Tamara Keith

Tamara Keith is a NPR White House Correspondent. She is especially focused on matters related to the economy and the Federal budget.

Prior to moving into her current role in January 2014, she was a Congressional Correspondent covering Congress with an emphasis on the budget, taxes and the ongoing fiscal fights. During the Republican presidential primaries she covered Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich in South Carolina, and traveled with Mitt Romney leading into the primaries in Colorado and Ohio, among other states. She began covering congress in August 2011.

Keith joined NPR in 2009 as a Business Reporter. In that role, she reported on topics spanning the business world from covering the debt downgrade and debt ceiling crisis to the latest in policy debates, legal issues and technology trends. In early 2010, she was on the ground in Haiti covering the aftermath of the country's disastrous earthquake and later she covered the oil spill in the Gulf. In 2011, Keith conceived and reported the 2011 NPR series The Road Back To Work, a year-long series featuring the audio diaries of six people in St. Louis who began the year unemployed and searching for work.

Keith has deep roots in public radio and got her start in news by writing and voicing essays for NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday as a teenager. While in college, she launched her career at NPR Member Station KQED's California Report, covering topics including agriculture and the environment. In 2004, Keith began working at NPR Member Station WOSU in Columbus, Ohio, where she reported on politics and the 2004 presidential campaign.

Keith went back to California to open the state capital bureau for NPR Member Station KPCC/Southern California Public Radio. In 2006, Keith returned to KQED, serving as the Sacramento-region reporter for two years.

In 2001, Keith began working on B-Side Radio, an hour-long public radio show and podcast that she co-founded, produced, hosted, edited, and distributed for nine years.

Over the course of her career Keith has been the recipient of numerous accolades, including an award for best news writing from the APTRA California/Nevada and a first place trophy from the Society of Environmental Journalists for "Outstanding Story Radio." Keith was a 2010-2011 National Press Foundation Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow.

Keith earned a bachelor's degree in Philosophy from University of California, Berkeley, and a master's degree at the UCB Graduate School of Journalism. Tamara is also a member of the Bad News Babes, a media softball team that once a year competes against female members of Congress in the Congressional Women's Softball game.

Pages

The Government Shutdown
3:37 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

GOP Shutdown Strategy Gives House A Twilight Zone Feel

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., holds a news conference Oct. 3 with the GOP Doctors Caucus — members of the House who are medical professionals by training — to talk about how the government shutdown is affecting medical research.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 4:51 pm

With little progress being made to resolve the government shutdown, House Republicans have decided on a piecemeal strategy.

They have been voting to reopen small pieces of the government — for example, on Wednesday, they approved bills paying for the Federal Aviation Administration and for death benefits to the families of service members.

Read more
Politics
3:17 am
Thu October 3, 2013

Why A Handful Of Hard-Liners Has A Hold On Boehner

House Speaker John Boehner speaks to the media after a meeting with President Obama at the White House on Wednesday.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 3, 2013 10:53 am

To understand House Speaker John Boehner's role in the government shutdown, you have to understand the 30 or so House Republican hard-liners and his relationship with them.

It's an uneasy one at best.

"Listen, we've got a diverse caucus," was how Boehner put it in mid-September, shortly after the 30 forced him to ditch his original plan for a temporary government funding bill.

"Whenever we're trying to put together a plan, we've got 233 members — all of whom have their own plan," he said. "It's tough to get them on the same track. We got there."

Read more
Politics
2:52 am
Wed October 2, 2013

Why Ted Cruz Looms Large In Government Shutdown Drama

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz speaks to local residents during a fundraising picnic for the Iowa Republican Party in Des Moines in July.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Originally published on Wed October 2, 2013 9:54 am

In the second day of a partial government shutdown, Congress is at a stalemate.

On Tuesday night, House Republicans tried to pass three small bills funding popular parts of the government, such as the national parks. But they failed. The White House had already threatened a veto.

That strategy, as with others in this fight, is credited to Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

Read more
NPR Story
6:22 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Senate Rejects House Spending Bill

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 8:09 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And on Capitol Hill, words of anger and frustration today over the increasing likelihood of a government shutdown. This morning in the House, members of both parties took to the floor and pointed fingers.

REPRESENTATIVE EARL BLUMENAUER: If you're serious about working together to solve problems, why don't you work together to solve problems?

