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!

Nov 22, 2013

  • JFK and the Hope that Lingers

    By Todd S. Purdum, Politico

    Fifty years ago this fall, as he broke ground at Amherst College for a library named in honor of Robert Frost, John F. Kennedy testified to the power of poetry in public life.

    Read more
  • U.S. Senate Goes 'Nuclear,' Changes Filibuster Rules

    By Susan Davis and Richard Wolf, USA Today

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pushed through a controversial change to Senate rules Thursday that will make it easier to approve President Obama's nominees but threatens to further divide an already polarized Congress.

    Read more
  • The Old Senate Was Already Dead

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    If West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd were still in the Senate, it would be fascinating to see which side of the recent filibuster debate he would take. Byrd was a defender of Senate traditions, which caused him to warn his Democratic colleagues against changing the filibuster rules, but as majority leader, it was Byrd who in 1980 pushed to weaken filibuster rules. Whatever his view, Byrd’s baroque oration would have drawn from Shakespeare (he quoted from all 37 plays in his 50-year career) and Cicero. But Byrd passed away three years ago. The Senate club whose rules he knew so well and righteously defended passed away some time ago too, though the exact date is not known. So today's change was merely a rule that codified an established fact: The Senate club is no longer what it once was. Or, as Byrd might put it, today's change made what was de facto now de jure.

    Read more
  • 'Enough is enough,' Obama Says, Praises Vote to End Filibusters

    By Christi Parsons and Michael A. Memoli, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama said Thursday he supported a move by Senate Democrats to stop the use of the filibuster to block presidential appointments, arguing that Republicans had used the Senate’s rules to “gum up the works.”

    Read more
  • Negotiators Say They’ll Continue to Work on Budget Deal to Replace Sequester

    By Lori Montgomery, Washington Post

    Congress left town Thursday without a deal to avoid a government shutdown in the new year, but lead negotiators for both parties said that they will continue to work over the Thanksgiving break and that they are optimistic about reaching an agreement.

    Read more
  • On ACA, Democrats Need More Offense, Less Defense

    By Amy Walter, Cook Political Report

    With no sign that the troubled roll-out of Obamacare will be getting better any time soon, there is growing speculation that nervous Congressional Democrats will ultimately join GOPers in calling for the law to be scrapped. That would be foolish. More importantly, it also won’t insulate them from the political fall-out in 2014.

    Read more
  • Iran Talks Resume After Negotiators Cite Little Progress

    Talks aimed at resolving the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program resumed in Geneva after negotiators for six world powers failed to make progress yesterday.

Nov 21, 2013

  • Iran Talks Enter Critical Phase as France Signals Unity

    By Jonathan Tirone, Indira A.R. Lakshmanan & Kambiz Foroohar, Bloomberg News

    Diplomats seeking to reach an interim accord to ease a decade-long standoff over Iran’s nuclear program began a critical phase of talks today, an Iranian negotiator said.

    Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Geneva, according to an EU statement. U.S. and Iranian negotiators were also set to have direct talks this morning, according to the U.S. delegation.

    Read more
  • Budget Talks Inch Toward Progress

    By Damian Paletta and Janet Hook, Wall Street Journal

    With time running short, budget negotiators report they are continuing efforts to reach a small-scale fiscal agreement that could replace some of the across-the-board spending cuts. But big hurdles remain and it is unclear whether a package can secure bipartisan support by a mid-January deadline.

    Read more
  • Obamacare Tradeoffs: Now They Tell Us …

    By John F. Harris and David Nather, Politico

    President Barack Obama is suffering the worst season of his presidency because people are mad that critical parts of the Affordable Care Act are not working the way they are supposed to work.

    Read more
  • Obama Linking to Business in CEO Outreach Sessions

    With Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg News

    Bloomberg White House correspondent Julianna Goldman reports on the White House extending its outreach to corporate America, inviting CEOs to meetings on issues with common links in the agendas of their businesses and the Obama Administration.

    Watch more
  • Work on Sexual Assault in Military Signals Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s Evolution

    By Ed O’Keefe, The Washington Post

    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) stood on the Senate floor for hours Wednesday dominating a debate over how the Pentagon should manage sexual assault and rape in the ranks.

    Read more
  • Rep. Trey Radel of Florida to Take Leave of Absence After Guilty Plea to Cocaine Charge

    By David A. Fahrenthold, Keith L. Alexander and Sari Horwitz, Washington Post

    Late on a Tuesday evening, at a Dupont Circle bistro that serves $11 mojitos, the congressman and the undercover officer talked about cocaine.

    Read more

Nov 20, 2013

  • Obama's Reversal of Fortune

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    When it comes to his healthcare law, President Obama faces a political version of what insurance folks call "adverse selection": All the bad news is sticking to him and most of the good news is sticking to someone else.

    Read more
  • Senators May Give Obama More Time on Iran

    President Obama gained some additional time Tuesday as members of Congress continued to weigh tighter economic sanctions against Iran, though they appeared to defer possible action at least until next month.

    Read more
  • McConnell to House GOP: Hold the Line on Sequester

    By Janet Hook, Wall Street Journal

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) crossed the Capitol today to urge House Republicans to stand firm against efforts to ease across the board spending cuts, at a time when House-Senate negotiations to replace those cuts have stalled.

    Read more
  • Poll: 6 in 10 Support Changing How Military Handles Sex Assault Cases

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    Nearly six in 10 Americans believe that decisions on whether to prosecute allegations of sexual assault in the U.S. military should be made by an independent group of military prosecutors instead of within the military chain of command, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

    Read more
  • Obama Intensifies CEO Outreach as Tea Party Draws Business Ire

    By Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg News

    During a meeting in the West Wing of the White House this month, President Barack Obama’s aides posed an unusual question to business leaders across the table: How can the administration help House Speaker John Boehner?

    Obama’s interest in helping Boehner is part of a broader White House effort to enlist executives to support Republicans who are willing to deal with the administration. It’s also aimed at exposing divisions within the opposition party.

    Read more
  • Attorney General Eric Holder on $3 Billion Settlement from JP Morgan

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

    Watch more

Nov 19, 2013

  • A Dirty Secret Lurks in the Struggle Over a Fiscal ‘Grand Bargain’

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    The long-sought bipartisan “grand bargain” on the nation’s fiscal future is not going to happen this year, and probably not for the rest of President Obama’s term. There is the simple, familiar reason. And then there is the dirty secret.

    Read more