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!

Sep 12, 2013

  • Kerry Consults Kissinger on Getting to Yes With Russians

    By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan, Bloomberg News

    Secretary of State John Kerry consulted with Henry Kissinger, the 90-year-old embodiment of Cold War foreign policy, before heading off to negotiate with his Russian counterpart over Syria’s chemical weapons.

    Read more
  • Senate Sets Aside Resolution on Military Strike Against Syria

    By Karen DeYoung and Ed O’Keefe, Washington Post

    The Senate on Wednesday at least temporarily put aside a resolution to authorize the use of force against Syria as the Obama administration appealed for patience while it explored Russia’s proposal to monitor and ultimately destroy Syria’s chemical weapons.

    Read more
  • GOP Split on 'Obamacare' Delays Budget Vote

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    A divide within the Republican Party over whether to use upcoming budget votes to defund and delay President Obama's health care law forced House Republicans to push off until next week a vote on a stopgap spending bill to keep the federal government running through mid-December.

    Read more

Sep 11, 2013

  • Obama’s Plea

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    President Obama’s address about his Syria policy felt like the policy itself at times. He went ahead with it just because he promised he would. The purpose of the East Room address was to rally the country and members of Congress to support a military strike against Syria, but the Congressional vote to do so has been postponed while a possible diplomatic solution is pursued. So the president’s speech was like delivering a locker room speech after the rain delay had been called.

    Read more
  • President Obama’s Zig vs. Zag

    By John Harris, Politico

    Two weeks of zig-zag foreign policy by President Barack Obama — marching to war one moment, clinging desperately to diplomacy the next — culminated Tuesday night, appropriately enough, in a zig-zag address to the nation that did little to clarify what will come next in the Syria crisis but shined a glaring hot light on the debate in the president’s own mind.

    Read more
  • An Unlikely Evolution, From Casual Proposal to Possible Resolution

    By Peter Baker and Michael R. Gordon, The New York Times

    The afternoon gathering of world leaders was just breaking up in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Friday when President Vladimir V. Putin walked over to President Obama and began chatting casually. Mr. Obama suggested they sit down, and the two pulled chairs into a corner of the room.

    Read more
  • G.O.P. Eyes Hard Line Against Health Care Law

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    The House Republican leadership signaled Tuesday that Republicans would support an essential increase in the nation’s debt limit in mid-October only if President Obama and Democrats agree to delay putting his health insurance program into full effect — a demand that sets the stage for another economically risky confrontation.

    Read more
  • House Republicans battle over leaders’ new budget bill

    By Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post

    House Republican leaders unveiled a plan Tuesday to keep the government open past Sept. 30, but were scrambling to build support within their own ranks after conservatives savaged the proposal for failing to defund President Obama’s health initiative.

    Read more
  • Immigration Legislation Booms in State

    By Reid Wilson, Washington Post

    The drive to reform the nation’s immigration laws may be stalled in Congress, but the national debate it has inspired is at least partly responsible for a spike in new laws passed in state legislatures around the country.

    Read more

Sep 10, 2013

  • Russian Proposal Could Offer Obama Escape From Bind

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    President Obama woke up Monday facing a Congressional defeat that many in both parties believed could hobble his presidency. And by the end of the day, he found himself in the odd position of relying on his Russian counterpart, Vladimir V. Putin, of all people, to bail him out.

    Read more
  • Obama in the Box

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    President Obama is on the verge of creating a new foreign policy dictum: A national security threat requiring military action that cannot be justified without congressional approval isn't enough of a national security threat to get congressional approval. This isn't an iron clad truth yet, but as the president faces enormous hurdles convincing Congress to support his action in Syria, it defines the fix he is in.

    Read more
  • Senate Delays Syria Vote As Obama Loses Momentum

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    President Obama's push for congressional approval for military airstrikes in Syria ran aground Monday, forcing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to delay a procedural vote as opposition builds among senators in both parties.

    Read more
  • Bashar al-Assad: A Tyrant in Full

    By James Kitfield, National Journal

    Perhaps it’s the mournful gaze, or the starched Western suits, or the quiet reticence of a middle son who grew up in the shadow of a more dynamic brother. There might even be a trace of the eager-to-please manner of the ophthalmologist he seemed destined to become. Whatever it is about his demeanor, powerful men and women chronically underestimate Bashar al-Assad.

    Read more
  • Jewish Lawmakers Under Pressure on Syria

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    With John Kerry and other supporters of U.S. military action against Syria comparing Damascus to Nazi Germany, the Obama administration is putting extraordinary pressure on members of Congress to approve a strike meant to punish Bashar al-Assad for using chemical weapons.

    But even Jewish members of Congress – for whom such Holocaust references are particularly powerful – are struggling with whether to authorize action. In fact, while Jewish lawmakers are more supportive of military strikes than the House and Senate at large, they remain divided.

    Read more
  • The United States of Weakness

    By John F. Harris and Alexander Burns, Politico

    Red lines that may or may not be real, retaliatory strikes that may or may not be hours from launch, congressional debates that may or may not be necessary for the president to do what he wants—whatever that happens to be this hour.

    Read more

Sep 09, 2013

  • Will US Strike Syria Without House Majority Vote?

    With John Harwood, CNBC

    Watch more
  • Congress Returns With Long To-Do List, Short Timetable

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Congress returns Monday with 39 legislative days scheduled before the end of the year to debate the most consequential foreign policy vote under President Obama, resolve pressing budget deadlines and determine whether an immigration overhaul has a fighting chance before the 2014 elections.

    Read more
  • Syria Adds to Congress' Already Heavy Fall Agenda

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Congress’ September agenda, already destined to be tense and dramatic, got worse while lawmakers were away this summer. Now they end their five-week recess by plunging into an emotional debate over whether to launch missile strikes against Syria.

    Read more
  • Obama to Visit Capitol Hill to Make Case for Syria Strike

    By Jeff Zeleny, ABC News

    President Obama is planning to visit Capitol Hill on Tuesday, making his case on Syria face-to-face with senators, ABC News has learned.

    The president is scheduled to meet with Senate Democrats at their weekly policy luncheon, two Democratic aides said, intensifying his outreach as part of the administration’s push for military strikes with Syria. He could also meet with other members of Congress, particularly those who remain undecided on Syria, officials said.

    Read more
  • To Strike, Or Not To atrike, Syria?

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    After two weeks of furious debate about whether the United States should attack Syria, the arguments on both sides are now clear.

    Haven't been paying attention? Still undecided? Here are the most cogent arguments for and against a military strike.

    First, the case for intervention.

    Read more