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!

Jul 18, 2014

  • Inside John Kerry’s Diplomatic Save in Afghanistan

    By Michael Crowley, TIME Magazine

    As the sun went down over Kabul on Saturday July 13, Afghanistan’s future hung in the balance. Accusations of fraud in the country’s recent presidential election had paralyzed the country’s politics and threatened to trigger a civil war that could destroy the progress America’s costly military and diplomatic efforts had delivered since 2001. The parties in the dispute had convened at the residence of the American ambassador in Kabul, but the two sides couldn’t reach agreement.

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Jul 17, 2014

  • Raising Stakes on Russia, U.S. Adds Sanctions

    By Peter Baker and James Kanter, The New York Times

    President Obama imposed a new round of sanctions against Russia on Wednesday, targeting some of the crown jewels of the country’s financial, energy and defense industries in what officials described as the most punishing measures taken to date by the United States in retaliation for Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine.

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  • Christie's political engine: His BIG personality

    By John Harwood, CNBC

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would carry heavy baggage into a 2016 presidential race. Conservative activists distrust him. A budget crisis has revived questions about his leadership. Close aides created traffic problems for his constituents on purpose.

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  • U.S., EU Escalate Russia Sanctions as Putin Holds Firm

    By Margaret Talev, Indira A.R. Lakshmanan and Ian Wishart, Bloomberg News

    The U.S. and the European Union imposed the most aggressive sanctions to date on Russian business and said more may follow, acting after threats to squeeze the $2 trillion economy over the conflict in Ukraine.

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  • More Democrats oppose weakening legal protections of kids crossing the border

    By Ed O'Keefe and Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post

    The influx of migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border has slowed in recent weeks, administration officials told lawmakers Wednesday.

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  • Why Rand Paul Loves to Fight Over Foreign Policy

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    Rand Paul sure seems to enjoy getting into it with his fellow Republicans. This week, the Kentucky senator has been feuding with Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, who decried Paul’s “isolationism” in a weekend op-ed. Paul promptly and tartly fired back, saying of Perry, “Apparently his new glasses haven’t altered his perception of the world, or allowed him to see it any more clearly.” (Perry has been wearing the bold, hipsterish frames for about a year now. How rude of Paul not to have noticed.)

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Jul 16, 2014

  • Congress scrambles to come up with border funding plan

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    House Republicans are working to unveil by Friday their counteroffer to President Obama's initial $3.7 billion emergency spending request to stop undocumented, unaccompanied minors from crossing the southwestern border.

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  • House Passes Interim Fix for Highway Trust Fund

    By Jonathan Weisman and Peter Baker, The New York Times

    The House on Tuesday easily approved a short-term fix to the nearly depleted federal highway trust fund, as the prospects of hundreds of thousands of job losses and stalled road construction in August overwhelmed the protests of conservative groups that opposed the bill.

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  • How Washington rolls in 2014: With short-term gimmicks

    By John Harwood, The New York Times

    Congress is inching toward the worst possible solution to the government's highway funding crisis—the only kind it's capable of right now.

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  • House Democrats unveil policy ‘Action Plan’ as Pelosi sets ambitious goal for November

    By Ed O’Keefe, The Washington Post

    House Democrats plan to unveil a list of election-year proposals Wednesday that party leaders hope will resonate with women, blue-collar workers and younger voters — three key constituencies that historically don’t show up to vote in significant numbers in midterm election years.

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Jul 15, 2014

  • Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, former POW in Afghanistan, takes new Army post

    By Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

    Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive for five years in Afghanistan until he was traded May 31 for five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo, has completed his U.S. military-led reintegration treatment and has been assigned to an Army unit in Texas to continue his military service.

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  • U.S. Flies 38 to Honduras as Part of Expedited Deportations

    By Dudley Althaus in Mexico City and Laura Meckler, Wall Street Journal

    Thirty eight women and children recently detained at the U.S. border were flown home to Honduras on Monday, in what U.S. officials say is the first of an expected increase in expedited deportations.

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  • Citigroup to Pay Billions in Mortgage Settlement

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

    One of the nation's biggest banks agreed to pay $7 billion to settle claims brought by the Justice Department over its conduct in the housing crisis.

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  • Has the establishment won the GOP’s civil war?

    Jeff Zeleny, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps, ABC News

    No one has fired up Republicans more than one person: President Obama.

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  • Progressives turn from Obama to embrace Warren

    By Robert Costa, The Washington Post

    Populist Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) got a rock-star reception during a standing-room-only campaign rally here Monday, as hundreds of liberal activists cheered her broadsides against corporate interests and voiced hopes that her presence might shift the political winds in an increasingly Republican state.

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Jul 14, 2014

  • Americans and Iranians See Constraints at Home in Nuclear Negotiations

    By David E. Sanger, The New York Times

    Secretary of State John Kerry arrived here early Sunday in an attempt to rescue negotiations with Iran that have stalled on the question of how large a nuclear infrastructure that nation will be permitted to have over the next decade or two. But he quickly confronted the fact that the problem might be less at the negotiating table here than with mullahs in Tehran and members of Congress in Washington.

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  • GOP keeps House edge in Democratic-leaning states

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Democrats have long claimed that Republicans abused their legislative powers to elect a disproportionate number of U.S. House members. Now a Florida court is lending credence to their complaint.

    The full impact of the Florida ruling — plus a similar lawsuit pending in North Carolina — won't be known for some while. For now, at least, they shine light on the fiercely partisan practice of gerrymandering, in which state officials draw congressional districts to help their party.

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  • The Rise of the Fusion Republicans

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    Primary season is almost over, and as you may have heard, the Republican establishment mostly won. Other than the shocking defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, GOP incumbents largely survived primary challenges, and the candidates preferred by party strategists and moneymen in Washington won their nominations.

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  • Emily's List Candidates Are Quiet on Abortion

    By Beth Reinhard, Wall Street Journal

    Emily's List is backing more Senate candidates in the South than ever in its three-decade history. The group, which raises money for Democratic women who support abortion rights, is the largest single contributor to four Southern candidates, including North Carolina's Sen. Kay Hagan.

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  • DOJ Set to Fight Gay-Marriage Bans in Supreme Court

    By Pierre Thomas, Mike Levine, Jack Date and Jack Cloherty, ABC News

    The Justice Department is set to urge the Supreme Court to uphold a lower-court ruling and block states from banning same-sex marriage, Attorney General Eric Holder said.

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