White House

It's not hard to reach presidential candidate Ryan Shepard; he doesn't have a media relations office or a slick-tongued press secretary.

Shepard, 40, is a bartender at Roc Brewing Co. in Rochester, N.Y., while also working toward a bachelor's degree in creative writing at nearby SUNY Brockport. He plans to enroll in an master of fine arts writing program after he graduates.

He is also just as much a candidate for U.S. president as Ted Cruz, who was billed by many as the first and only candidate to file so far.

(This post was last updated at 8:08 p.m. ET.)

After a process that has tested international alliances and divided politicians at home, President Obama said that Iran and six world powers had come to a preliminary understanding about Iran's nuclear program. The framework agreement was reached after years of multilateral negotiations.

Even before he became president, Barack Obama was imagining the possibilities of a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran. His willingness to reverse decades of official U.S. hostility was one of the things that set Obama apart on the campaign trail.

"We have to have a clear break with the Bush-Cheney style of diplomacy that has caused so many problems," Obama told NBC's Meet the Press in November 2007.

With Tuesday's deadline for an international deal on Iran's nuclear program approaching, foreign ministers from Iran and six world powers are trying to hash out an agreement. The debate currently centers on where Iran's nuclear fuel should be stored, and how — and when — economic sanctions should be lifted.

Other details, such as rules controlling enrichment, the length of the deal and how it would be enforced, also remain unsettled.

The White House

Sunshine Week is supposed to be dedicated to transparency and openness in government, but President Barack Obama's administration seems to have thumbed its nose at the idea by announcing that the executive office would not comply with Freedom of Information Act requests.  

Obama To Prince Charles: We'll Never Be Royals

Mar 19, 2015

President Obama may be having some postcode envy.

As members of the press corps poured into the Oval Office in the White House to get pictures of Obama and Prince Charles, Obama whispered to Charles, "I think it's fair to say that the American people are quite fond of the royal family."

He went on: "They like them much better than they like their own politicians."

Prince Charles, laughing, gave the only polite answer he could in return: "I don't believe that."

Barack Obama let down his graying presidential hair a little bit on Wednesday. He also joked about coloring it.

Speaking to the City Club of Cleveland, Obama seemed to be in a reflective mood. During the question-and-answer period, he was asked by a seventh-grader what advice he would give to himself now, if he could go back to his first day in office.

President Barack Obama didn't exactly go out on a limb with his college-basketball picks this year.

Like most people, he picked Kentucky to run the table, go 40-0, and win the NCAA Tournament. He also picked three No. 1 seeds and one No. 2 to make it to the Final Four.

"I don't think you can play a perfect basketball game anymore than you can do anything perfectly," the president said of Kentucky, "but these guys are coming pretty close."

The president did mix in a little politics.

A test on an envelope that arrived at the White House Mail Screening Facility on Monday indicates that it contains cyanide, according to the Secret Service. The agency did not announce to whom the letter was addressed. Further tests are being conducted to confirm the results.

Secret Service spokesman Robert Hoback says:

As Republican leaders in the House and Senate unveil their proposed budgets this week, here is the most important thing to remember about the federal budget: It isn't really a budget.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says while there has been some progress in talks with Iran over its nuclear program, "important gaps" need to be overcome before a deal can be reached by a late March deadline.

"We have made some progress but there are still gaps, important gaps, and important choices that need to be made by Iran in order to move forward," Kerry said.

Updated at 5:45 p.m.

Secretary of State John Kerry sharply criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "judgment" on talks with Iran on its nuclear program — the latest Obama administration official wading into the controversy stirred by the Israeli leader's planned talk to Congress on March 3 on the dangers posed by the Islamic republic.

Updated at 4:04 p.m. ET

The White House has notified the Senate that President Obama has, as promised, vetoed congressional legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project.

"Through this bill, the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest," Obama said in the notification to the Senate.

Updated at 1:05 p.m. ET.

The head of Veterans Affairs has apologized for misrepresenting his military record, after telling a man that he had served in the U.S. Special Forces. Secretary Robert McDonald says he made a mistake.

The story drew attention late Monday, weeks after McDonald, an Army veteran and West Point graduate, made the claim during a conversation with a homeless man he met during a community outreach effort.

NPR's Quil Lawrence reports:

Looking to take back a city that has high strategic and symbolic value, the Iraqi military will launch an offensive against fighters from the self-proclaimed Islamic State in the coming months, a senior U.S. military official says.

NPR's Tom Bowman reports:

"A U.S. Central Command official told reporters at the Pentagon that the military operation to retake Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, will be in the April-May timeframe, and this operation will involve an estimated 20,000-25,000 Iraqi soldiers.

