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!

Feb 07, 2014

  • TSA: No Liquids on U.S. Flights to Russia

    By Pete Williams, NBC News

    The TSA is now imposing a temporary new ban on most aerosols, gels, powders, and liquids in carry-ons on U.S. flights to Russia — bringing American regulations into line with the rules that Russia itself imposed earlier this week.

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  • Boehner: Distrust of Obama drags down immigration bill

    By Susan Davis and Alan Gomez, USA Today

    The already uphill battle in this Congress to overhaul the nation's immigration laws became even more difficult Thursday when House Speaker John Boehner cast doubts that a bill can pass this year.

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  • No, Liberals Don't Control the Democratic Party

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    In a classroom in Harlem, the liberal new mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, appeared with union leaders in support of his plan to raise taxes on incomes higher than $500,000 to fund public pre-kindergarten. "We're asking this of the wealthy," de Blasio said, "because there are too many working parents in this city today" who need help.

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  • Will Jeb Bush Fill the GOP's Governor-Shaped 2016 Hole?

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    All of a sudden, Jeb Bush is in the sweet spot.

    That was not the case one year ago, when it was the ex-Florida governor's protégé, Sen. Marco Rubio, who was declared "the savior of the Republican Party" by Time magazine. Bush, in contrast, looked dated and squishy while promoting a book that backed off his past support for citizenship for illegal immigrants.

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  • Government Shutdown Best Thing to Happen to Boehner & GOP

    By Amy Walter, Cook Political Report

    Not so long ago, Speaker John Boehner was the leader of an undisciplined, deeply divided majority that seemed bent on self-destruction. Now, just three months after the disastrous GOP-led government shutdown, Boehner looks like a man in control of his party and his own legislative destiny. He’s lashed out at outside groups who have been stirring up discontent within the ranks. He’s passed legislation like the Farm Bill and the budget deal over the objections of Tea Party groups. Just a few days ago he was looking relaxed and comfortable joking with Jay Leno about spray tans and internal GOP dysfunction on the Tonight Show. Moreover, there’s now serious talk about an immigration bill passing the House. And no one in the party is (seriously) threatening to hold the debt ceiling vote hostage.

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Feb 06, 2014

  • Feds Warn Russian Flights About Toothpaste Bombs

    By Pete Williams, NBC News

    The U.S. government has sent an advisory to airlines that fly into Russia, warning them that recent intelligence suggests terrorists might try to smuggle explosives onto planes by using toothpaste tubes.

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  • Security in Sochi

    With Eamon Javers, CNBC

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  • What the CBO Report Tells You About Obamacare

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    When you get an envelope from your insurance company, it can contain a variety of surprises. Sometimes a check falls out. The claim was paid quickly—and they covered more than you expected. This is rare. More often you open the envelope and unfurl a multipage form that reads “this is not a check and isn’t likely to be a check any time soon.” That isn’t the literal wording, but it’s the reasonable conclusion you reach after trying to parse the jargon, following the code at the bottom of the page, and reading the grayed out boilerplate on the back of the letter. Or, you get a notice from your insurance company telling you that your coverage is going to change. You don’t know exactly what that means, but you’re pretty sure that it won’t lead to more happy surprises in the future.

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  • Obama not ‘offended’ if vulnerable Dems stay away

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    President Obama huddled with Senate Democrats at a ballpark Wednesday, but the only game they discussed were the 2014 midterm elections.

    Obama spent about an hour Wednesday afternoon behind closed doors at the Diamond Club, a swanky lounge at Nationals Stadium where Senate Democrats held their annual one-day policy retreat. He was accompanied by his new legislative affairs director, Katie Fallon, and new political adviser John Podesta.

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  • Iran Willing to Modify Its Arak Reactor, Official Says

    By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan and Kambiz Foroohar, Bloomberg News

    An Iranian official said for the first time that Iran may modify a heavy-water reactor near Arak, signaling a willingness to compromise on one of the most contentious issues in efforts to curtail its nuclear program.

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  • Christie and Romney, a GOP odd couple

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    Fortunes change quickly in politics. Three months ago, Chris Christie was on the Republican mountaintop, and Mitt Romney was in the valley. Today, Christie’s once-bright future is clouded by scandal, and, wonder of wonders, Romney is enjoying a moment in the sun.

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Feb 05, 2014

  • House GOP may try to link debt ceiling approval to changes to health-care law

    By Robert Costa and Ed O’Keefe, Washington Post

    House Republicans were still struggling Tuesday to find consensus on how to handle their upcoming debt-limit negotiations with the White House, but they seem increasingly determined to avoid any kind of dramatic showdown with the president this time.

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  • Obama Faces Fresh Democratic Pressure on Health Care

    By Peter Nicholas and Janet Hook, Wall Street Journal

    Some Democratic lawmakers intensified pressure on President Barack Obama Tuesday to take actions he has been resisting when it comes to health care and the nation’s energy supply.

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  • Fraud in Army Recruiting Bonus Program May Cost Nearly $100 Million

    By Helene Cooper, The New York Times

    An Army program meant to increase the number of recruits during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars devolved into an illegal free-for-all that could cost taxpayers close to $100 million, military investigators say, describing new details of what they called a long-running scheme among National Guard recruiters that went undetected for years.

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  • US official: Snowden leaks lead to Pentagon change

    By Kimberly Dozier and Stephen Braun, Associated Press

    A top U.S. military intelligence official said Tuesday that the Pentagon will have to make costly changes to programs and personnel because of leaks by former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden.

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  • Old Tensions Resurface in Debate Over U.S. Role in Post-2014 Afghanistan

    By Peter Baker and Matthew Rosenberg, The New York Times

    President Obama brought his top Afghanistan commanders to the Oval Office on Tuesday to discuss the way forward in a war he is determined to end by the end of the year, even as he finds himself stymied by an unreliable partner and an uncertain future.

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  • Red vs. blue: The battle lines of 2014

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    The conventional wisdom is that this fall's congressional election will be all about Obamacare. Republicans, it's argued, will try to expand their majority in the House and take the Senate with a campaign focused mostly on the failings of President Obama's health insurance law; Democrats will fire back with warnings that the GOP would simply repeal the law and leave consumers on their own.

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Feb 04, 2014

  • Congress targets security breach

    With Eamon Javers, CNBC

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  • In Talk of Economy, Obama Turns to ‘Opportunity’ Over ‘Inequality’

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    Like so many political fights, the one between President Obama and Republicans over income inequality has become a battle over language. Is it about inequality of incomes or of opportunity? On this question, the president and his party have moved in Republicans’ — and voters’ — direction.

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  • Farm bill on verge of passage after a long three years of haggling in Congress

    By Ed O’Keefe and Kimberly Kindy, Washington Post

    Congress is on the verge of dramatically overhauling federal farm and nutrition policies affecting a broad range of issues, from how food is packaged and sold to how the government helps poor people pay for their groceries.

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