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 28, 2014

  • Hagel Warns Russia Not to Intervene in Ukraine

    By Helene Cooper

    Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel warned Russia on Thursday to stay out of the turmoil in Ukraine, while NATO defense ministers issued repeated statements meant to show support for the new leadership in Kiev.

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  • After government shutdown, dozens of lawmakers gave to charity

    By Ed O'Keefe, Washington Post

    From the very outset of the 16-day government shutdown last fall, members of Congress recognized its potential for political damage. Many of them, seeking to contain the possible fallout, pledged to give back some of their federal salaries earned while the government was not functioning.

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  • Congress takes the year off

    By Gloria Borger, CNN

    It's a political axiom that the closer Congress gets to an election, the less work it gets done.

    But here's the current math: what's less than nothing? And if you do even less than nothing, at what point does it become completely counterproductive and silly?

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  • Sen. Cruz won't endorse Cornyn in Texas GOP race

    By Charles Babington and Donna Cassata, Associated Press

    The sniping between establishment Republicans and tea partyers resumed Thursday as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz refused to endorse his state’s senior senator in next week’s Republican primary.

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  • Holder Health Scare Highlights Questions About Obama

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    President Obama has not undergone a complete medical examination since well before his re-election -- apparently not since October 2011, according to public records.

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Feb 27, 2014

  • Push Behind Arizona 'Religious Freedom' Law Has Long History

    By Pete Williams, NBC News

    The path to Arizona's proposed law that would allow businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians begins over twenty years ago in Oregon and winds through a photographer's studio in New Mexico.

    Two Native American men who worked at an Oregon drug rehab center were fired two decades ago for smoking peyote -- an illegal drug -- at a church service. They sued, claiming an exemption from the state's drug law, arguing that their use of peyote was part of a tribal religious ritual.

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  • US: Majority-Minority Nation

    With John Harwood, CNBC

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  • Democrats begin push to force vote on minimum wage

    By Ed O'Keefe, Washington Post

    Congressional Democrats turned Wednesday to an obscure legislative maneuver in hopes of forcing a vote to raise the minimum wage, saying they have no choice but to embrace the rarely-used tactic in hopes of forcing Republicans to debate the issue.

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  • Republicans too focused on health-care law, some in GOP warn

    By Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

    Will the Affordable Care Act be the Republicans’ golden ticket in this year’s midterm election? Some worry that the GOP may be placing too big a bet on it.

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  • Nothin’ Doin’

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Washington is coasting. For the past several years, chroniclers of the relationship between the president and Republicans in Congress have searched in vain for new ways to describe chaos. When chaos wasn’t on order, the task was to find new ways to connote stasis—the lack of progress that filled the exhausted interregnum between periods of chaos.

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Feb 26, 2014

  • Trust Eroded, Obama Looks Beyond Karzai

    By Mark Landler and Helene Cooper, The New York Times

    President Obama, apparently resigned to President Hamid Karzai’s refusal to sign a long-term security agreement with the United States before he leaves office, told him in a phone call on Tuesday that he had instructed the Pentagon to begin planning for a complete withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year.

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  • Putin Tests Russian Military as Ukraine Looks to EU

    With Indira Lakshmanan, Bloomberg News

    Bloomberg U.S. diplomacy correspondent Indira Lakshmanan examines Russian President Vladimir Putin’s call for a test of Russian military readiness and tension between Russia and Europe over Ukraine.

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  • Reid and McConnell agree: Tax overhaul will be difficult

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., don’t agree on much, but they found common ground Tuesday when they dampened expectations for an overhaul of the federal tax code this year.

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  • Why Lawmaking on a Grand Scale Is a Dying Art

    By Janet Hook, Wall Street Journal

    When Rep. Dave Camp (R., Mich.) laid plans to unveil a big tax reform bill this week, it was as if he was operating in some kind of time warp. No one seemed to have told the Ways and Means Committee chairman that Congress isn’t doing much legislating any more. And it hasn’t been for some time.

    Having enacted just 72 laws in all of 2013 – one of its least productive sessions ever – Congress is not just gridlocked. It is getting rusty at the art of legislating.

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  • Bill Clinton Says Defeating Mitch McConnell ‘Makes a Big Difference’

    By Shushannah Walshe and Jeff Zeleny, ABC News

    Former President Bill Clinton took center stage today in the most watched Senate race in the country, telling a crowd of 1,200 that “it makes a big difference” whether Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes wins in November.

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  • D.C. Email Jiujitsu

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    In school did you ever cram for a Shakespeare exam by reading a lot in one sitting? It temporarily rewired your brain. When from your hand let slip the rhyme’d page, backward did run the lines in your hot brain. Verily.

    This happened to me after watching the first eight episodes of House of Cards all at once. (I’m still in the first season; I also have a manual transmission). I felt the warp. I started thinking Congress was actually engaged in passing legislation. I walked around the house pursued by House Majority Whip Frank Underwood’s aphorisms. There are two kinds of SodaStream users in this world. … A real man can destroy his enemies just by hanging up his jacket. … Salt is for weaklings.

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Feb 25, 2014

  • Pentagon Officials Say They’re Willing to Assume Risks of a Reduced Army

    By Helene Cooper and Thom Shanker, The New York Times

    In shrinking the United States Army to its smallest size since 1940, Pentagon officials said Monday that they were willing to assume more risk the next time troops are called to war.

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  • Dingell retirement marks generational shift in House

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    The storied career of the longest-serving lawmaker in the nation's history, Rep. John Dingell, is drawing to a close as he announced Monday that his current term will be his last.

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  • In John Dingell’s departure, a changing of the guard and the end of an old style of power

    By Karen Tumulty and Paul Kane, Washington Post

    In the arc of Rep. John D. Dingell’s storied legislative career, it is easy to discern the fading trajectory of power in Washington over the past six decades.

    He was the last of the true committee barons, one who muscled for legislative turf and who had been known to pound his gavel so hard it shattered.

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  • Wary Stance From Obama on Ukraine

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    Televisions around the White House were aglow with pictures of Ukrainians in the streets, demanding to be heard and toppling a government aligned with Russia. It was an invigorating moment, and it spurred a president already rethinking his approach to the world.

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