And even before Edward Snowden and his leaks made NSA surveillance the subject of dinner table conversations all over American, President Obama said he wanted a debate about the right balance between security and civil liberties. The Snowden revelations made sure that Mr. Obama got one. NPR's Mara Liasson reports on how the political calculus is working at the White House.
MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: The president's new senior advisor, John Podesta, describes what Mr. Obama wants Americans to understand.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. President Obama today is set to announce the changes he would like to make in the way the National Security Agency keeps track of Americans and foreigners. He will speak at the Justice Department, six months after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden prompted a fierce debate in this country and abroad by exposing previously secret NSA surveillance programs.
Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn announced last night that he is giving up his Senate seat early at the end of this congressional session. His departure won't affect the balance of the Senate. But something that might affect the House - this week, several Democrats there said they won't be running again, which could add to an already uphill battle the party is facing in its effort to win back control of the House.
A massive $1.1 trillion spending bill has gained Senate approval, allowing Congress to send a wide-ranging bill to President Obama for his signature. The massive bill will prevent any gaps in government funding as well as take some of the sting out of automatic spending cuts.
Republican Ed Gillespie announced Thursday that he's challenging Democratic Virginia Sen. Mark Warner in November's election. Gillespie, a senior adviser to Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race, is shown here at Romney's election night rally in Boston on Nov. 6, 2012.
Republican hopes of picking up the six seats needed to capture the U.S. Senate include a suddenly interesting race in Virginia.
Ed Gillespie, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a top White House aide to President George W. Bush, announced Thursday that he'll challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Warner in Virginia.