Essential Reads

Essential Reads is your one-stop source for the top stories of the day as reported by your favorite Washington Week panelists. It's a simple way to save time and stay informed about the news you need to know. Check it out every day!

Jun 05, 2013

  • The Garden State’s Decider

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    One of the reasons being governor is good training for the White House is that you are forced to react to unexpected and politically-sensitive events. When a hurricane hits, you must manage the emergency response, comfort the victims, and wring money from the federal government. When a senator from the other party dies, you have to appoint his successor without appearing to look politically craven. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has faced both of these tests in short succession. The former has burnished his credentials at home, while the latter, pressed on him yesterday by the death of the 89-year-old liberal stalwart Sen. Frank Lautenberg, offered a more perilous moment. Christie had been running for re-election minimizing his Republican credentials in the heavily blue state, campaigning as a can-do problem solver, but immediately he had a partisan political problem dropped in his lap.

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  • IRS Employee Conferences Cost Taxpayers $49 Million

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    A division of the Internal Revenue Service spent $4.1 million on a conference in 2010 in Anaheim, Calif., that included "questionable expenses" for keynote speakers, video production and gifts for IRS employees, according to an audit released Tuesday by the Treasury inspector general for tax administration.

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  • Tea Party Tempest is Brewing

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    The tea party is back and is brewing trouble for the Republican establishment.

    After the GOP debacle in the 2012 election, when Republicans not only failed to win the presidency but blew a chance to take over the Senate, party leaders paused to consider what had gone wrong.

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  • Summers’ Agenda for Obama-Xi Summit

    By David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

    Larry Summers, the former U.S. Treasury secretary who is now back at Harvard, talked, among other things, about China at a Seib & Wessel breakfast Wednesday. He said three big economic issues ought to be on the table whenPresident Barack Obama and China’s Xi Jinping meet next week in California.

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Jun 04, 2013

  • Top Military Commanders to Testify on Sexual Assault

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    Military leaders will face Congress in a hearing on the epidemic of sexual assaults in the military.

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  • DNA Samples Allowed in Arrests for Serious Crimes

    With Pete Williams, NBC News


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  • 7 women to watch at the military sexual assault hearing

    By Ed O'Keefe and Sean Sullivan, The Washington Post

    Military and political history will be made Tuesday when all six members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff testify at the same time before the Senate Armed Services Committee about the rising rate of sexual assaults among members of the military.

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  • Analysis: With trademark vigor, Justice Scalia dissents in DNA case

    By Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    Justice Antonin Scalia can seem among the most predictable of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices, voting conservative and regularly siding with law enforcement over individuals. But then comes an exception like Monday, when Scalia launched a fiery dissent from the bench to a decision permitting police to take DNA swabs from people arrested.

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  • IRS Playing 'Dance Video Defense'

    With John Harwood, CNBC

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  • Congressional Town Halls Held Less Frequently, Despite Hot Issues

    By Thomas Beaumont and Charles Barbington, Associated Press

    From her front row seat at the Fort Dodge Public Library, pugnacious retiree Betty Nostrom wasted no time grilling the U.S. senator standing before 80 constituents over how he was investigating the deaths of four Americans in Libya last fall.

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Jun 03, 2013

  • When was the Last Time Congress Met for Four Consecutive Weeks?

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    Wait a second: This is just the second four-week stretch of the year? Yes, it is indeed.

    The last time the House and Senate met for four consecutive weeks without a recess was from Feb. 25 to March 21. Since then, lawmakers have left Washington for extended Easter, May Day and Memorial Day breaks. The next prolonged recess is scheduled for the week of July 4.

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  • Seeking a Fresh Start, Holder Finds a Fresh Set of Troubles

    By Peter Baker, Charlie Savage and Jonathan Weisman, The New York Times

    At the end of last year, with the election decided and the Obama administration in office for four more years, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. considered stepping down. He decided against it, in part because before he left he wanted to move beyond the disputes that had characterized his tenure, accomplish some of the goals he had set for the job and leave on his own terms.

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  • 'Tea party' Tempest Brewing

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    The "tea party" is back and is brewing trouble for the Republican establishment.

    After the GOP debacle in the 2012 election, when Republicans not only failed to win the presidency but blew a chance to take over the Senate, party leaders paused to consider what had gone wrong.

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  • Senate Republicans Tiptoe Around Activist Base

    By Reid Wilson, National Journal's Hotline

    Republicans scheming to take back control of the Senate next year are walking a delicate line between the politically pragmatic decisions they need to make to win and an activist base that sees a nefarious, hidden agenda in Washington's meddling. And no one finds himself confronting those sometimes competing interests more than Jerry Moran, the Kansas Republican who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

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  • U.S. and China Agree to Hold Regular Talks on Hacking

    By David E. Sanger and Mark Landler, The New York Times

    The United States and China have agreed to hold regular, high-level talks on how to set standards of behavior for cybersecurity and commercial espionage, the first diplomatic effort to defuse the tensions over what the United States says is a daily barrage of computer break-ins and theft of corporate and government secrets.

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  • Lessons from Britain for the GOP?

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    Three years ago, newly elected British Prime Minister David Cameron was seen as a possible model for Republicans here looking to update their party after losing the 2008 presidential election. Today, he provides an object lesson in the stumbling blocks that can lie in wait.

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May 31, 2013

  • Scripps Spelling Bee Champion, 13, Reflects on Win

    With David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

    In an interview with WSJ's David Wessel, 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion Arvind Mahankali reveals the training he undertook to win his title, whether the televised competition is too demanding and what he'll do now with all his free time.


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  • IRS Aside, Political Passions Take a Summer Break

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Four years after the summer of rage that fueled the tea party movement, the political circuit is much quieter — even in Republican bastions like this. It’s not clear whether conservatives who rallied against President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul during raucous town hall-style meetings are tired, wary, complacent or simply saving their strength for a big push in next year’s elections.

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  • Obama, Congress Reenact Battle Over Student Loan Rates

    By Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama complained about the looming interest rate hike on student loans in a Rose Garden event Friday morning and urged Americans to call, write and tweet their Republican members of Congress to do something about it.

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  • What Does an Improving Economy Mean for 2014?

    By Amy Walter, Cook Political Report

    Good economic times are good for incumbents. After all, voters are more apt to look for change in tough times than they are in good ones.

    Significant economic anxiety contributed to the "wave" elections of 2008 and 2010. In 2012, the economy improved just enough to help President Obama win re-election.

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