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 14, 2014

  • In Security Cases, Feds No Longer Get Benefit Of The Doubt

    With Carrie Johnson, NPR

    Disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have shaken the intelligence community and spurred Congress to try to impose new limits on electronic surveillance. In recent weeks, aftershocks from those leaks have been rippling through the courts too. Some judges have signaled they're no longer willing to take the government's word when it comes to national security.

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  • Study Finds Methane Leaks Negate Benefits of Natural Gas as a Fuel for Vehicles

    By Coral Davenport, The New York Times

    The sign is ubiquitous on city buses around the country: “This bus runs on clean burning natural gas.”

    But a surprising new report, to be published Friday in the journal Science, concludes that switching buses and trucks from traditional diesel fuel to natural gas could actually harm the planet’s climate.

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Feb 13, 2014

  • In Ruthlessness We Trust

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    Let us now praise ruthless men. And women. The two most talked-about potential presidential candidates in 2016 are enduring public examinations of their ruthlessness. In New Jersey federal investigators, the legislature, and the press are looking at whether Gov. Chris Christie knew aides in his office sought to punish a local official for not supporting their boss by closing portions of the George Washington Bridge. At the same time, Hillary Clinton is going through one of the periodic public checkups she has enjoyed since emerging on the national stage in 1992. A new book, HRC, describes a carefully tended Clinton enemies list where the couple kept track of those who had abandoned or betrayed them. The private diaries of a close confidante, first reported on by the Washington Free Beacon, describe first lady Hillary Clinton’s desire to punish everyone from anonymous leakers to an Arkansas publisher during her husband’s presidency.

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  • Hillary Clinton’s to-do list

    By John F. Harris and Maggie Haberman, Politico

    Polls show Hillary Rodham Clinton drawing support far above any other prospective Democratic or Republican presidential candidate in 2016. The most experienced campaign operatives in the business are jostling to be by her side if she decides to run. Time magazine asks, “Can anyone stop Hillary?”

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  • House Democrats plot strategy against long odds to win back chamber

    By Ed O'Keefe, Washington Post

    Despite the turmoil that has hamstrung the House Republican majority for much of the past three years, Democrats acknowledge that their chances of retaking control of the chamber this year are slim to nonexistent.

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  • Senate clears debt ceiling hike

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    Three years of battling over the nation's debt and borrowing authority reached an anticlimactic end Wednesday, when the Senate approved with little debate and only minor delay a House-passed measure to suspend the debt ceiling until March 2015.

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  • Obamacare Sign-Ups -- 3.3 Million -- Skew Older, Female

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    The Obama administration said Wednesday it doesn’t know how many Americans who previously had no health insurance have enrolled under the Affordable Care Act, but newly released government data indicates that 82 percent of nearly 3.3 million enrollees have qualified for tax subsidies or other assistance to gain coverage.

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  • For Obama, procrastination on Keystone XL might be a virtue

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    The debate over the Keystone XL pipeline may look like just another example of the partisan divide on Capitol Hill. If only it were that easy.

    President Obama's dilemma over whether to approve the 1,600-mile pipeline, which would move oil from Canada to Texas, has more to do with disagreements within the Democratic Party, and with foreign relations.

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Feb 12, 2014

  • House passes ‘clean’ debt-ceiling bill, ending two-week showdown

    By Paul Kane, Robert Costa and Ed O’Keefe, Washington Post

    The House approved a year-long suspension of the nation’s debt limit Tuesday in a vote that left Republicans once again ceding control to Democrats after a collapse in support for an earlier proposal advanced by Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

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  • The Day the Boehner Rule Died

    By Jeff Zeleny, ABC News

    The “Boehner Rule” died today.

    Speaker John Boehner once coined that phrase based on this conservative principle: Any increase in the nation’s debt ceiling would be accompanied by an equal dose of spending cuts.

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  • Spy Chief Says Snowden Took Advantage of ‘Perfect Storm’ of Security Lapses

    By David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt, The New York Times

    The director of national intelligence acknowledged Tuesday that nearly a year after the contractor Edward J. Snowden “scraped” highly classified documents from the National Security Agency’s networks, the technology was not yet fully in place to prevent another insider from stealing top-secret data on a similarly large scale.

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  • Obama steps up efforts to help young men of color

    By Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama will launch an initiative aimed at improving the lives of young black and Latino men by bringing businesses and foundations together with government agencies to change what an administration official called the "school-to-prison pipeline."

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  • Holder Calls For Restoring Felons' Voting Rights

    By Carrie Johnson, NPR

    Attorney General Eric Holder called on 11 states to repeal "counterproductive" laws that bar convicted felons from "the single most basic right of American citizenship-the right to vote."

    In a speech Tuesday at Georgetown University law school, Holder used his bully pulpit to note that 5.8 million people are prohibited from voting because of current or former felony convictions, including 1-in-5 black adults in Florida, Kentucky and Virginia.

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  • How Important are Gay Rights to President Obama?

    By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

    As the White House prepares to host French President François Hollande for a rare state dinner on Tuesday, here are three questions to start the week:

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Feb 11, 2014

  • GOP Pushes Plan Tying Debt Ceiling to Military Pensions

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    House Republican leaders are moving ahead with an increase in the nation's debt limit in exchange for a reversal of minor cuts in military pensions that were part of the recent bipartisan budget deal.

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  • Employer Health Care Mandate Delayed

    With John Harwood, CNBC

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  • GOP Irked by New Delay of Obamacare Mandate

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    It took mere minutes Monday before howls of GOP outrage circulated through Washington.

    The Obama administration is “unilaterally making it up as they go along,” protested Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus after learning the administration used executive “discretion” Monday to delay until 2016 the Affordable Care Act’s mandates for mid-size employers.

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  • U.S. Debates Drone Strike on American Terrorism Suspect in Pakistan

    By Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt, The New York Times

    The Obama administration is debating whether to authorize a lethal strike against an American citizen living in Pakistan who some believe is actively plotting terrorist attacks, according to current and former government officials.

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  • Voices: 'Hispanic' is poor way to describe rich cultures

    By Alan Gomez, USA Today

    As I finished an interview with a state senator in northern Florida, he suggested I try out a Mexican restaurant a few blocks away.

    "You'll love it," he said. "Two blocks down, on the left."

    I thanked him for the suggestion, but pointed out that I was of Cuban descent, not Mexican. He paused, gave me a quizzical stare and said, "Uh huh. Two blocks down, on the left."

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Feb 10, 2014

  • The GOP’s immigration conundrum

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    House Republicans’ latest revolt against immigration reform spells potential trouble for the party’s 2016 presidential candidates. The last thing the GOP needs in 2016 is another primary season marked by debate and dissension over the fraught issue.

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