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!

Mar 10, 2014

  • Sovereignty vs. Self-Rule: Crimea Reignites Battle

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    They wanted to break away from a country they considered hostile. The central government cried foul, calling it a violation of international law. But with the help of a powerful foreign military, they succeeded in severing ties.

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  • Malaysia Airlines Passenger With Stolen Passport Caught on Video

    With Pierre Thomas, ABC News

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  • There have been 69 days in 2014 so far. Congress has worked 28 of them.

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    Members of Congress worked just two full days last week due to a snowstorm that postponed the start of the week until Tuesday night (for the House) and Wednesday morning (for the Senate).

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  • Rethinking the 2016 GOP nomination contest

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    This year’s Conservative Political Action Conference cast a spotlight on the Republican Party’s prospective 2016 presidential candidates, and there is already an accepted storyline about how the 2016 Republican presidential nomination contest will unfold.

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  • Fighting Words

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    The Republican Party is having a debate about its future. Before it can have the debate, its leaders must agree on just how it should take place. At the Conservative Political Action Conference this week, there emerged several distinct theories about how to approach the GOP split.

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Mar 07, 2014

  • Congress steps up action on Ukraine

    By Susan Davis and Aamer Madhani, USA Today

    Congress took its first official steps to address the ongoing international crisis in Ukraine on Thursday, with a leading House committee approving a symbolic resolution condemning Russia's recent actions, and the U.S. House advancing legislation to provide Ukraine with up to $1 billion in economic relief.

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  • Senate Rejects Blocking Military Commanders From Sexual Assault Cases

    By Helene Cooper, The New York Times

    The Senate on Thursday rejected a controversial bipartisan bill to remove military commanders from decisions over the prosecution of sexual assault cases in the armed forces, delivering a defeat to advocacy groups that argued that wholesale changes are necessary to combat an epidemic of rapes and sexual assaults in the military.

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  • Chris Christie at CPAC: Back to the future

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    Looking to the future, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie rolled back the clock on Thursday. Appearing at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, Christie was not the humbled politician embroiled in scandal at home, or the bipartisan governor who talked throughout his reelection campaign about working cooperatively with Democrats in his state, or the Christie whose praise for President Obama in the days after Hurricane Sandy infuriated Republicans.

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  • Marco Rubio: Forgotten Frontrunner

    By Amy Walter, Cook Political Report

    When it comes to 2016, the media is fixated on Bridge-gate, Benghazi, and Bush (Jeb). Left out of the picture is the man that many assumed would be the frontrunner by now, Sen. Marco Rubio. The CW says that Rubio's star has been dimmed (perhaps irreversibly so) by his championing of comprehensive immigration reform in 2013.

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  • Your Utility Bill Is Going Up (and There's Nothing You Can Do About It)

    By Fawn Johnson, National Journal

    After eight days without power, Abbe Milstein walked out of her home in Montgomery County, Md., itching for a fight. The 2012 derecho had knocked out electricity to 4.2 million homes throughout the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic regions. "I said, 'Something is wrong.' "

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Mar 06, 2014

  • EU to Weigh Ukraine Sanctions, Russia Spurns Diplomacy

    By Indira Lakshmanan and James Neuger, Bloomberg News

    European Union leaders will consider repercussions for Russia at an emergency meeting today on the Ukraine crisis, after Russia’s foreign minister fended off a U.S. effort to ease tensions in the Crimean peninsula. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron will participate in today’s meeting in Brussels, a day after the 28-nation bloc offered 1.6 billion euros ($2.2 billion) in emergency aid to help the new Ukrainian government avert a default. The government is prepared to immediately sign the EU association agreement that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych rejected, precipitating the crisis, premier Arseniy Yatsenyuk said in an interview with newspaper Rzeczpospolita.

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  • U.S. Hopes Boom in Natural Gas Can Curb Putin

    By Coral Davenport and Steven Erlanger, The New York Times

    The crisis in Crimea is heralding the rise of a new era of American energy diplomacy, as the Obama administration tries to deploy the vast new supply of natural gas in the United States as a weapon to undercut the influence of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, over Ukraine and Europe.

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  • Senate blocks Obama nominee over cop-killer case

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    The U.S. Senate narrowly rejected President Obama's nominee to oversee the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division due to Republican and law enforcement objections to the role he played in the defense of convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal. In a statement, Obama called the defeat of Debo Adegbile a "travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant."

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  • Health Plan Cancellations Delayed Two More Years

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    The Obama administration announced Wednesday that existing insurance policyholders will be able to keep some insurance plans for another two years, even though the coverage doesn’t meet requirements of the Affordable Care Act.  The government said the latest in a series of ACA modifications that began last year offered “certainty and clarity” to policyholders, states and insurance companies well into 2017.

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  • Poll finds Republicans resistant to Chris Christie presidential candidacy

    By Dan Balz and Peyton M. Craighill, The Washington Post

    As conservatives gather in the Washington area on Thursday for three days of speeches from prospective 2016 presidential candidates and discussions about the future of the GOP, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll found that three in 10 of all Republicans say they would not vote for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie if he ran for the White House.

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  • Why the 1 Percent Have Nothing to Fear

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    If you are a member of the 1 percent, be wary, the politicians are coming for you. They’d like a donation to their campaign. Given all the talk about income inequality, you might have worried that they’d be supporting policies that could hurt you. Rest easy: Control of the Senate hangs in the balance this election year and the political system needs your donations more than your hide. Pollsters and strategists are telling candidates that targeting the rich or talking too much about income inequality isn’t a smart strategy. So you’re not even likely to receive a righteous rhetorical scapegoating. History suggests you’ve dodged a bullet, too. Today’s popular ferment for change is small by historical comparison.

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Mar 05, 2014

  • No Easy Way Out of Ukraine Crisis

    By Peter Baker, The New York Times

    For all his bluster and bravado, President Vladimir V. Putin’s assurance on Tuesday that Russia does not plan, at least for now, to seize eastern Ukraine suggested a possible path forward in the geopolitical crisis that has captivated the world. Global markets reacted with relief, and the White House with cautious optimism.

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  • The dawn of Cold War II

    By Doyle McManus, LA Times

    Here's a chilly thought: We are seeing the dawn of a second Cold War between Russia and the West. But this one should be easier to manage than the first was. The headlines over the last week have echoed the bad old days of the 20th century: Russian troops marching into someone else's territory. Poland calling on NATO to help secure its borders. Americans and Russians trading angry charges at the United Nations.

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  • Obama Budget Sees Deficit Reduction From Health Law

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    President Obama told Congress Tuesday the nation could inch closer to a balanced budget in a decade, thanks (in part) to billions of dollars in savings made possible through provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The president may see the proof he seeks before leaving office in 2017, but experts say it is still too soon to calculate how the embattled 2010 law will impact the overall budget in 2024. Obama, who sent Congress his budget blueprint for the year that will begin Oct. 1, touted the downward trend in federal health care spending achieved as the health reform law has been implemented.

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  • Why the Obama budget is already dead

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    Congress has passed a two-year budget agreement that sets spending levels through the end of 2015, meaning that members of the House and Senate can justifiably dismiss the budget President Obama unveiled Tuesday as irrelevant. But the White House is required by law to present a budget proposal each year, so Obama used the moment to release an ambitious proposal that relies on more than $1 trillion in new taxes and includes more than $55 billion in new spending. Next week, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is expected to follow up with a proposal that will focus on welfare reform and an overhaul of social programs, including Head Start and Medicaid.

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