Pam Fessler

Pam Fessler is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where she covers poverty, philanthropy, and voting issues.

In her reporting at NPR, Fessler does stories on homelessness, hunger, affordable housing, and income inequality. She reports on what non-profit groups, the government, and others are doing to reduce poverty and how those efforts are working. Her poverty reporting was recognized with a 2011 First Place National Headliner Award.

Fessler also covers elections and voting, including efforts to make voting more accessible, accurate, and secure. She has done countless stories on everything from the debate over state voter identification laws to Russian hacking attempts and long lines at the polls.

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Fessler became NPR's first Homeland Security correspondent. For seven years, she reported on efforts to tighten security at ports, airports, and borders, and the debate over the impact on privacy and civil rights. She also reported on the government's response to Hurricane Katrina, The 9/11 Commission Report, Social Security, and the Census. Fessler was one of NPR's White House reporters during the Clinton and Bush administrations.

Before becoming a correspondent, Fessler was the acting senior editor on the Washington Desk and NPR's chief election editor. She coordinated all network coverage of the presidential, congressional, and state elections in 1996 and 1998. In her more than 25 years at NPR, Fessler has also been deputy Washington Desk editor and Midwest National Desk editor.

Earlier in her career, she was a senior writer at Congressional Quarterly magazine. Fessler worked there for 13 years as both a reporter and editor, covering tax, budget, and other news. She also worked as a budget specialist at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, and was a reporter at The Record newspaper in Hackensack, New Jersey.

Fessler has a master's of public administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and a bachelor's degree from Douglass College in New Jersey.

The U.S. poverty rate declined slightly last year, but finally fell below the 2007 level, right before the Great Recession pushed millions of Americans out of work and into financial distress.

The improving economy was a key factor in the decline. The U.S. Census Bureau noted in its annual report on income and poverty that there were 2.3 million more full-time, year-round workers last year and that median earnings for all such workers rose by more than three percent.

Millions of families in the U.S. struggled to get enough food to eat last year, but conditions appear to be getting better as the economy improves.

In a new report released Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says that about 11 percent of households — just over 14 million — had trouble putting enough food on the table last year and that in about 4 percent of households, someone went hungry because there was not enough money to buy food.

With five months before primary season begins, election officials around the country are busy buying new voting equipment.

Their main focus is security, after Russians tried to hack into U.S. election systems in 2016. Intelligence officials have warned that similar attacks are likely in 2020, from either Russia or others intent on disrupting U.S. elections.

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The Trump administration is moving forward with regulations that are expected to dramatically reshape the U.S. immigration system by denying green cards and visas to immigrants who use — or are expected to use — a wide range of federal, state and local government benefits, including food stamps, housing vouchers and Medicaid.

The final version of the "public charge" rule, which has been a top priority for immigration hard-liners in the White House, is set to be published in the Federal Register on Wednesday.

Where children grow up can have a big impact on how well they do as adults. Good schools, safe streets, better environment — all can make a difference. The government has tried to use housing subsidies to encourage low-income families to move to better neighborhoods, but past efforts have fallen short. A new experiment in the Seattle area is showing some promise.

The Trump administration wants to change the way states determine who qualifies for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits, also known as food stamps. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 3 million people would lose their food assistance as a result.

The nation's intelligence agencies have designated one person to be in charge of coordinating the government's efforts to identify threats to U.S. elections.

The move by Dan Coats comes as intelligence officials warn that the 2020 elections remain susceptible to attacks from foreign governments or others intent on disrupting the process.

Updated at 9:28 a.m. ET

If you listen carefully, you'll hear something unusual on the presidential campaign trail this year. Democratic candidates are talking a lot about the lack of affordable housing, an issue that rarely, if ever, comes up in an election. They're trying to tap into a growing national concern, as well as a potential voting bloc.

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Updated Aug. 27, 2019, 9:55 a.m. ET

The Trump administration is moving forward with a wave of new rules and regulations that would make it more difficult for low-income Americans — especially those in families that include non-citizens — to get government aid. NPR detailed many of the proposals in June, but there have been several developments since then.

The Department of Homeland Security has finally agreed to conduct a thorough inspection of election equipment used in North Carolina that was supplied by a vendor whose system was targeted by Russian hackers in 2016.

It has been three years since the machines — laptops used to check in voters in Durham County — malfunctioned on Election Day, telling voters that they had already voted, even though they had not.

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