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 24, 2014

  • Obama seeks to defuse tensions among Democrats

    By Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

    President Obama is stepping up his efforts to coalesce and energize the Democratic base for the 2014 elections, backing off on issues where his positions might alienate the left, and more aggressively singling out Republicans as being responsible for the country’s problems.

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  • 2014 Midterm races to test Tea Party power to last

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    The 2014 primary election season that kicks off March 4 may serve as a test of the Tea Party's ability to shape the Republican Party.

    The movement that became a potent political force in the 2010 elections and helped Republicans retake control of the House is at war with the Republican establishment and taking on GOP incumbents in a handful of key races.

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  • Governors’ races offer a barometer for 2016

    By Dan Balz, Washington Post

    In Washington, the focus right now is on the Senate: Who will control it after the November midterm elections? But the National Governors Association winter meeting this weekend is a reminder that the outcome of this year’s gubernatorial elections will be equally important in shaping the political future.

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Feb 21, 2014

  • Republicans Should Tread Carefully On Minimum Wage

    By Amy Walter, Cook Political Report

    Lately, Republicans have been been pretty happy with government. Well, with one agency at least. Over the last two weeks the number crunchers at the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office have released reports that include some bad news for two significant legislative priorities of President Obama and Democrats--the Affordable Care Act and the minimum wage.

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  • CBO Data Could Spur Minimum Wage Hike to $9

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    If Congress decides $10.10 an hour is too steep a climb from the existing $7.25 federal minimum wage, might policymakers shake hands on an increase closer to $9 an hour?

    As the Congressional Budget Office and the White House continued to disagree Wednesday over the uncertainties and potential labor-market downsides of President Obama’s $10.10 proposal, their dispute -- in its fine print -- was about how much the minimum wage could rise before its evident benefits would erode.

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  • Yemen Terrorists Behind Latest Warning and New Concerns Over Syria

    By Pierre Thomas, ABC News

    The Al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen that launched the Christmas Day bombing attempt in 2009 and the explosives-laden cargo plot in 2010 is behind Wednesday’s warning to airlines around the world that terrorists could be developing new ways to smuggle “shoe bombs” and other deadly devices onto planes, sources told ABC News.

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  • Iran Talks Set Five-Month Plan for Race to Final Nuclear Accord

    By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan, Ladane Nasseri and Jonathan Tirone, Bloomberg News

    Iran and world powers set a schedule for five months of negotiations in a race to agree on a definitive nuclear accord before their interim deal expires in July.

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  • Dead Guards on Freighter Are Identified as Former Navy SEAL Members

    By Nicholas Kulish and Mark Mazzetti, The New York Times

    Two former Navy SEAL members who had been hired to protect the container ship that was attacked by Somali pirates in 2009 — an episode that became the basis of the Oscar-nominated film “Captain Phillips” — were found dead while the ship, the Maersk Alabama, was docked in the Seychelles, officials said Thursday.

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Feb 20, 2014

  • Feds urge airlines to check shoes for explosives

    With Pete Williams, NBC News

    The Department of Homeland Security is asking airlines that fly to the U.S. to pay extra attention to passenger shoes.

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  • CBO Data Could Spur Minimum Wage Hike to $9

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    If Congress decides $10.10 an hour is too steep a climb from the existing $7.25 federal minimum wage, might policymakers shake hands on an increase closer to $9 an hour?

    Read more
  • The Trans Pacific Partnership is in trouble on Capitol Hill. Here’s why.

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    President Obama is meeting Wednesday with the leaders of Mexico and Canada and a major new trade pact with Asian countries is among several important topics of discussion.

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  • Report: US drone may have killed dozen civilians

    By Kimberly Dozier, Associated Press

    A U.S. military drone strike in Yemen last December may have killed up to a dozen civilians on their way to a wedding and injured others, including the bride, a human rights group says. U.S. officials say only members of al-Qaida were killed, but they have refused to make public the details of two U.S. investigations into the incident.

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Feb 19, 2014

  • Politics to Shadow Obama’s Trade Talks in Mexico

    By Peter Baker and Elisabeth Malkin, The New York Times

    President Obama travels to Mexico on Wednesday for a brief but politically fraught visit aimed at forging closer trade ties with America’s two closest neighbors even as his party’s leaders back home have vowed to undercut his efforts.

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  • CBO report: Minimum wage hike could cost 500,000 jobs

    By Susan Davis, USA Today

    President Obama's call to raise the federal minimum wage could help lift 900,000 workers out of poverty, but at a cost of as many as 500,000 jobs, according to an analysis released today by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

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  • Wage Hike Job-Loss Estimates Irk White House

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    In economic circles, the difference between zero lost jobs and 1 million lost jobs -- in an economy with 137 million of them -- might amount to a polite difference of opinion among academics.

    But when a whiff of lower employment Tuesday attached a foul odor to a possible hike in the federal minimum wage, a new political skirmish in Washington was born.

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  • Obama to sign executive order streamlining imports, exports

    By Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama plans to sign an order Wednesday that officials say will cut the waiting time on permits to import and export goods "from days to minutes."

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  • Want to know the next House Member to retire? Look here.

    By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post

    Two more House lawmakers have announced plans to step down this week -- Reps. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) and Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Calif.) -- adding to a growing list of Democrats and Republicans in both chambers planning to hang it up after this year. So far, there's no broad trend to this year's planned retirements other than a few who are close to top leaders and several who are older, have served for several decades and believe that Democrats have no hope of retaking the House anytime soon.

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Feb 18, 2014

  • U.S. Scolds Russia as It Weighs Options on Syrian War

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

    Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday sharpened the Obama administration’s mounting criticism of Russia’s role in the escalating violence in Syria, asserting that the Kremlin was undermining the prospects of a negotiated solution by “contributing so many more weapons” and political support to President Bashar al-Assad.

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  • In California, Obama wraps up three days of seclusion at Sunnylands

    By Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times

    President Obama squeezed in one last round of golf on Monday before wrapping up his secluded Presidents Day weekend and heading back to Washington.

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  • The Establishment Holds Fire in the GOP Civil War

    By Beth Reinhard, National Journal

    Remember when the Republican establishment declared war on the tea party?

    One year ago, the Crossroads super PAC founded by Karl Rove launched a new group to defend incumbents from volatile, too-conservative challengers who might scuttle the party's takeover of the Senate in 2014. The empire-strikes-back counteroffensive gained allies like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and gridlock-weary Republicans in Congress after tea-party members shut down the government in October.

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