REPRESENTATIVE TED POE: Where oh where has the Senate gone? Where oh where can they be? With time so short and issues so long, where oh where has the Senate gone?

Read more
Politics
2:42 am
Fri September 27, 2013

House GOP Leaders Gear Up For Debt Ceiling Battle

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 4:07 am

Even as the potential government shutdown drama remains unresolved, House Republican leaders are moving on to the next deadline: the debt ceiling. Economists say defaulting on payments could be catastrophic, but many House Republicans believe the debt ceiling is the best place to take a stand. Some even say the risk of default really isn't all that bad.

Politics
5:46 am
Sat September 21, 2013

What's Next In The Congressional Budget Showdown?

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks at a Republican rally Friday after the House passed a measure that would temporarily fund the government while crippling President Obama's health care law. The Senate is not expected to follow suit.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Sat September 21, 2013 9:34 am

The House has passed a stopgap spending bill that would keep the government open through Dec. 15. It passed almost entirely along party lines: In addition to funding the government, it calls for defunding of the Affordable Care Act.

The White House has said President Obama would veto the bill, were it to come to his desk in this form. And it most likely won't. Democrats, who control the Senate, won't pass a bill that defunds Obamacare.

Which raises the question, now what?

Read more
It's All Politics
1:28 am
Fri September 20, 2013

House Nears Vote To Fund Government, Defund Obamacare

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, talks about the deadline to fund the government Thursday on Capitol Hill.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 9:18 am

The Republican-controlled House is set to vote Friday on a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open for business through the middle of December. And the White House has already said if it makes it to the president's desk, he'll veto it. That's because the bill also would defund the Affordable Care Act.

Read more
Politics
2:27 am
Wed September 18, 2013

House Bill Would Cut 3.8 Million People From Food Stamp Rolls

Advocates for the poor say the proposed cuts to the food stamp program — $40 billion over 10 years — don't make sense at a time when unemployment remains high.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 2:44 pm

The House of Representatives is expected to take up a bill Thursday that would chart the course for federal nutrition programs for years to come.

The measure calls for $40 billion in cuts over a decade to the federal food stamp program, now known as SNAP. The measure's Republican backers say it attacks fraud, but advocates say it will hurt the poor.

Read more
Economy
3:18 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

CBO Report: Long-Term Deficit Picture Gloomy

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 3:34 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office just added fuel to the fire already raging in Washington over what to do about the deficit. A new CBO study paints a grim picture of the nation's long-term debt and deficit.

NPR's Tamara Keith reports that despite three years of fighting over it, Congress hasn't done much to improve things.

Read more
It's All Politics
10:03 am
Tue September 17, 2013

CBO Report Warns Of Long-Term Debt Problems

Copies of President Obama's proposed budget plan for fiscal year 2014 are prepared for delivery at the U.S. Government Printing Office in Washington in April 2013.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 2:04 pm

There's plenty of fodder for deficit hawks in a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. In short, the future looks grim.

The 2013 Long-Term Budget Outlook finds that although in the short term the deficit is expected to decline, it will grow again — and, ultimately, in a big way.

Read more
Politics
2:58 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Without Action, Government Will Shut Down At Month's End

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 3:44 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, the future shape of the economy will be influenced, in part, by negotiations in Congress this month. What could possibly go wrong? If Congress doesn't act by the end of this month, there will be a partial government shutdown and then in October a fight over the debt ceiling looms. Some Republicans want to rerun a tactic they used in 2011, refusing to borrow to pay for commitments Congress previously made unless the White House agrees to Republican budget demands. NPR congressional correspondent Tamara Keith has the latest.

Read more
Politics
4:18 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Conservatives Use Budget Deadline To Revive Obamacare Debate

Linda Norman (right) and Joanna Galt, both from Florida, hold their banners during a rally against the health care law Tuesday outside the U.S. Capitol.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Wed September 11, 2013 5:03 pm

With the pause button pushed on the congressional debate over Syria, the House is turning its attention back to the issue that is expected to dominate the fall: the budget.

The long-running fight over spending and the debt is back. The House was supposed to act this week to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month, and leaders had hoped to avoid drama. But the vote has been delayed, and drama is brewing.

