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!

Jun 23, 2014

  • GOP Infighting Shows No Sign of Easing Up

    By Patrick O'Connor and Janet Hook, Wall Street Journal

    The battles that played out in Republican primaries this spring have done little to resolve the party's divisions, with differences over both tactics and policy still stark.

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  • Another Senate dispute puts spending bills in jeopardy

    By Ed O’Keefe, The Washington Post

    A fresh fight between Democrats and Republicans over rules regarding amendments broke out in the Senate last week, possibly upending carefully orchestrated plans to approve a new spending agreement and avoid another government shutdown this fall.

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  • A Day in the Life of a Journalist in Baghdad

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    Dispatched to cover the crisis in Iraq, ABC News’ Chief Global Affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz - who is on her 23rd trip to Iraq - with the help of ABC News producers Cindy Smith and Bartley Price, chronicled a day working and reporting in Baghdad on June 19, 2014.

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  • Chris Christie's New Compassionate Conservatism

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    Republicans have an image problem. “Only 16 percent of Americans believe the Republican Party is compassionate,” Arthur Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute, told a roomful of Christian conservatives on Friday, citing a recent poll. Voters, he said, see Republicans as fighting against things and Democrats as fighting for people—and, framed in those terms, it's no surprise people tend to prefer the latter.

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Jun 20, 2014

  • U.S. to Send Up to 300 Military Advisers to Iraq, Obama Says

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    President Obama has ordered “up to” 300 American military and other specialists into Iraq to “train, advise and equip” the Iraqi military to battle Sunni jihadists who have seized control of Iraqi towns as part of a religious-based sectarian clash.

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  • Understanding Iraq's Disappearing Security Forces

    By James Kitfield, National Journal

    The Iraqi security forces were always America's ticket out of Iraq, so after many early disappointments, U.S. military leaders built the forces in their own image.

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  • House Republicans elect Kevin McCarthy as majority leader, Steve Scalise as majority whip

    By Paul Kane and Matea Gold, The Washington Post

    House Republicans on Thursday overwhelmingly elected Rep. Kevin McCarthy to be majority leader and Rep. Steve Scalise to be majority whip, elevating a pair of lawmakers who promised a more open and conservative approach to running the chamber.

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  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker suspected of coordinating with outside groups

    By Matea Gold, The Washington Post

    Wisconsin prosecutors have alleged that Gov. Scott Walker was part of a wide-ranging “criminal scheme” to coordinate the activities of conservative groups that spent millions to help him and other Republicans fend off recall efforts, according to documents released Thursday.

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  • The Left's Quiet Advance in Democratic Primaries

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    This year’s Republican primaries have been closely watched by pundits sifting for clues about the relative primacy of the GOP’s warring factions. But Democrats have primaries too—and this year, the left is winning many of them.

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  • The Unexpected Ceasefire in Washington’s Tax Wars

    By John Harwood, The New York Times

    “I grew up castrating hogs,” Joni Ernst tells voters in Iowa in her signature TV ad, vowing to “make ′em squeal” in Washington. But she’s not talking about cutting income tax rates.

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Jun 19, 2014

  • Obama's Mideast airstrike refrain: 'And then what?'

    By Christi Parsons and Kathleen Hennessey, Tribune Newspapers

    Last fall, as President Obama weighed airstrikes against Syria, deliberations followed a clear pattern: The president solicited scores of options, planners returned with possibilities, and, according to people involved, Obama would reply with the same question: And then what? Over the last several days, with Obama mulling involvement in another Middle East conflict, this time in Iraq, that dynamic has held.

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  • Only Iraq war veteran in Senate urges ‘extreme caution’

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    The only military veteran of the Iraq war serving in the Senate said Wednesday that the financial and personal costs of sending U.S. troops back into Iraq would be too great and that Iraqis -- not Americans -- need to rise up to defend their own country. Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) once served as adjutant general of the Montana National Guard and led more than 700 soldiers in Iraq from 2004 to 2005. The former lieutenant governor came to the Senate earlier this year as the successor to former senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.).

