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!

Jan 06, 2014

  • The President's Hump Year

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    The sixth year of a two-term presidency is rarely kind.

    The public's initial romance with the president has faded. The brief momentum he thought he earned by winning reelection has faded too. The White House doesn't set the agenda any more; events are in charge now.

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  • NJ Daily For Congress, A New Year But Same Problems

    By Faye Johnson, National Journal

    Obamacare. Immigration. Unemployment benefits. These were some of the biggest issues to occupy Congress last year—and they will again this year, with new fights already brewing as lawmakers return to Washington.

    With almost every politician eyeing the midterm elections in November, these and a handful of other issues will define many congressional campaigns.

    Here are five top issues to watch in Congress this year.

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  • Did John Boehner Win the Shutdown in the End?

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    The government shutdown was supposed to doom Republicans forever. But less than three months later, things look very different.

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  • US spy court: NSA to keep collecting phone records

    By Stephen Braun and Kimberly Dozier, Associated Press

    A secretive U.S. spy court has ruled again that the National Security Agency can keep collecting every American's telephone records every day, in the midst of dueling decisions in two other federal courts about whether the surveillance program is constitutional.

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  • Liz Cheney Ends Wyoming Senate Bid, Citing Family Health Concerns

    By Jeff Zeleny and Rick Klein, ABC News

    Liz Cheney, the 47-year-old daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is dropping out of the Senate race in Wyoming because of serious health issues in her family.

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Jan 03, 2014

  • When a 2nd-Term President and a Divided Congress Made Magic

    By John Harwood, The New York Times

    The modesty of last month’s federal budget deal, and the difficulty of achieving even that, make Washington’s more ambitious 2014 goals appear out of reach.

    Could a divided government possibly overhaul the tax code and immigration system in a single year, not to mention with a lame-duck president facing midterm elections?

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  • What's Ahead in Politics in 2014

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    And lo, another year dawns on the barren landscape of the American polity, that vast, frigid tundra full of people yelling at each other. The year begins on an interesting note: Congress will soon return to Washington for the first time since passing a bipartisan budget agreement last month; the new mayor of New York spent his recent inauguration forcefully reiterating his commitment to a progressive crusade against inequality; and Americans finally began getting health insurance under the reform law passed in contentious circumstances in 2010.

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  • Is GOP Momentum Entering 2014 a Mirage?

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    The 2014 elections should be the Republican Party's to lose.

    There's simply not much reason for Democratic optimism. Presidents almost always shed congressional seats in their second term, and with polls showing approval of Barack Obama at record lows, there's little reason to expect a departure from trend. Plus, Democrats need to pick up 17 seats to recover the House, an unquestionably heavy lift, while several of the party's incumbent senators are vulnerable, thanks largely to their support for Obamacare.

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  • Kerry Quietly Makes Priority of Climate Pact

    By Coral Davenport, The New York Times

    As a young naval officer in Vietnam, John Kerry commanded a Swift boat up the dangerous rivers of the Mekong Delta. But when he returned there last month as secretary of state for the first time since 1969, he spoke not of past firefights but of climate change.

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  • Calif. grants law license to undocumented immigrant

    By Alan Gomez, USA Today

    The California Supreme Court granted a law license Thursday to an undocumented immigrant, a first-of-its-kind ruling that allows Sergio Garcia to practice law in his adopted state.

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Jan 02, 2014

  • Poll: Americans have little faith in government

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Americans enter 2014 with a profoundly negative view of their government, expressing little hope that elected officials can or will solve the nation's biggest problems, a new poll finds.

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  • Justice Sotomayor Blocks Part Of Birth Control Mandate

    By Carrie Johnson and Renee Montagne, NPR

    The Supreme Court justice issued a decision Tuesday night that's putting part of President Obama's health insurance law in doubt. Groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged are suing to block the law, saying it violates their religious freedom.

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  • Untroubled in Paradise: Obama's Vacation Winds Down

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    On his calendar, President Obama has four days left in paradise. And let's just say that when it comes to filling up the hours in the lovely state where he was born, gym workouts and golf have outpaced beachcombing and hiking.

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  • Is U.S. Ready Rethink Sept. 11 Security Policies?

    With Tom Gjelten, NPR

    President Obama will announce this year how he wants to overhaul operations at the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies. The NSA surveillance activities disclosed by Edward Snowden have been criticized by Congress and others. In the past, reports of intelligence abuses or failures have prompted significant changes.

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  • Is New York’s de Blasio prompting a repositioning by the Clintons?

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    It isn’t often that the swearing-in of a new mayor of New York draws national television attention, but then, it isn’t every day that you see a mayor sworn in by a former president of the United States with a prospective presidential candidate also on the stage.

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Dec 31, 2013

  • Obamacare enrollments surpass 2 million mark

    With John Harwood, CNBC

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  • Management experts knock Obama

    By John F. Harris and Elizabeth Titus, Politico

    After the HealthCare.gov debacle first exploded three months ago, President Barack Obama pleaded for people to cut him a little slack: “I wanted to go in and fix it myself, but I don’t write code.”

    At his year-end news conference recently, he struck a different tone: “Since I’m in charge, obviously, we screwed it up.”

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  • Egypt arrests Al Jazeera journalists, alleges ties to Muslim Brotherhood

    By Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

    The Egyptian government has broadened its campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood with the arrest of the entire Al Jazeera news team here, prompting fears that reporting anything other than the government’s views could trigger reprisals.

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  • U.S. Capitol to get $59 million facelift

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Congress is falling apart. Literally.

    A two-year restoration project will find the iconic U.S. Capitol dome covered in scaffolding by spring 2014 for a laborious project to repair more than 1,300 cracks in the structure.

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Dec 30, 2013

  • Health-insurance sign-ups on U.S. exchange top 1.1 million in initial enrollment period

    By Juliet Eilperin and Sarah Kliff, Washington Post

    More than 1.1 million Americans signed up for an insurance plan through the federal health-care marketplace during its initial enrollment period, with more than 975,000 enrolling in December alone, the Obama administration announced Sunday.

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