Andrea Seabrook

Andrea Seabrook covers Capitol Hill as NPR's Congressional Correspondent.

In each report, Seabrook explains the daily complexities of legislation and the longer trends in American politics. She delivers critical, insightful reporting – from the last Republican Majority, through the speakership of Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats' control of the House, to the GOP landslide of 2010. She and NPR's Peter Overby won the prestigious Joan S. Barone award for their Dollar Politics series, which exposed the intense lobbying effort around President Obama's Health Care legislation. Seabrook and Overby's most recent collaboration, this time on the flow of money during the 2010 midterm elections, was widely lauded and drew a huge audience spike on NPR.org.

An authority on the comings and goings of daily life on Capitol Hill, Seabrook has covered Congress for NPR since January 2003 She took a year-and-a-half break, in 2006 and 2007, to host the weekend edition of NPR's newsmagazine, All Things Considered. In that role, Seabrook covered a wide range of topics, from the uptick in violence in the Iraq war, to the history of video game music.

A frequent guest host of NPR programs, including Weekend Edition and Talk of the Nation, Seabrook has also anchored NPR's live coverage of national party conventions and election night in 2006 and 2008.

Seabrook joined NPR in 1998 as an editorial assistant for the music program, Anthem. After serving in a variety of editorial and production positions, she moved to NPR's Mexico Bureau to work as a producer and translator, providing fill-in coverage of Mexico and Central America. She returned to NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C. in the fall of 1999 and worked on NPR's Science Desk and the NPR/National Geographic series, "Radio Expeditions." Later she moved to NPR's Morning Edition, starting as an editorial assistant and then moving up to Assistant Editor. She then began her on-air career as a weekend general assignment reporter for all NPR programs.

Before coming to NPR, Seabrook lived, studied and worked in Mexico City, Mexico. She ran audio for movies and television, and even had a bit part in a Mexican soap opera.

Seabrook earned her bachelor's degree in biology from Earlham College and studied Latin American literature at UNAM - La Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. While in college she worked at WECI, the student-run public radio station at Earlham College.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's newly announced running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, has youth and experience. A conservative from a swing state, he has big ideas and the policy chops to back them up.

He also brings a kind of enthusiasm Romney could use: He's a darling of the conservative base that Romney has had a harder time winning over.

Among those on Mitt Romney's list of potential running mates, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan has youth and experience, he's a conservative from a swing state, and he has big ideas and the policy chops to back them up.

But the chairman of the House Budget Committee would not be the safest of choices.

Back in February, when the Republican primary was still in full swing and the party's right wing was conspicuously unhappy with the idea of Romney, tax hawk Grover Norquist spoke to the Conservative Political Action Conference.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Just last week, Republican leaders were warning their rank and file not to gloat if the health care law were overturned. Well, after the decision came yesterday, GOP leaders regrouped and vowed to keep fighting. NPR's Andrea Seabrook reports.

ANDREA SEABROOK, BYLINE: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor stepped up to the microphone.

REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CANTOR: If for nothing else, today's health care decision underscores the importance of this election.

Congressional leaders on Tuesday said they were close to a deal to solve two big issues facing lawmakers — student loan interest rates and federal highway funding.

Both issues with looming deadlines have high stakes for middle-income Americans: If Congress fails to reach agreements by this weekend, the federal highway program would come to a halt, and student loan interest rates would double, to 6.8 percent.

Student Loans

President Obama has been hammering on the issue of student loans for days.

The battering Mitt Romney took from Republican rivals during the primary made big news. What seemed less noteworthy at the time — the knocks he took from Republicans in Congress — is now much more significant if there is to be a President Romney.

"He's the least of the candidates running right now that would be considered a Tea Party candidate," Rep. Tim Scott, R-S.C., told CNN.

After Romney won Florida, GOP Rep. Allen West told CBS that Romney has to do a far better job in "making the appeal as far as being a strong constitutional conservative."

