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 13, 2014

  • Does Nancy Pelosi Have Any Sympathy for Eric Cantor?

    By Jeff Zeleny, ABC News

    Nancy Pelosi paused, smiled and chuckled a bit before saying “sure,” she feels at least some sympathy toward outgoing Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. “It’s hard to lose an election,” said Pelosi, the Democratic minority leader of the House.

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  • Exclusive: Bergdahl Explains in Prison Letters Why He Vanished

    By Kimberly Dozier, The Daily Beast

    In a pair of letters, the captured U.S. soldier asks his government to reserve judgment about his disappearance—and complains about the officers leading his unit in Afghanistan. Writing from a Taliban “prison,” Bowe Bergdahl urged his family and his government to wait until they had all the facts before judging him for leaving his base. Then Bergdahl explained, at least in part, why he left his fellow troops in 2009.

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Jun 12, 2014

  • As Cantor announces exit from GOP House leadership, the jockeying begins

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

    House Republicans on Wednesday plunged into a regional and ideological struggle over the prospect of new leadership, with a flash campaign for top jobs that will echo the internal battles that have roiled the national GOP for the past five years.

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  • Why Eric Cantor Lost and Lindsey Graham Won

    By Molly Ball, The Atlantic

    On Tuesday night, a Republican who'd just won a tough primary stood before a crowd of his supporters and pledged not to back down from the issue of immigration reform, vowing to "solve the 11 million in a practical way." That Republican, of course, was not House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who unexpectedly lost to a little-known Tea Party challenger who accused him of promoting "amnesty." It was South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who took 56 percent of the vote against six conservative challengers in one of the reddest states in the country.

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  • How Thad Cochran Is Trying to Avoid Eric Cantor’s Fate

    By John Harwood, The New York Times

    In winning his state senate seat in 2007, Chris McDaniel drew just over 10,000 votes. In winning a sixth United States Senate term a year later, Thad Cochran drew 766,000. So it makes sense that, after an inconclusive initial primary in Mississippi, Mr. Cochran seeks to win their June 24 runoff by tapping that much-larger pool of past supporters. “He’s capped out, and we’re not,” argued Henry Barbour, who’s helping direct a pro-Cochran political action committee.

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  • Pew poll: In polarized America, we live as we vote

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    It sounds like a cliche but it’s true. Conservatives and liberals don’t just differ in their political views. They like to live in different places, associate with like-minded people and have opposing views on the value of ethnic and religious diversity in their neighborhoods, according to a major new study by the Pew Research Center.

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  • What? Iraq? Members of Congress show no interest in country’s burgeoning crisis

    By Nancy Youssef, McClatchy

    The government of Iraq, where American soldiers fought and died for the better part of a decade, is in full retreat before an onslaught from a radical Islamist group dedicated to establishing an Islamic state in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. But the magnitude of the crisis has yet to capture the attention of Washington.

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Jun 11, 2014

  • Cantor loses, Boehner dines with friends, McCarthy scrambles

    By Ed O'Keefe and Wesley Lowery, The Washington Post

    The No. 1 GOP leader and the No. 3 GOP leader in the House reacted remarkably differently Tuesday night to the stunning defeat of the No. 2 GOP leader, Eric Cantor. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) stuck to his usual routine by hanging out with close friends and aides at an Italian restaurant that he likes -- in part because they let him smoke in a private room. Back at the U.S. Capitol, aides to House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) frantically huddled deep into the night. Were they plotting his next move? No one was talking.

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  • Haunted House

    By John Dickerson, Slate

    Be afraid, be very afraid. In February, a top GOP aide explained why immigration reform was never going to happen this year. “The Chamber [of Commerce] and downtown [lobbyists] want it, but they’re not going to primary anyone.” The fear of a backlash from grass-roots conservatives was hard to predict before Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost in a stunning GOP primary defeat, and it has now become more so.

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  • Lessons for other Republicans in Cantor's shocking loss

    By Doyle McManus, LA Times

    Just when you thought the tea party was in decline, it rears up and topples another icon. Eric Cantor, the House majority leader and understudy to Speaker John A. Boehner, lost the primary election in his central Virginia district by a convincing margin, 56% to 44%. He had been a member of the House since 2001 and was running for his eighth term.

