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 09, 2013

  • Will US Strike Syria Without House Majority Vote?

    With John Harwood, CNBC

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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Sep 06, 2013

  • White House Looks to Syria Vote as Rudder for Rest of Term

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    President Obama and his advisers view the coming decision on military action against Syria as a potential turning point that could effectively define his foreign policy for his final three years in office. As he lobbied world leaders at a summit meeting here in person and members of Congress back in Washington by telephone on Thursday, Mr. Obama argued that a failure to act would be an abdication of the so-called indispensable role played by the United States since the end of the cold war, leaving no one to step in when international bodies fail to.

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  • Obama, From Russia, Urges U.S. Lawmakers to Back Strike on Syria

    By Ed O'Keefe and Philip Rucker, The Washington Post

    President Obama scrambled with senior advisers Thursday to soften resistance to a military strike against the Syrian government among U.S. lawmakers and some of Obama’s most reliable global allies.  Obama has staked the credibility of the United States — and his presidency — on his call for a military operation to punish the Syrian government for its alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians last month.

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  • Pentagon Is Ordered to Expand Potential Targets in Syria With a Focus on Forces

    By David Sanger and Eric Schmitt, The New York Times

    President Obama has directed the Pentagon to develop an expanded list of potential targets in Syria in response to intelligence suggesting that the government of President Bashar al-Assad has been moving troops and equipment used to employ chemical weapons while Congress debates whether to authorize military action.

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  • The Fun-House Mirror That Is the Syria Decision

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Alan Lowenthal has a headache.  Who can blame him? The freshman House member, a California Democrat, is genuinely torn—torn up, really—over whether to vote for military strikes against Syria. After a classified briefing Wednesday in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he was heading back to Long Beach, no closer to a decision than before.

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  • August Town Halls Tell Us Nothing

    By Amy Walter, Cook Political Report

    Before Syria took center stage this weekend, the media attention on Congress had been focused on what Members learned while home for August recess. Given the large number of important issues Congress will have to confront this fall – immigration, health care, the debt ceiling, sequestration, etc. – it would make sense to hear what regular Americans have been telling their local representatives about those issues over the summer recess.

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Sep 05, 2013

  • Obama Says ‘World Set a Red Line’ on Chemical Arms

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    President Obama declared on Wednesday that the confrontation with Syria over chemical weapons was not a personal test for him but for Congress, the United States and the world as he worked to strengthen support at home and abroad for a punitive strike.

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  • Kerry Turns From Anti-War Protester to Syria Salesman

    By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan, Bloomberg News

    When an anti-war protester interrupted a congressional hearing on Syria this week to yell, “We don’t want another war,” Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged the irony that he first appeared before the same Senate panel 42 years ago as an anti-war activist.

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  • The Syria Mission Is Risky

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    After almost 30 years in the Senate, Secretary of State John Kerry should’ve known that Senate hearings are supposed to be free of news. As Sen. John McCain proved, you can even sit through them and play online poker. So it was unusual and exciting to hear Kerry say Tuesday during his testimony in front of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations that he could not promise with metaphysical certitude that ground troops would not be needed in Syria. ““I don’t want to take off the table an option that might or might not be available to a president of the United States to secure our country,”

    A few minutes later, though, Kerry tried to reverse himself, not only clearing the table but trying to seal the room. “Let’s shut that door now,” to ground troops, Kerry said.

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  • House Panel Debate Shows Divide over Syria Resolution

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    The Obama administration's push for congressional approval of military strikes on Syria continued Wednesday in the GOP-led U.S. House, where Secretary of State John Kerry compared inaction against Syria to early efforts to appease Nazi Germany.

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  • Senate Committee Approves Resolution Authorizing U.S. Strike on Syria

    By Anne Gearan, Ed O’Keefe and William Branigin, Washington Post

    The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution Wednesday granting President Obama limited authority to launch a military strike on Syria in response to its reported use of chemical weapons against civilians.

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  • The Democratic Congressman Who Thinks He Can Stop the Syria War

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    A "conscience vote": That's the congressional euphemism for an issue on which partisan loyalties are so scrambled that lawmakers must make up their own minds. Both Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner have used the term to describe the authorization of military force in Syria, meaning they won't be "whipping," or pressuring members to vote a certain way.

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Sep 04, 2013

  • Obama Says World Set a ‘Red Line’ on Syria

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    President Obama declared on Wednesday that the confrontation with Syria over chemical weapons was not a personal test for him but for Congress, the country and the world as he worked to strengthen support at home and abroad for a punitive strike.

    Read more
  • Senate Use-of-Force Resolution on Syria Coming Together

    By Jeff Zeleny, ABC News

    A new Senate use-of-force resolution on Syria is coming together tonight, which would set a 60-day deadline for President Obama to act with limited military strikes.

    The final language was still being worked out tonight, Senate aides tell ABC News, but the proposal also would specifically restrict U.S. ground troops from being used.

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  • The Risks of U.S. Military Action Against Syria

    With Indira Lakshmanan, Bloomberg News Watch more
  • Allies’ Intelligence Differs on Details, but Still Points to Assad Forces

    By David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt, The New York Times

    The British say that there have been 14 Syrian chemical attacks since 2012 and that the last, the most horrific, killed “at least 350” Syrian civilians. The Americans count fewer attacks, but put a stunningly higher, quite precise number on the casualties: 1,429.

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