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.

Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh, a Democrat, was appointed Friday to fill the unexpired term of longtime Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, who is leaving the Senate to serve as U.S. ambassador to China.

Walsh, 53, was already an announced candidate for the seat Baucus had planned to vacate at the end of this year. His appointment by Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock gives the former adjutant general of the Montana National Guard a leg up in the November contest to replace the six-term senator.

The White House on Wednesday rolled out a high-profile plan to help farmers and ranchers adjust to climate changes that have already begun to upend growing seasons and threaten livestock.

The "climate hub" initiative was praised by environmentalists, though they were quick to warn President Obama that it would not provide him cover on another environmental issue in the headlines: the Keystone XL pipeline.

Boston physician Vivek Murthy was expected to run into political headwinds Tuesday during his Senate confirmation hearing for the post of the nation's top doc — surgeon general.

Murthy, 36, the founder of a national physicians group that worked to pass the Affordable Care Act, was seen by some as vulnerable to GOP attacks because of his political work, his youth and his less-than-a-lifetime of public health experience — not to mention a few impolitic tweets guaranteed to rile conservatives.

Any expectation that a new State Department report would clarify the Keystone XL pipeline issue went up in smoke in recent days.

In the aftermath of a conclusion that downplayed the oil pipeline's potential effects on climate change, the issue has gotten even more politically complicated for the Obama White House. Environmentalists are ramping up their opposition to the proposed 1,179-mile pipeline, while Republicans have intensified their push for approval. As for Democrats, well, that depends on their election prospects.

Rep. Henry Waxman, (D-Calif.), a key architect of the Affordable Care Act and for four decades a ferocious liberal voice on matters of health and the environment, revealed Thursday that he plans to retire at the end of the year.

Waxman's news comes on the heels of a similar announcement from another liberal California "Watergate baby" elected in 1974, Rep. George Miller. Both are top allies of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, also of California.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking female Republican in the U.S. House, occupied a coveted spot Tuesday night: She delivered the televised rebuttal to the president's State of the Union.

Yet the Washington congresswoman and mother of three young children didn't have the spotlight to herself. She faced competition from within the ranks of her own party, a stark reflection of the divisions that have riven the GOP.

Just like the issues and themes that color the annual State of the Union speech, the list of White House invitees is intended to send a message about what an administration cares about and prioritizes.

The State of the Union guests, after all, are announced beforehand with biographies attached. And the typically staggered announcement of names allows the media to chew them over for several news cycles.

Wendy Davis' meteoric rise, from Texas state senator who barely won re-election to Democratic candidate for governor and darling of the national party, has hinged on her powerful personal story and a famous filibuster.

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."

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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