Frank James

Frank James joined NPR News in April 2009 to launch the blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Mark Memmott.

"The Two-Way" is the place where NPR.org gives readers breaking news and analysis — and engages users in conversations ("two-ways") about the most compelling stories being reported by NPR News and other news media.

James came to NPR from the Chicago Tribune, where he worked for 20 years. In 2006, James created "The Swamp," the paper's successful politics and policy news blog whose readership climbed to a peak of 3 million page-views a month.

Before that, James covered homeland security, technology and privacy and economics in the Tribune's Washington Bureau. He also reported for the Tribune from South Africa and covered politics and higher education.

James also reported for The Wall Street Journal for nearly 10 years.

James received a bachelor of arts degree in English from Dickinson College and now serves on its board of trustees.

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It's All Politics
7:20 am
Wed October 2, 2013

Wednesday Morning Political Mix

A visitor to the federally run Folk Art Center in Asheville, N.C., on Tuesday expressed the dismay many felt because of the government shutdown.
Chuck Burton AP

Originally published on Wed October 2, 2013 8:30 am

It's Day Two of the Federal Government Shutdown, 2013 edition with no end in sight.

So there's a heavy focus on shutdown-related items or themes today in this morning's political mix of items and themes that caught my eye:

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It's All Politics
6:21 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Shutdown Diary: War Of Words, And A Victory For Some WWII Vets

Veterans who came to Washington Tuesday to see the World War II memorial on the National Mall were able to complete their visit, although the memorial — like other federal museums and memorials — was officially closed to the public.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 8:33 pm

Day 1 of the federal government shutdown, 2013 edition, was business as usual, at least when it came to each side trying to win the message war and keep the pressure on the political opposition in the hope of getting them to blink first.

President Obama had a White House Rose Garden event to mark what also was the first day individuals were able to enroll in the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges. With real people who would benefit from the law arrayed behind him in a photo op, he used the moment to blast Republicans.

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It's All Politics
3:16 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

No Talks Underway To Resolve Shutdown

A sign announces the closing of the Statue of Liberty on Tuesday.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 6:53 pm

If you're wondering how long the shutdown will last, well, don't hold your breath.

As of this writing, there are no indications that talks are underway — or even in the offing.

Indeed, the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected House legislation Tuesday morning calling for a House-Senate conference to try to settle the disagreement behind the first federal government shutdown in 17 years.

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It's All Politics
7:30 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Countdown To Shutdown: A Closure Appears Inevitable

As the sun started its descent behind the U.S. Capitol building on Monday, it seemed virtually certain to rise on a partially shuttered federal government.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Monday's Highlights:

Only hours before a partial shutdown of the federal government would take effect, House Republicans still hadn't arrived at a temporary spending bill that Senate Democrats were willing to approve to keep government workers on the job. A closure appeared inevitable.

On Monday afternoon, Senate Democrats rejected a stopgap spending bill passed by the House over the weekend because it contained anti-Obamacare measures that Democrats found objectionable.

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It's All Politics
6:50 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Countdown To Shutdown: Obama Says 'Gears Of Our Economy' At Risk

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 7:25 pm

Friday's highlights:

As expected, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed its own version of a short-term spending bill. It's the version the House approved last week, minus language that would defund Obamacare. That effectively tossed the ball back to the Republican-controlled House.

And President Obama warned House Republicans to avoid the twin disruptions of a government shutdown (at midnight Monday) and a debt default (in mid-October).

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It's All Politics
8:58 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Friday Morning Political Mix

Some things even Washington dysfunction can't touch, like the sight of a new day dawning near the Washington monument.
J. David Ake AP

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 9:57 am

Good morning, fellow political junkies. We're now only a little more than three days away from a federal government shutdown if Congress and President Obama don't reach an agreement on a stop-gap budget measure by Monday evening.

So we start our daily look at some of the morning's more interesting political items there.

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It's All Politics
6:55 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Countdown To Shutdown: It's GOP Senator Vs. GOP Senator

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., looks at a countdown-to-shutdown clock during a news conference in the Capitol on Thursday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Thursday's highlights (and lowlights):

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid raised the possibility that the Senate might be able to finish its work on the budget bill by the end of the day, sending it to the House sooner rather later. If Republicans went along, that would give the House more time to act to avert a government shutdown next week.

Perhaps predictably, Republicans didn't go along. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, in particular.

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It's All Politics
8:45 am
Thu September 26, 2013

Thursday Morning Political Mix

A statue of George Washington, in the U.S. Capitol's Rotunda.
SAUL LOEB AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 9:13 am

Good morning, fellow political junkies.Today finds the Senate in continued debate aimed at reaching a legislative agreement that keeps the federal government open into the new fiscal year which starts Oct. 1.

Meanwhile, there seems to be a growing mood among congressional Republicans to test President Obama's resolve to not negotiate over raising the debt ceiling in a few weeks.

Here are some politically-connected items or themes that caught my eye this morning.

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It's All Politics
6:30 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Countdown To Shutdown: The Ted Cruz Show Comes To A Close

Democratic Sens. Harry Reid of Nevada and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan visited with mothers and babies at a Capitol Hill Obamacare event Wednesday.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 7:08 pm

Wednesday's Highlights

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ended his marathon Senate floor speech at noon when his appointed time ran out.

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It's All Politics
9:04 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Wednesday Morning Political Mix — Sept. 25, 2013

Sen. Ted Cruz, worked a rare Senate overnight shift as he kept up a lengthy diatribe against Obamacare (with many digressions.)
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 11:21 am

It's Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, which puts us five days away from a possible federal-government shutdown that would begin Oct. 1 if Congress fails to pass a stop-gap spending bill.