Read more
It's All Politics
1:43 am
Mon August 26, 2013

In Arkansas, The Senate Battle Is Already Brutal

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., speaks at the Rice Expo in Stuttgart, Ark., on Aug. 2.
Danny Johnston AP

Originally published on Mon August 26, 2013 3:03 am

Read more
Politics
3:39 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Heritage Foundation Rallies Support To Defund Obamacare

The Heritage Foundation and its political activist arm Heritage Action are turning to the town hall format to try to stop the health care law. Foundation president and former GOP senator Jim DeMint was in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Monday night as part of a nine-city defund Obamacare tour.

Politics
3:11 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Floor Charts A Key Part Of Congressional Messaging

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 4:02 pm

Watch C-SPAN long enough and you'll see members of Congress using big visual aids, known by Capitol insiders as floor charts. We explore where the charts come from and how they've become an essential part of congressional messaging. (This piece originally aired on Morning Edition on July 23.)

It's All Politics
3:13 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

4 Years After Fiery Town Halls, Activists Try To Revive Spark

Members of the audience argue before a town hall forum on the health care overhaul hosted by Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, in Reston, Va., on Aug. 25, 2009.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 10:24 am

It's been four years since protests of the president's health care agenda boiled over in town hall meetings around the country.

The summer of 2009 marked the rise of the Tea Party movement and set in motion the GOP takeover of the House of Representatives the following year.

Read more
It's All Politics
1:29 am
Tue August 6, 2013

On The Road With Max And Dave: A Tax Overhaul Tour

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., (center) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., (right) speak about overhauling the tax code at the 3M Innovation Center in Maplewood, Minn., on July 8.
Hannah Foslien AP

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 7:18 am

Ask Americans about the most pressing concerns for the nation, and overhauling the tax code probably isn't all that high on the list — that is, unless those Americans happen to be Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the chairmen of the congressional tax-writing committees.

The two lawmakers are on a mission to simplify the tax code.

When they're out on the road selling that tax overhaul, they don't wear ties and they skip much of the formality of Washington — like last names even. Just call them Max and Dave.

Read more
Politics
12:58 am
Tue July 23, 2013

How Floor Charts Became Stars Of Congress

http://senatecharts.tumblr.com/

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 9:26 am

Watch C-SPAN long enough, and you'll see members of Congress using visual aids: big, brightly colored poster boards, known on Capitol Hill as floor charts.

They've become an essential part of congressional messaging.

Almost every day the House of Representatives is in session, lawmakers line up to give what are known as one-minute speeches. Florida Democrat Frederica Wilson is always there.

And she always has her floor chart with her. It displays the number of days since Wilson came to Congress and the number of Americans unemployed.

Read more
Politics
3:42 am
Fri July 19, 2013

IRS Now Under Fire From Democrats, Too

Originally published on Fri July 19, 2013 4:00 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In Washington, the man responsible for putting the IRS in the hot seat the last couple months found himself in the same harsh glare yesterday. The Treasury Department inspector general was grilled about which groups were flagged for extra scrutiny as they applied for tax exempt status. J. Russell George's reports focused on the targeting of Tea Party groups, but Democrats have released IRS documents showing liberal groups were also on watch lists. As NPR's Tamara Keith reports, they want to know why his report didn't mention this.

Read more
The Two-Way
5:02 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

READ: The Theft Complaint Filed Against Bachmann Aide

Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 10:11 am

Two envelopes filled with cash. A hidden camera. The office of a high-profile politician.

Sounds like a John Grisham novel.

The end result? Maybe not so dramatic.

As NPR's Tamara Keith tells us:

A now-former staffer for Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has been arrested for allegedly stealing cash from the desk drawer of a co-worker.

Read more
News
12:30 am
Sun July 14, 2013

A Bipartisan Duo Takes Tax Pitch On The Road

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. left, and Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., speak about overhauling tax policy to an audience at the 3M tech company on Monday.
Hannah Foslien AP

Originally published on Sun July 14, 2013 12:11 pm

Congress is setting up for a showdown this fall on the budget, the debt ceiling and possibly immigration.

But another item on the agenda hasn't been getting as much attention: changing tax policy. The chairmen of the two tax-writing committees have been working for years, holding hearings, releasing white papers, even hosting bipartisan tax chat lunches at a pub — often with little notice.

Dave Camp is a Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Max Baucus is a Montana Democrat and leads the Senate Finance Committee.