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  • Details of complaint against captured Benghazi suspect mostly secret

    By Nancy Youssef and Michael Doyle, McClatchy

    The elite U.S. commandos who snatched an alleged plotter of the Benghazi consulate attack were acting on a bare-bones criminal complaint whose crucial details remain secret. While some operational color and background are coming to light, the legal charges against Ahmed Abu Khatalla are summed up publicly in a one-page document assigning his case to the chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Washington. Even well-placed lawmakers await further details.

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  • Under Old Management

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    Meet the new leader, same as the old leader. Rep. Eric Cantor’s defeat last week was a message from grass-roots conservatives to Washington’s Republican leaders: No more business as usual. But on the eve of the election to replace Cantor as majority leader—the second most powerful person in the House of Representatives—it doesn’t look like there’s been much of a change in how the House will function. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who was in the No. 3 position, is now going to be elevated to Cantor’s old post. McCarthy is not an agent of change. On the issue of immigration, for example, which helped inflame opposition to Cantor, McCarthy is even more moderate. (He has in the past expressed support for giving undocumented immigrants a path to legal status.) House Speaker John Boehner, whom grass-roots activists criticize as a capitulator and dealmaker, is more powerful than ever, because without Cantor waiting in the wings, there is less threat that another member of the House could harness his grass-roots critics.

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  • Clinton navigates foreign policy balancing act as Obama leadership questioned

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    It is a near-perfect storm that has come together as Hillary Rodham Clinton tours the country promoting her new book and preparing for a possible presidential campaign in 2016. At a time when she is drawing attention to her record as secretary of state, the Middle East has become dangerously chaotic and President Obama’s approval ratings are sliding. That has left Clinton in a difficult position of trying to claim success when she was in office while shielding herself, carefully, from real or perceived weaknesses in the administration’s handling of crises in Syria, Iraq, Libya and other trouble spots.

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Jun 18, 2014

  • U.S. Seizure of Suspect in 2012 Benghazi Assault Ends Long Manhunt

    By Peter Baker, Michael Schmidt and Eric Schmitt, The New York Times

    American commandos operating under the cover of night seized the man suspected of leading the deadly attack on the United States Mission in Benghazi, Libya, the government announced on Tuesday, ending a manhunt that had dragged on for nearly two years and inflamed domestic and international politics. With drones hovering overhead, about two dozen Delta Force commandos and two or three F.B.I. agents descended on the outskirts of Benghazi just after midnight local time on Monday; grabbed the suspect, Ahmed Abu Khattala; stuffed him into a vehicle and raced away, according to officials briefed on the operation. No shots were fired, and the suspect was spirited out of Libya to a United States Navy warship in the Mediterranean.

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  • Why Delta Force Waited So Long to Grab a Benghazi Ringleader

    By Kimberly Dozier and Eli Lake, The Daily Beast

    In echoes of the raid to capture Osama bin Laden, Delta Force operators practiced the raid to capture Ahmed abu Khatallah on a mock-up of his compound at Fort Bragg before going into the real thing. The mission to capture Ahmed abu Khatallah, one of the ringleaders of the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya was more than a year in the making.

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  • Neighborhood Watches in Baghdad Part of Increased Security

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

    Watch
  • ISIS -- is it too extreme to survive?

    By Doyle McManus, LA Times

    Just how terrifying is the Sunni Muslim extremist group that's taken over a huge swath of territory in northern Iraq? Here are some clues: After seizing Iraq's second-largest city, the group, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, boasted of massacring 1,700 prisoners in cold blood.

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  • How will House Republicans elect their new leader?

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    After nine days of intense jockeying after the surprise primary defeat of Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), House Republicans are scheduled to gather Thursday behind closed doors in a setting mirroring the secrecy of a papal election and the elimination rules of a televised singing contest. The process of electing a new Republican majority leader -- and likely a new House majority whip -- is steeped in traditions established years ago during similar contests for speaker, majority leader and whip. Several aides described details of the elections on the condition of anonymity, because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the process.

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