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 08, 2014

  • Jobless-Aid Bill Advances in the Senate

    By Janet Hook, Wall Street Journal

    Legislation to resurrect benefits for the long-term unemployed overcame an important procedural hurdle in the Senate Tuesday, triggering a debate over how to cover the cost and whether other changes could ease the bill through the Senate and a wary House.

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  • Despite Senate vote, jobless benefits still in doubt

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    The U.S. Senate took a step toward reinstating expired jobless benefits for 1.3 million people, but significant disagreements and legislative hurdles remain before Congress can approve the assistance.

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  • Record Could Hinder Confirmation Of Civil Rights Nominee

    With Carrie Johnson, NPR

    The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday considers President Obama's nominee to enforce civil rights at the Justice Department. Debo Adegbile will need to overcome the opposition not only of voter fraud activists but also the Fraternal Order of Police.

    Listen here
  • Edward Snowden, in shades of gray

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    Is Edward Snowden a whistle-blower or a traitor?

    Debate over the renegade computer technician who leaked thousands of secret National Security Agency documents is too often reduced to that deceptively simple choice.

    But it's the wrong way to pose the question, because Snowden is both of those things at the same time. Yes, he's a whistle-blower, and if that were all he had done, he would deserve our thanks for forcing a debate over the NSA's swollen powers.

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Jan 07, 2014

  • Harry Reid Throws the First Punch

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Usually people return from vacation with a lighter outlook, but after the year-end Senate break, Majority Leader Harry Reid is in a glum mood. On Sunday’s Face the Nation, the Nevada senator said there was little hope that Congress would be better in 2014 than it was in 2013, a year in which the institution achieved greatness only in scoring historic approval-rating lows. “Unless the Republicans in Congress decide they should do something for the American people, I'm sorry to say that's true," he said when asked if this year would be as bad as last. "The rating in Congress is down. If somebody called me in a poll, I would vote with them. This is awful what's been going on.”

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  • Senate to test support for extending jobless benefits

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    The Senate delayed until Tuesday a critical test vote on whether to reinstate expired federal benefits for the long-term unemployed.

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  • The Costs of Paying for Unemployment Insurance

    By Fawn Johnson, National Journal

    Republicans are throwing a wrench into the debate over unemployment benefits by insisting that spending cuts offset any extension of federal aid for the long-term jobless.

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  • New Year, Familiar Battles Ahead for Obama

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    Following a vacation of golf and R&R in Hawaii, President Obama will tee up Tuesday what he hopes can be a “year of action,” beginning with a renewed push to resurrect expired federal unemployment insurance for millions of families.

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  • Burglars Who Took On F.B.I. Abandon Shadows

    By Mark Mazzetti, The New York Times

    The perfect crime is far easier to pull off when nobody is watching.

    So on a night nearly 43 years ago, while Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier bludgeoned each other over 15 rounds in a televised title bout viewed by millions around the world, burglars took a lock pick and a crowbar and broke into a Federal Bureau of Investigation office in a suburb of Philadelphia, making off with nearly every document inside.

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Jan 06, 2014

  • Unemployment Insurance Extension Lacks GOP Support

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    A bipartisan plan to once again provide federal unemployment insurance for more than 1 million Americans appears to be falling short of the Republican support needed to clear a key procedural vote scheduled for Monday evening in the Senate.

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  • 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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