Several dozen wealthy donors have taken advantage of this post-Citizens United world, writing seven-figure checks to political superPACs.

Yet it seems there's something wealthy donors weren't counting on when they wrote those checks — attracting attention, including from the political opposition and the media.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker vastly out-raised and outspent his Democratic challenger in the state's recall election, largely on the strength of major donations from across the country.

One reason for that was a quirk in Wisconsin law, which lets a governor in Walker's situation bypass limits on political donations.

Wisconsin law says candidates for governor normally may not take donations of more than $10,000 each. That was the limit under which Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the Democrat, operated in the recall election being decided Tuesday at the polls.

Note: We've asked NPR journalists to share their top five (or so) political Twitter accounts, and we're featuring the series on #FollowFriday. Here are recommendations from reporter Andrea Seabrook (@RadioBabe).

I have a thing about political fakes on Twitter. I HATE them. And when I say fakes, I mean a handle that appears to be a senator or representative, but is very obviously written by some 22-year-old staffer.

A storm is brewing in Washington that could darken political debate for months to come. It's about the debt, the deficit, taxes and spending — all hot topics lawmakers have been fighting about for years now.

This time, though, there's a deadline, and the consequences of inaction would be immediate. That has many in Washington saying: Here we go again.

In the past week, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner have begun a new round of sparring over the U.S. debt ceiling.

This story is part of our series on money in politics.

We imagine the lobbyist stalking the halls of Congress trying to use cash to influence important people. But it doesn't always work that way. Often, the Congressman is stalking the lobbyist, asking for money.

The man driving the investigation into the General Services Administration, California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, took the top seat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee after the GOP won a majority in 2010.

Issa has led several splashy investigations since. But he's also been dogged by allegations of his own.

Issa has made news in recent months by threatening to subpoena Attorney General Eric Holder, and by calling a panel of only men to talk about women's contraception.

The Car Alarm Voice

This story is part of Planet Money's series on money in politics. This post was originally published on March 30. It was updated on April 6.

Most of the nitty-gritty action in Congress happens in committees.

Not surprisingly, campaign contributions flow to members of the committees that big donors are really interested in — like, say, the ways and means committee, which oversees the tax code.

This story is part of a Planet Money series on money in politics. Also see our story, "Senator By Day, Telemarketer By Night, and listen to us this weekend on This American Life.

Democrats love Nancy Pelosi. Republicans hate Nancy Pelosi.

One key reason for both the love and the hate: Nancy Pelosi is incredibly good at her job. And a huge part of that job is raising money.

President Obama flew out to Maryland's Eastern Shore on Friday to fire up his rank and file in Congress.

House Democrats have spent the past few days in their annual retreat, regrouping and strategizing for the year to come. Lawmakers say their hopes for success — in the economy and in politics — depend on sticking together and sending the same message to Americans.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Though millions of Americans watched the televised speech, the president's ostensible audience was right in front of him - Congress. His relations with many Republican lawmakers are icy at best. And even his alliances with Democrats had been put under stress at times in the past year.

The lawmakers' responses to the speech ranged from predictable to somewhat surprised. NPR's Andrea Seabrook listened to lawmakers after the speech.

The last battle scar of 2011 for the GOP came in December, when House Republicans painted themselves into a corner on extending unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut. The fight exposed the party's internal rifts and the loose control of its leaders.

One GOP lawmaker called it "a public relations fiasco." They could compromise with the Democrats or allow taxes to go up — neither option palatable to large portions of the majority.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now, for some perspective, New Hampshire accounts for a tiny portion of the delegates Republicans are competing for – just 5 percent. Bigger states later on in the election season will award many more delegates. But voters in the Granite State feel their votes serve as an important vetting process, a springboard for candidates. And NPR's Andrea Seabrook spent election day talking to those voters.

Rick Santorum has been upsetting elections from the beginning.

He was only 32 years old when he toppled a seven-term incumbent in a majority Democratic district in western Pennsylvania.