So the drama in the Senate over the spending bill leads the day's interesting political items and features Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. At this writing, Cruz was in the last gasps of an anti-Obamacare talkathon. That's where we start:

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It's All Politics
7:23 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

Countdown To Shutdown: 6 Days

Sen. Ted Cruz's anti-Obamacare strategy seemed to fall flat Tuesday with many of his fellow Senate Republicans.
C-SPAN.org screen shot

With just six days to go before the federal government is due to run out of money, it's becoming increasingly clear that Republican Sen. Ted Cruz's fellow GOP colleagues aren't following his lead in the anti-Obamacare fight.

That fact alone raises the odds of avoiding a government shutdown next week. It doesn't mean a shutdown won't happen, but it largely removes one of the major stumbling blocks — at least in the Senate.

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It's All Politics
9:28 am
Tue September 24, 2013

Tuesday Morning Political Mix

Yes, we know this is the Capitol Hill Peace Monument. But it seems a handy symbol for the partisan spending showdown in Washington.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue September 24, 2013 4:06 pm

A brief and abstract chronicle of some of Tuesday's more interesting political stories, the kinds of stories that might get people who like politics talking around a water cooler, if people still did that sort of thing.

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It's All Politics
7:03 am
Tue September 24, 2013

Some GOP Leaders Tee Up Cruz For Blame If There's A Shutdown

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is becoming the face of a possible government shutdown over Obamacare, and that has many fellow Republicans bashing him for what they see as an ill-conceived gambit.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue September 24, 2013 11:36 am

Just a week before the federal government could shut down if no agreement is reached to fund it past the end of September, it's anyone's guess whether Democrats and Republicans will avoid plunging over this particular cliff.

More certain, however, is that if a shutdown happens over Obamacare and Republicans wind up taking the heat, many GOP fingers of blame will point squarely at Sen. Ted Cruz.

The Texas Republican will likely become the face of the 2013 shutdown, just as Newt Gingrich became the poster boy of two government shutdowns of the mid-1990s.

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It's All Politics
11:09 am
Mon September 23, 2013

Monday News Clips: What We're Reading

J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 7:11 pm

We're kicking off a new morning routine in which we'll get the day started on NPR's It's All Politics" blog by sharing a handful of political stories that caught our interest or that we'll be watching.

Here are a few of them for Monday, Sept. 23:

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It's All Politics
2:53 pm
Sun September 22, 2013

EPA Gives Coal-State Democrats A Chance To Sound Republican

State and local leaders break ground at a Louisville, Ky., coal-burning power plant in November 2012.
Dylan Lovan AP

For Democrats running in coal-producing states like Kentucky and West Virginia, the Environmental Protection Agency's new limits on greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants provide a carboniferous chance to demonstrate independence from President Obama.

Those Democrats will probably take advantage of every chance they get to separate themselves from the president in voters' minds, since their Republican opponents will be working overtime to portray them as reliable Obama votes if they're elected to Congress.

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It's All Politics
11:56 am
Fri September 20, 2013

Food Stamp Fight: Great For GOP Base But Not For Outreach

During George W. Bush's presidency, Republican leaders won praise for expanding food assistance. Now the House GOP is drawing criticism for cutting it.
Matt Rourke AP

Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 3:34 pm

The Republican-controlled House's vote to cut $40 billion from the food stamp program is just the latest example of how the GOP balance of power has shifted rightward over the past decade.

President George W. Bush isn't fondly remembered by progressives for much. But anti-hunger advocates credited him during his administration for strongly supporting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (the formal name for food stamps) and other policies to help unemployed or low-income workers and their children escape the fear of not knowing where their next meals would come from.

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It's All Politics
6:03 am
Thu September 19, 2013

Conservative Lobbyist Derails Bipartisan 'Science Laureate' Bill

The U.S. Capitol at sunrise.
Jason Reed Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu September 19, 2013 11:24 am

No one who's been paying attention for, say, the past few decades, needs to be reminded of how extremely polarized Washington is.

So it's usually good news when Democrats and Republicans can come together on an issue, as they did recently to support the idea of creating the new honorary position of "Science Laureate of the United States."

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It's All Politics
5:13 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Atheists Start PAC To Elect Nonreligious Candidates

Bishop McNeil, who isn't a cleric despite his name, speaks to reporters Wednesday at a news conference to introduce the Freethought Equality Fund PAC.
Frank James NPR

Americans who count themselves among the "nones" — as in atheists, agnostics or those of no definite religious affiliation — have launched a new political action committee.

The goal? To support the election of like-minded lawmakers or, at a minimum, candidates committed to upholding the constitutional separation between church and state.

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It's All Politics
5:17 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

William Daley Has Left The Arena

William Daley, who was briefly President Obama's White House chief of staff, has long relished being the guy behind the guy who got elected. So his exit from the Illinois governor's race makes a certain kind of sense.
Paul Beaty AP

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 6:45 pm

When William M. Daley — son and brother of famous Chicago mayors, former Obama White House chief of staff and all-around Democratic pooh-bah — was President Clinton's commerce secretary, he kept in his office a framed passage from Theodore Roosevelt's "Citizenship in a Republic" speech.

"It's not the critic who counts. ... The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena."

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It's All Politics
2:32 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Summers' End: A Metaphor For Obama's Economic Agenda

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers speaks during a session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in 2011.
Michel Euler AP

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 4:35 pm

By taking his name out of consideration for the Federal Reserve chairmanship this weekend, Lawrence Summers became a metaphor for the difficulties President Obama has had in pursuing his economic agenda.

And the end of Summers, at least as Ben Bernanke's potential successor, signaled that the president's inability to get traction on his economic agenda is likely to get worse, not better. Now even lawmakers in his own party are willing to break with him on high-profile economic decisions.

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