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!

Jul 26, 2013

  • For Holder, An Intersection Of The Personal And Political

    By Carrie Johnson, NPR

    Hours before Attorney General Eric Holder announced he would seek new federal powers to protect minority voters in the state of Texas, the country's top law enforcement officer mingled at a Washington event about a topic that hit close to home.

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  • Obama to Continue Economic Push

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    President Obama this afternoon will continue his focus on improving the economy for the middle-class with a stop in Jacksonville, Fla., to call attention to the federal government’s fast-track permitting for port improvements there and in four other cities.

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  • Boehner Scolds Rep. King for ‘Hateful’ Immigration Comments

    By Jeff Zeleny, ABC News

    House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday scolded a fellow Republican congressman for suggesting that many children of undocumented immigrants known as DREAMers are drug smugglers.

    “There’s no place in this debate for hateful or ignorant comments from elected officials,” Boehner said as he opened his weekly news conference at the Capitol. The sharp words were aimed at Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who stirred controversy earlier this week when he said the children should not be given special legal status because “for everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there” who bring drugs across the border.

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  • Obama Administration Caught In The Middle On Iran

    With Tom Gjelten, NPR

    The election of Hassan Rouhani as Iran's president has presented the Obama administration with a policy challenge. Rouhani was the most moderate of the presidential contenders, and analysts see improved chances for breaking the impasse over Iran's nuclear program. But Congress is moving in the other direction, enacting even tougher sanctions. The Obama administration seems caught in the middle.

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  • Obama’s Summer Swoon. We’ve Been Here Before

    By Amy Walter, Cook Political Report

    Obama’s approval ratings are on a slide. Polls out this week from Pew, ABC/Washington Post, McClatchy/Marist and NBC/Wall Street Journal all show the president’s approval ratings lower than they’ve been all year, and in some cases lower than they’ve been since 2011. Polling taken this summer in key battleground states like Iowa, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Wisconsin, Florida and Ohio all show the president upside-down in his job approval/disapproval ratings.

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  • Hillary Clinton Finds Converts on Capitol Hill

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Hillary Clinton hasn't yet made her intentions known on a 2016 presidential bid, but prominent voices on Capitol Hill are letting her know they stand ready to support her if she runs.

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Jul 25, 2013

  • Holder: Justice Dept. will contest Texas redistricting

    By Pete Williams, NBC News

    Despite the Supreme Court's ruling in late June that weakened the Voting Rights Act, Attorney General Eric Holder says the Justice Department will use what's left of the law to go after what it considers discriminatory practices.

    And the first target will be Texas, in a dispute over new boundaries drawn by the Republican legislature for congressional and legislative districts.

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  • Obama: The Problem With Economy Is Washington

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    American presidents cannot be expected to manage the world, but they certainly can manage the executive branch, and therein lies one of Barack Obama's persistent challenges.

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  • Senate Passes Student Loan Fix

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Despite strong opposition from liberals, the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate approved a bill Wednesday to tie federal college loan rates to financial markets to retroactively roll back an unpopular July 1 rate hike.

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  • Proposal to Restrict NSA Phone-Tracking Program Defeated

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    A controversial proposal to restrict how the National Security Agency collects Americans’ telephone records failed to advance in the House by a narrow margin Wednesday, a victory for the Obama administration, which has spent weeks defending the program.

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  • Russia Might Grant Snowden Temporary Asylum

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

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  • Huma Abedin steps into High-Profile Role as Anthony Weiner’s Chief Defender

    By Karen Tumulty and Jason Horowitz, The Washington Post

    It was his news conference, but it was hard to take your eyes off her.

    With Huma Abedin’s emergence as her husband’s chief defender and protector in a second sex scandal, she made a public transformation from being the victim of Anthony Weiner’s transgressions to a full partner in his ambition.

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  • The Summer of Self-Hate

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    We all get a little exhausted just before summer vacation. Proof of that in Washington is that President Obama and House Republicans head into the vacation period embracing the same tired theme: how bad Washington is. That’s why President Obama traveled to Illinois and Missouri today to deliver speeches on the economy. The point of the excursion, White House aide Dan Pfeiffer told reporters in an email, is that the president thinks "Washington has largely taken its eye off the ball when it comes to the economy.” President Obama told volunteers that he will concentrate on “how we need to put behind us the distractions and the phony debate and nonsense that somehow passes for politics these days and get back to basics, refocus on what it is that everybody is talking about around the kitchen table, what people are talking about day to day with their families.”

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Jul 24, 2013

  • Obama Focuses on Economy, Vowing to Help Middle Class

    By Peter Baker and Michael D. Shear, The New York Times

    President Obama tried to move past months of debate over guns, surveillance and scandal on Wednesday and reorient his administration behind a program to lift a middling economy and help middle-class Americans who are stuck with stagnant incomes and shrinking horizons.

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  • Anthony Weiner Admits to Sexting Scandal ... Again

    With Jeff Zeleny, ABC News

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  • Weiner Admits More Lewd Conduct, Vows to Stay in New York Mayoral Race

    By Karen Tumulty, The Washington Post

    Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former congressman who polls suggest is a leading candidate for mayor of New York, admitted Tuesday that he engaged in a series of sexually explicit communications with a young woman on the Internet.

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  • Most Americans Say Nation is Headed Off Track: NBC-WSJ Poll

    By John Harwood, CNBC

    Months of partisan bickering in Washington have taken a toll on the political standing of every power center in the capital, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll has found.

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  • The Good Shepherd

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    When John Boehner was sworn in as speaker of the House, he was handed an enormous gavel. But when he was recently describing his role as a legislative leader, it sounded like a shepherd's crook would be more useful. In an interview on Face the Nation on Sunday, Boehner said his job was not to dictate to Republican members what legislation they should support but merely to "facilitate" a process where they found their own outcome. He didn't dare offer an opinion about comprehensive immigration reform because it would interfere. "It's not about me," the speaker told Bob Schieffer. "It's not about what I want. What I've committed to, when I became speaker, was to a more open and fair process. And as difficult as this issue is, me taking a hard position for or against some of these issues will make it harder for us to get a bill ... If I come out and say, ‘I'm for this’ and ‘I'm for that,’ all I'm doing is making my job harder."

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  • Will Republicans Lose Primaries Over Immigration Reform?

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    Republican congressmen fear for their political lives. That's the explanation you most often hear for the GOP's reluctance to approve a comprehensive immigration bill: The members of the House of Representatives, most of whom come from strongly Republican districts, worry they'll lose primaries to conservative challengers if they vote for what opponents consider an "amnesty" bill.

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  • A FISA court devil's advocate

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a tribunal that oversees government eavesdropping, is a strange judicial creation. It lacks many of the usual features of a court. Its proceedings are secret. Its rulings are secret.

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