Just four years later, Santorum rode the Republican wave of 1994 into the Senate representing Pennsylvania. And from the beginning, Santorum has stood for unwavering social conservatism, especially on the issue of abortion.

"Give the baby a chance to live," said Santorum while delivering a speech on the Senate floor in 1997.

Conservative Tea Party-affiliated lawmakers spent weeks vowing to oppose the short-term compromise bill extending payroll tax cuts and unemployment insurance.

But in the end, the bill glided through the House, just before Christmas.

The final moments of this latest congressional showdown were fascinating not because of what happened but because of what didn't happen.

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is new to his front-runner status, but he's hardly new to Washington.

He has spent decades weaving relationships in and around government — starting with his successful campaign to win the House majority back in the early 1990s. Some of his most ardent supporters now worked with him back then — but some of his angriest opponents did, too.

'He's A Quality Guy'

Lawmakers have spent much of this year struggling to reach a deal that could get budget deficits under control. But the problem has been developing for at least a decade.

Young voters might not be familiar with the government of the year 2000 — at least not by its balance sheet. The economy: booming. Tax revenue: rolling in. Expenses for war: none. And to top it off, there was a $200 billion surplus.

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SCOTT SIMON, host: Now, listening to this news you may come away with an impression of Herman Cain beset by controversy and scandal. But at a Washington, D.C. conference hosted by the Conservative Americans for Prosperity group, Mr. Cain elicited a very different response. NPR's Andrea Seabrook has this report.

ANDREA SEABROOK: Judging by this crowd, Herman Cain has taken conservatives by storm.

FREDERICK MCKINLEY: Mr. Cain is wonderful individual.

SEABROOK: Frederick McKinley from Jackson, Mississippi.

Last month, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised almost double what its Republican counterpart took in despite that the GOP holds the majority in the House. One group of Republicans that seems to be having a tough go of it is that huge class of freshman Republicans who took 2010 by storm.

On Capitol Hill, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction has been very quiet. Also known as the supercommittee, it was created by Congress this summer and is tasked with finding at least 1.2 trillion dollars in cuts over the coming decade. But, so far, its members are keeping their ideas for doing that on the down-low — and that may be a good sign.

It's been weeks since the committee had an open hearing. In fact, it's only had three meetings total — the first of which was to set up its rules.

In a rare moment, two Supreme Court justices appeared before a Senate committee on Wednesday for a hearing about the role of judges under the U.S. Constitution. Among the topics of discussion was the granddaddy of all legal debates: how to interpret the Constitution.

Justice Antonin Scalia is a staunch conservative, what he calls an "originalist." He believes judges should determine the framers' original intent in the words of the constitution, and hew strictly to it.

President Obama said Thursday that Bank of America and other financial institutions are using new consumer protections as an excuse to charge new fees.

"I mean, basically the argument they've made is, 'Well, you know what, this hidden fee was prohibited, and so we'll find another hidden fee to make up for it,' " he said at a news conference.

What could help consumers? The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Obama says. The Senate Banking Committee on Thursday approved his nominee to head the new consumer advocacy agency.

The House or Representatives met for exactly 5 minutes and 2 seconds Thursday and — in less time than you can eat lunch — passed a spending bill that will keep the government up and running.

That is, for a few days, anyway.

How It Happened

At 11 a.m., an officer of the sergeant at arms threw open the doors of the House of Representatives to carry in the 4-foot ceremonial mace with the golden eagle on top.

Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) was in the chair and called on the House chaplain to give the prayer.

House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday unveiled his own jobs proposal. He also weighed in on President Obama's jobs plan. And in both instances, the Ohio congressman touted one main theme: the need to avoid raising taxes.

Tuesday's hearing in the supercommittee was supposed to be about the history of the current debt crisis. Almost nothing causes more partisan bickering than that. Each party is fervent in its belief about who drove the government into the ditch — namely, the other guys.

On Tuesday, however, Doug Elmendorf, the man who runs the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), immediately dispensed with the question of blame and laid out the options for the supercommittee.

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