Brakkton Booker

Brakkton Booker is a producer/reporter for NPR's political unit. He has spent most of the 2016 presidential cycle covering the race for the GOP nomination.

When he's not on the campaign trail, Booker produces pieces from the White House, Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court and other federal agencies for NPR News magazines including Morning Edition and All Things Considered. He previously served as the network's lead producer from the Louisville campaign headquarters of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014. Booker served in a similar capacity during the 2012 presidential campaign producing pieces from the Republican and Democratic National conventions as well as from President Obama's reelection site in Chicago.

In the summer of 2014, Booker took a break from the politics grind to report on the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.

Booker earned a bachelor's degree from Howard University and is was a 2015 Kiplinger Fellow. When he's not working he enjoys discovering new brands of whiskey and playing golf.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

With a deadline looming and pressure on lawmakers escalating, a large bipartisan, bicameral conference committee gathered on Capitol Hill Wednesday for the first formal negotiations of the Farm Bill.

Many on the committee — which includes a whopping 56 conferees — reiterated that it is imperative that work on the new Farm Bill be completed this month — before the current one expires on Sept. 30.

But the biggest sticking point between the competing House and Senate bills has to do with changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, often called food stamps.

For the first time in what historians say could be centuries, hemp has been grown and harvested at Mount Vernon, George Washington's historic estate.

In the 1760s, Washington predicted that hemp could be a more profitable crop than tobacco and grew it across his farm. At the time, hemp was abundant in Virginia and elsewhere in the U.S.

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Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is accusing tech behemoth Facebook of engaging in housing discrimination, according to a complaint filed on Friday.

In it, HUD says the social media giant allows landlords and home sellers access to advertising tools that limit which prospective buyers or tenants can view certain online ads based on race, religion, sex, disability and other characteristics.

Ben Carson, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, proposed on Monday new changes to an Obama-era rule aimed at combating segregation in housing policy.

Carson wants the rule to focus more on reducing the regulatory burdens of local jurisdictions and on giving them more control, while encouraging actions that bolster housing choice and increase housing supply.

Top Maryland lawmakers announced Friday they were informed by the FBI about links between a Russian oligarch and the software company that services parts of the state's voter registration systems.

Officials said there is no evidence of a breach in the system, but wanted to keep the public informed. State officials said the connections were alarming enough to ask the state's attorney general to review the contract Maryland has with the company.

When Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson was crafting his rent reform proposal for Americans living on housing assistance earlier this year, he spoke to leaders at the Charlotte Housing Authority in North Carolina about their work requirements.

The "Making Affordable Housing Work Act" would allow housing authorities more flexibility to impose work requirements on tenants, which Carson said helps promote self-sufficiency.

Whichever candidate breaks through the crowded field of Democrats to win Maryland's gubernatorial primary Tuesday, will likely face an uphill battle in the fall, trying to deny popular incumbent Republican Gov. Larry Hogan from securing a second term.

Four years after his surprise victory, Maryland's Republican governor enjoys sky-high approval ratings in a state where Democrats have a veto-proof majority in the state legislature, control both U.S. Senate seats and all but one of the U.S. Congressional districts.

By a razor-thin margin, the House of Representatives passed its version of the farm bill Thursday as Republican leadership was able to round up just enough support from members of its conservative wing to clear passage.

The GOP-backed measure, which covers farm and food policy legislation, passed 213-211.

The $867 billion package renews the safety net for farmers across the country, but also includes tougher work requirements for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Program or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps.

Three months ago the students from South Florida established themselves as a potent force in the gun debate with the March For Our Lives rally. This summer they're hitting the road with a new mission: turn the wave of young activism they helped spark into an energized voting bloc for the November mid-term elections.

At the annual end-of-year peace march in Chicago, organized by St. Sabina Catholic Church, Grammy-winners Chance the Rapper and Jennifer Hudson, along with former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, joined the Parkland survivors to launch a bus tour called Road to Change.

Comedian Dave Chappelle was the star attraction at a campaign event in suburban Washington on Friday, where he took part in a rally for longtime friend and Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous.

"So you know, I'm out of my element," the stand-up comic told an enthusiastic crowd at Olde Towne Inn in Largo, Md., a short drive from Washington, D.C. "You know politics has never been my thing."

The Trump administration's school safety commission held its first public listening session Wednesday, a day after the panel's chair, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the commission wouldn't focus on guns.

Alessia Modjarrad, a graduating high school senior from Montgomery County, Md., spoke at the day-long event at the Education Department in D.C. She said the few solutions being offered by the administration were "misguided and insufficient."

High school seniors who survived the deadly shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, just two weeks ago, graduated Friday.

On Sunday, the 2018 class at a Parkland, Fla. high school, where a gunman killed 17 people, will also receive their diplomas.

It was in the days after that Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that survivors-turned-advocates became a national force in calling for tighter gun regulation in the U.S.

And for students, it's also been a lesson in patience.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa resigned Tuesday, days after federal prosecutors charged him with failing to file three years of federal tax returns.

Mayor Catherine Pugh announced that she has accepted De Sousa's resignation and launched a national search to find a replacement. She also told residents that De Sousa's departure, just a few months after he started in that position, will not deter the city from fighting crime.

Thousands of low-wage workers, faith leaders and civil rights advocates are expected to descend on more than 30 state capitals and Washington, D.C. today to relaunch a fight against poverty, war and income inequality that first took root half a century ago.

The original 1968 Poor People's Campaign was a multicultural, multi-faith coalition planned by Martin Luther King. It brought thousands of Americans living in poverty to the national mall to demand better living conditions and higher wages.

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Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson wants Americans living on housing assistance to put more of their income toward rent and he wants to give public housing authorities the ability to impose work requirements on tenants.

Under current law, most tenants who get federal housing assistance pay 30 percent of their adjusted income toward rent, and the government kicks in the rest up to a certain amount.

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If Republicans in Congress have their way, millions of people who get food aid through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) will have to find a job or attend job training classes for about 20 hours each week, or lose their benefits.

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Editor's note: This story contains language some may find offensive.

After the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s murder in Memphis 50 years ago this week, protests and civil unrest erupted in some 125 cities across the nation. Baltimore though was eerily calm in the first two days following the civil rights leader's assassination, before mournful tranquility gave way to anger and resentment.

For more than a week, hundreds of homes and businesses were torched and more than 5,000 National Guard troops were deployed to restore order.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Some Washington, D.C.-area residents have created a free home-share network to provide lodging for hundreds of students traveling to the nation's capital on Saturday to demand action to end gun violence.

The "March for Our Lives" rally was spearheaded by student survivors in the immediate aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month in Parkland, Fla, where 17 people were killed.

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Now to Florida. This afternoon in Tallahassee, Governor Rick Scott met with loved ones of the 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month. Scott also signed legislation tightening gun restrictions in the state.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're going to start this morning with this historic change in Florida, where the state legislature has passed new gun restrictions for the first time in 20 years.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Updated at 7:40 p.m. ET

Florida lawmakers have approved a package of gun control measures designed to prevent another mass shooting like the one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last month.

The state House voted 67-50 to approve changes such as raising the legal age for buying rifles and imposing a three-day waiting period for all gun sales. The measure also allows for the arming of some school personnel.

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