Four months after he was brought back to an agency that was struggling to cope with a series of embarrassing missteps, Joseph Clancy was named the permanent director of the Secret Service on Wednesday.

Clancy has been the agency's acting head since the service's director, Julia Pierson, resigned in October. He is the former leader of the Secret Service's Presidential Protective Division.

Denise Chan / Creative Commons

White House officials are worried that proposed legislation from House Republicans would transfer money from poor school districts to wealthy ones. But this is already happening across the country after changes made under the current administration.

The funding program called Title I was created to give federal money to the poorest schools in the country, yet, for at least the last two years, wealthy schools have been getting Title I cash.

This Post Was Last Updated At 5:15 p.m. ET.

Two days before the first of President Obama's executive actions on immigration were to take effect, the new rules have been put on hold by a federal judge's ruling in South Texas. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen said the president overstepped his authority.

White House

President Barack Obama is asking Congress to formally authorize war against Islamic State militants.

The request is limited to three years, with no restriction as to where U.S. forces could pursue the threat.

Obama's proposal bans "enduring offensive combat operations," an ambiguous term intended as compromise between lawmakers who want authority for ground troops and those who don't. In a statement delivered Wednesday, Obama said his request "does not call for the deployment of U.S. ground forces to Iraq or Syria." He said local forces are in the best position to fight a ground war.

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy is one of those opponents to ground forces.

"We’ve got to be smart about this fight," he said. "A smart strategy recognizes that combat troops, in the end, are just going to become bulletin board material for terrorists to bring even more forces to the fight in the Middle East, and across the globe."

There may not be any officially declared candidates for president yet, but prominent Republicans from Jeb Bush to Rand Paul and Marco Rubio are making big speeches and jostling for consultants and donors. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton may not formally announce whether she is running for months. But any number of polls would indicate, without even declaring, she has a lock on the Democratic nomination.

Which got me thinking — who are the other potential Democratic candidates?

Updated at 12:03 p.m. ET

President Obama says he wants to work with Congress to "replace mindless austerity with smart investments that strengthen America," in remarks that came hours after the release of his $3.99 trillion budget proposal, which is already drawing criticism from Republicans.

Updated at 3:20 p.m. ET

The Secret Service has identified a device that was found overnight on the White House grounds as a "quad copter." The agency says the person who had been operating the device reported that it crashed after they lost control.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, the Secret Service said an individual called around 9:30 this morning to "self-report" the crashed copter. The agency adds that the person has been cooperative, and that the incident seems to stem from "recreational use of the device."

Outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, speaking to NPR's Morning Edition, says he's concerned about retaining qualified U.S. military service members amid the "stress and strain" of more than 13 years of continuous warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Updated at 8:25 a.m. ET

President Obama announced Sunday that the U.S. and India have made progress on civilian nuclear trade. In a joint news conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, Obama said the countries had agreed to more cooperation in other areas as well, including defense and climate change.

Sophia Paris / United Nations

As U.S. and Cuba officials wrap up their first high-level talks in decades, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro is leading a call for an end to the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program.

Creative Commons

President Obama courted controversy with his own party in the State of the Union by again calling for a key Asian trade deal to be fast-tracked.

The Trans Pacific Partnership is opposed by some senior Democrats, who believe it will lead to a loss of jobs here. 

Obama is asking to be given the authority to negotiate the deal without congressional oversight. Connecticut’s Third District Representative Rosa DeLauro said that’s not acceptable.

Delivering his sixth State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama faced a Congress that's now controlled by his Republican opponents. His speech included possible areas of cooperation — and a threat to use his veto power.

Tax proposals that would boost middle-class families were in the president's speech; so were calls for a new approach to immigration and a push for free education at community colleges.

Obama also called on Congress to pass a resolution to authorize using military force against the extremist group ISIS.

As President Obama prepares for the State of the Union address tonight, some Democratic members of Congress are opposing one of the White House’s proposals.

On the education front, President Obama's State of the Union address is likely to focus on three big proposals:

First, the president wants to talk about the idea he floated last week of making community college tuition-free. This is new.

The plan would benefit about 9 million full- and part-time students and would cost the federal government about $60 billion over 10 years. According to the administration's numbers, that would account for three-fourths of the total cost. States and community colleges would come up with the rest.

President Obama begins his seventh year in office Tuesday facing a Congress where both the House and Senate are in the hands of the opposition party. He shares this in common with every other president fortunate enough to even have a seventh year in office since the 1950s.

Dwight Eisenhower in 1959, Ronald Reagan in 1987, Bill Clinton in 1999 and George W. Bush in 2007 all climbed the rostrum for this late-in-the-game challenge looking out at majorities of the other party in both chambers.