Returning to Washington after the holiday break, House Republicans called on the Senate to "act first" and avert the fiscal cliff. With prospects still murky for a deal before year's end, Gwen Ifill and guests discuss what government workers, Wall Street investors and taxpayers can expect if lawmakers miss the deadline.
Pope Benedict greeted thousands of followers on Christmas Day, calling for an end to violence in Syria and better resources for the displaced and wounded. In Nigeria, in a region where a radical Islamic sect has previously staged attacks, gunmen killed five Christians. And in Newtown, Conn., worshippers marked a somber holiday.
Death, resignation and high-profile jobs have resulted in an unusual number of newly competitive Senate openings. Roll Call's Shira Toeplitz and NewsHour political editor Christina Bellantoni walk through with Gwen Ifill the political cause and effect of congressional vacancies in Massachusetts, Hawaii and South Carolina.
In a wide-ranging and personal interview Secretary of Education Arne Duncan talked to Gwen Ifill about growing up in Chicago, saying, "Gun violence has haunted me my entire life." In his first interview since the tragedy, he described how crimes against school children during his tenure as superintendent of the Chicago public school system shaped his own views on guns. And, while warning "it will never be the entire solution," Duncan looked at the role government can start to play in trying to solve these problems.
The White House stepped up its response to Sandy Hook by planning to give Congress recommendations on preventing mass shootings, from mental health services to gun control laws. Gwen Ifill talks to Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., who is pushing for statewide bans in Illinois on assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines.
As funerals continued for shooting victims in Newtown, Conn., the White House and congressional leaders called for new gun legislation. Gwen Ifill speaks with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, who explained that while there may be no easy solution, "Enough is enough."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, has pledged to revive a law banning assault weapons at the opening of the next session of Congress. Gwen Ifill talks to Feinstein about the chances a new ban will pass after its 2004 expiration, and how it might eventually make weapons like those used in the Sandy Hook shooting less available.
While the endorsement of the Syrian National Council could pave the way for more international aid, questions remain over whether countries such as the U.S. will provide military assistance to rebels. Gwen Ifill talks to Atlantic Council's Fred Hof and National Defense University's Murhaf Jouejati about what's next for Syria.
Socially liberal and fiscally conservative, Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-Penn., leads the centrist New Democratic Coalition, serving as a go-between between House leaders and moderate lawmakers. Gwen Ifill talks to the congresswoman for an update on budget negotiations and finding a solution before Christmas.
In a lame-duck session, Michigan Republicans approved a pair of bills that would make the Great Lakes State into a "right to work" state. Organized labor was furious, accusing politicians of pushing through legislation with no opportunity for public comment. Gwen Ifill talks to two Michigan lawmakers with differing views.