Read more
Politics
5:16 am
Sat July 13, 2013

If The IRS Targeted The Left, Too, Will The House Hear It?

Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland is a ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He's released documents that suggest that the IRS targeted progressives as well as Tea Party groups.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Sat July 13, 2013 11:43 am

The House Oversight Committee will hold its latest hearing next week into how the IRS handled the applications of groups seeking tax exempt status. The hearings have morphed from a scandal over the targeting of Tea Party groups into something broader.

It all started when a report from IRS Inspector General J. Russell George said groups with Tea Party in their name were targeted for extra scrutiny for possible political activity. When asked if progressive groups were also targeted, he said no.

Read more
It's All Politics
7:44 am
Fri July 12, 2013

Top Democrat Says Documents Show IRS Also Targeted Liberals

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (right) speaks with the committee's ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings, during a hearing last month.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 10:04 am

Newly released documents appear to further undermine the idea that Tea Party groups were the only ones given extra scrutiny by the IRS for potential political activity.

Read more
Politics
2:53 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Resurrected Farm Bill Passes Without Food Stamps Component

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 3:55 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. The farm bill is back. Three weeks ago, the House surprised Hill watchers when Democrats and Republicans alike voted against the bill. Well, today, they passed it - narrowly. In today's bill, though, a huge component was missing. As NPR's Tamara Keith reports, House leaders stripped out the section of the bill that deals with food stamps.

Read more
It's All Politics
4:18 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Inspector General Changes Tune On IRS Scandal

Outgoing acting Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Steve Miller (right) and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George are sworn in before a full House Ways and Means Committee hearing in May.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 28, 2013 11:10 am

Changing its story. Walking it back. Clarifying.

Whatever you call it, the IRS inspector general now has a different account of what investigators knew about the ideologies of the groups that underwent extra scrutiny as they sought tax-exempt status.

Inspector General J. Russell George explained in a letter released Thursday morning that investigators knew all along "progressives" were listed in documents used by IRS agents to screen applications.

Read more
Politics
4:23 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Democrats Want Answers On 'Progressives' Targeted By IRS

Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., listens as ousted IRS Chief Steve Miller and J. Russell George, Treasury inspector general for tax administration, testify during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on May 17.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Tue June 25, 2013 5:07 pm

Congressional Democrats say Tea Party groups weren't the only ones being targeted by the Internal Revenue Service. And they have released some documents that they say prove it.

Read more
Business
2:46 am
Tue June 25, 2013

IRS Systematically Targeted 'Progressive' Groups Too

Originally published on Tue June 25, 2013 9:10 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

The scandal at the Internal Revenue Service is becoming more of a muddle. We're learning more this morning about which groups were targeted for extra scrutiny. Turns out both conservative groups and progressive groups were on the so-called Be on the Lookout List at the IRS. Meanwhile, the man currently leading the agency says an internal investigation has found no evidence of intentional wrong doing.

Read more
Politics
2:34 am
Fri June 21, 2013

House Votes Down 5-year Farm Bill

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 3:22 am

Members of the House on Thursday rejected the measure, studded with Republican priorities. In the past, the farm bill has been a model of bipartisan support. But defections in both parties spelled the bill's doom.

Politics
12:11 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

4 Facts You Might Not Have Known About The IRS Scandal

Dennis Brack Landov

Originally published on Mon July 8, 2013 11:52 am

For a little more than a month now, we've been reporting on the IRS's flagging of Tea Party and conservative groups for extra scrutiny. Through it all, some basic questions remain: Who ordered the targeting? And why?

We don't have any satisfying answers to those questions yet — and it seems neither do the congressional investigators. But along the way, as new revelations have trickled out, we've noticed some surprising and even puzzling facts about the situation that haven't gotten much attention.

Here are four of them:

Read more
It's All Politics
7:34 am
Wed June 19, 2013

IRS Staffer: 'What I Did Was Not Targeting'

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (right) speaks with the committee's ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings, earlier this month, during a hearing on IRS conference spending.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Wed June 19, 2013 9:18 am

Another interview with a key IRS employee, another oblique connection to Washington, D.C., and yet still no explosive revelations in the scandal surrounding the agency's targeting of Tea Party groups.

That, it seems, was precisely the point of Rep. Elijah Cummings' decision to release 205 pages of redacted interview transcripts Tuesday (here and here).

Read more

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