for organizations to get approved for 501(c)(4) status?

The immigration overhaul bill before the Senate would provide, among other things, more visas for migrant farm workers and high-tech workers, and a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

One thing it would not provide is help for same-sex couples in which one partner is an American and one foreign-born. For heterosexual couples, a foreign-born spouse automatically qualifies for a green card and many of the benefits of citizenship. Not so with gay and lesbian couples.

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In the days since the Boston Marathon bombings, local law enforcement officials have been given high marks for their response to the attack and the coordination among numerous federal, state and local agencies involved.

But at the same time, questions are being raised about the coordination among federal agencies handling intelligence they had about the suspects in the months before the attack.

Local officials have defended the decision to essentially lock down the city of Boston on Friday while law enforcement searched for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing.

Residents were told to remain indoors during the hunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who survived an early morning shootout with police in the suburb of Watertown during which his brother, Tamerlan, was killed.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced the decision to lock down Watertown and the surrounding areas, including Boston, at a dawn news conference Friday.

It's no secret that many of the nation's roads are in pretty bad shape. In the latest report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the condition of America's highways rated a grade of D.

Congestion is a big problem, and so is upkeep. Most states rely on gas taxes to raise the money for repairs and new construction, but that funding source is not the stream it used to be, says James Corless of Transportation for America.

The nation's capital has been undergoing something of a building boom. Dozens of construction cranes dot the Washington, D.C., skyline.

So it comes as no surprise that the federal government is hoping to take advantage of the real estate values and unload what's seen by many as an eyesore on Pennsylvania Avenue: the J. Edgar Hoover Building, headquarters of the FBI.

Control towers at many small and medium-sized airports around the country are set to shut down next month because of the across-the-board federal budget cuts. The towers have been operated under contract to the Federal Aviation Administration.

One of the airports affected is in Latrobe, Pa., southeast of Pittsburgh — the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, named after the golf great who grew up a well-placed drive from the runway. A statue of Palmer watches over the small terminal.

Hear Brian Nayor, Julie Rovner, Yuki Noguchi and Carrie Johnson talk with Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep about the many federal entities operating without permanent leadership by clicking the audio link.

Some workers may dream about how productive they'd be without a boss. But for thousands of federal employees, being without a boss is a reality. And productivity isn't necessarily the result.

Unless Congress acts, across-the-board spending cuts scheduled to take effect March 1 will be felt throughout the government. Some of the most visible effects will be noticed by air travelers.

Officials predict that cutbacks at the Federal Aviation Administration could lead to takeoff delays and fewer flights overall.

Every month, the government sends out about 5 million checks to Americans who receive federal benefits. On March 1, the Treasury Department is making those paper checks a thing of the past.

Since May 2011, all new Social Security recipients are required to get direct deposit of their benefits. Some 93 percent of all recipients now do.

But there are still holdouts, so the Treasury Department started a campaign and a website, Go Direct, in an effort to convince the remaining 7 percent.

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Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has been chosen to deliver the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address next Tuesday. And in a first, Rubio will deliver his speech in both Spanish and English.

But no matter who delivers the response or in what language, the State of the Union address has always been a tough act to follow.

Yet that hasn't stopped people from trying.

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After the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., President Obama asked Vice President Biden to lead a group tasked with drafting policies to reduce gun violence. One of the issues sure to come up in the Biden group's discussions is the role of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Among the loose ends that lawmakers would like to tie up before the end of this lame-duck session is the farm bill, which is made up mostly of crop subsidies and food stamps.

The last farm bill expired in September. The Senate has passed a new one; the House has not. Farm-state lawmakers are urging leaders to include a farm bill as part of any budget deal to avert year-end tax increases and spending cuts.

But not everyone thinks that's a good idea.

Billions in damages and not enough in the bank account — that's where federal officials find themselves in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

The White House says it will send an emergency funding request to Capitol Hill this week — expected to be $50 billion to $60 billion. Top administrators told Congress on Wednesday that they want at least some of that money to go toward preventing the kind of devastation caused by Sandy and other recent storms.

Political leaders from the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast have not been shy about their intent to seek as much federal funding as possible for their storm-struck states. Damages and lost economic activity as a result of Hurricane Sandy have been estimated as high as $50 billion.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., wants $30 billion in federal assistance to help rebuild his state. This request, and others, come at a time when Congress is already consumed with reducing the deficit.

Following Superstorm Sandy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has received good grades from politicians and even some survivors of the storm. In part, that's due to lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina seven years ago.

For Staten Island resident Deb Smith, whose house was flooded by the storm surge from Sandy, FEMA has been a savior.

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Now, to the potential political implications of the strike and how it might shake up the presidential race. Here's NPR's Brian Naylor.

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