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  • Obama Laments Lack of Public "Passion" for Gun Control

    By Alexis Simendinger, Real Clear Politics

    President Obama said the public’s “passion” and fury are missing when it comes to failed efforts to enact new gun controls and background checks in response to mass shootings. He called it his “biggest frustration” as president, and he asked the public to do some soul-searching about America’s deadly trend.  Obama also conceded that his own push for restrictions last year, with Vice President Biden spearheading the effort, fell flat in Congress.

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  • U.S. Attorney General Slams Boy Scouts Over Gay Scoutmaster Ban

    By Pete Williams, NBC News

    Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday that the refusal by the Boy Scouts of America to allow gay adults to be scout leaders "perpetuates the worst kind of stereotypes."  In remarks for delivery to a gay rights organization, Lambda Legal, Holder said with the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, "courageous lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals routinely put their lives on the line" in the armed services.

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Jun 10, 2014

  • Looks like Hillary Clinton won't be running for president on Obama's record

    By Doyle McManus, LA Times

    Hillary Rodham Clinton’s memoir of her time as secretary of State isn’t officially being released until Tuesday, but thanks to a deluge of excerpts, we already know most of what’s in the book, and that makes it easy to figure out why she wrote it. If there was any remaining doubt that Clinton is planning to run for president, “Hard Choices“ should remove it. Her spokespeople insist that she hasn’t made the final decision. But she’s propping the door wide open with her 656-page bestseller-to-be.

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  • 4 of ‘Taliban 5’ Will Likely Fight Again, U.S. Spies Say

    By Kimberly Dozier and Eli Lake, The Daily Beast

    Obama’s top intelligence officers warned that four out of the five Taliban prisoners swapped for Bowe Bergdahl would return to the battlefield. A top intelligence official told lawmakers in a classified Senate briefing last week that he expected four out of the five Taliban leaders released by the Obama administration to eventually return to the battlefield.

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  • Student loan relief: Obama's order caps payments at 10% of income

    By Christi Parsons, Tribune Newspapers

    President Obama on Monday signed an executive order that lets millions of college graduates cap their student loan payments at 10% of their income, a move he says will help “open the doors of opportunity for all.” By amending student loan regulations to put the cap in place, Obama is making use of his executive powers to help alleviate the burden for young Americans increasingly saddled with student loans.

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  • INSIGHT-US law firms flock to gay-marriage proponents, shun other side

    By Joan Biskupic, Reuters

    As U.S. lawsuits seeking gay-marriage rights move toward a likely showdown at the Supreme Court next year, major law firms are rushing to get involved - but only on the side of the proponents. A Reuters review of more than 100 court filings during the past year shows that at least 30 of the country's largest firms are representing challengers to state laws banning same-sex marriage. Not a single member of the Am Law 200, a commonly used ranking of the largest U.S. firms by revenue, is defending gay marriage prohibitions.

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  • U.S. Leads Push to Get Iran Nuclear Talks Back on Track

    By Indira Lakshmanan and Kambiz Foroohar, Bloomberg News

    U.S. and Iranian officials are holding an extra round of meetings to revive momentum in the push for an accord on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. The two sides will reconvene today after they met for five hours in Geneva yesterday. The bilateral sessions were needed because “we are a critical juncture in the talks” and time is running short, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in Washington. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said they were “held in a positive and constructive atmosphere,” the Iranian news agency IRNA reported.

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Jun 09, 2014

  • Obama Plans Steps to Ease Student Debt

    By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

    President Obama on Monday will take executive actions to ease the burden of college loan debt for potentially millions of Americans, in a White House event coinciding with Senate Democrats’ plans for legislation to address a concern of many voters in this midterm election year. Before an East Room audience, Mr. Obama is scheduled to announce “new steps to further lift the burden of crushing student loan debt,” said a White House official, who declined to be identified describing the actions in advance of the president’s event. Despite past actions by the administration, borrowers’ debt load is growing and retarding the ability to buy homes, start businesses or otherwise spend to spur the economy, economists say.

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  • 'This Week': New Details of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's Captivity

    With Martha Raddatz, ABC News

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  • When the book is the hook

    By Todd Purdum, POLITICO

    She already has two best-sellers under her belt. She has 100 percent name recognition, prohibitive political support in the polls — and more money than most ordinary people could ever dream of. So why does Hillary Clinton need another book, much less one that’s pre-sold a million copies and dominated news coverage even before its official release? The answer: Her forthcoming book tour and the attendant multiplatform media blitz are about everything but the book and the bucks. To begin with, the rollout of “Hard Choices,” which officially begins Tuesday, presents a perfect way to gather priceless retail consumer data that can later be put to political use.

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