The Note's Must-Reads for Wednesday, March 6, 2013

ABC OTUS News

The Note's Must-Reads are a round-up of today's political headlines and stories from ABC News and the top U.S. newspapers. Posted Monday through Friday right here at www.abcnews.com

Compiled by ABC News' Jayce Henderson, Amanda VanAllen, Carrie Halperin, and Rachael Berman

BUDGET CUTS: Bloomberg's Roxana Tiron & James Rowley Budget Feud's Next Round Keeps Cuts to Avoid Shutdown While Congress negotiates a U.S. spending plan for the rest of the budget year, leaders are preserving automatic cuts and seeking ways to give agencies flexibility in implementing the reductions. That work starts this week with a House vote on Republicans' proposal to fund the government after current spending authority expires March 27. The House bill retains the $85 billion in cuts that took effect March 1 - a reduction of 5.8 percent through the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. LINK

The Washington Time's Stephen Dinan Email tells feds to make sequester as painful as promised The White House announced Tuesday that it is canceling tours of the president's home for the foreseeable future as the sequester spending cuts begin to bite and the administration makes good on its warnings of painful decisions. Announcement of the decision - made in an email from the White House Visitors Office - came hours after The Washington Times reported on another administration email that seemed to show at least one agency has been instructed to make sure the cuts are as painful as President Obama promised they would be. LINK

The New York Daily News' Joesph Straw: " Sequester Blues: No White House tours because of spending cuts" They're rolling up the welcome mat at the White House. The Obama administration announced Tuesday that all public tours of the White House will be canceled after Friday because of budget cuts hitting all areas of the federal government. The cancellation likely will disappoint thousands of tourists who had planned to take a tour while visiting Washington. LINK

NUCLEAR WEAPONS / FOREIGN AFFAIRS: ABC News' Dana Hughes: " John Kerry Concedes Iran Is Moving Closer to Possessing Nuclear Weapon" At the end of his first overseas trip as Secretary of State, John Kerry acknowledged that despite the continued diplomacy and tough sanctions being leveled against Iran, the regime continues to get closer to possessing a nuclear weapon. "Lines have been drawn before and they've been passed," Kerry said. "That's why the president has been so definitive this time. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Dion Nissenbaum: " U.S. Is Hit on Iraq, Afghan Outlays" After spending $150 billion on controversial development projects in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. has made minimal progress in ensuring its money won't be squandered in future efforts, a final audit of wartime contracting procedures found. The report warns that the government's failure to enact substantive safeguards poses a "strategic national-security weakness" for the U.S. The 150-page report, by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, is being released on Wednesday. LINK

IMMIGRATION REFORM: USA Today's Alan Gomez: " Jeb Bush rankles bipartisan group over immigration" Former Florida governor Jeb Bush is angering Democrats and some in his own party over his opposition to allowing illegal immigrants to attain U.S. citizenship, a stance he reveals in his new book on immigration. In the 2012 presidential campaign Bush said that the GOP was being "tone deaf" on the issue of illegal immigration and what to do about it, saying the Republicans were alienating Hispanic voters. LINK

ECONOMY / WALL STREET: The Hill's Peter Schroeder: " Wall St. pierces sequester gloom" The stock market burst through predictions of sequester doom Tuesday as the Dow Jones industrial average closed at a record high of 14,253.77. The Dow reached its highest level since 2007 and sent the clear signal to Washington that investors are unconcerned about the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts triggered on March 1. LINK

The New York Times' Peter Eavis: " As Fears Recede, Dow Industrials Hit a Milestone" The economy may be struggling to recover, but by one closely watched measure the fear that not long ago paralyzed the markets has lifted. The oldest and most popular gauge of the stock market on Tuesday surged past the nominal high it last reached more than five years ago, before the financial crisis hit with full force. LINK

JOHN BRENNAN: The Los Angeles Times' Ken Dilanian and Michael Memoli: " Senate committee approves Brennan as CIA director" The Senate Intelligence Committee approved John Brennan as the next CIA director, ending weeks of tense delay and setting the stage for the full Senate to vote on President Obama's last major pick for his national security Cabinet. The committee voted 12 to 3 in a closed-door hearing Tuesday to endorse Brennan, hours after the White House agreed to give the House and Senate intelligence committees secret Justice Department opinions on the targeted killings of terrorism suspects overseas and records from the September attacks at U.S. diplomatic and intelligence compounds in Benghazi, Libya. LINK

SENATE RACE: The Boston Globe's Frank Philips Democrats strike early against Republicans in Senate race Massachusetts Democrats, still humbled by their defeat in the 2010 special US Senate race, are launching unusually early campaign attacks on the Republican Party, particularly targeting Senate candidate Michael J. Sullivan for his conservative social positions. Democratic Party leaders and gay rights activists have planned a press conference Wednesday where they will highlight Sullivan's opposition to gay marriage. LINK

The Washington Time's Dave Boyer Senate vote will reignite battles over judiciary nominees President Obama's effort to reshape the federal judiciary will enter a new phase of open warfare with Republican lawmakers Wednesday when the Senate votes on whether to break the filibuster of Caitlin Halligan's nomination for a seat on the prestigious D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Republicans have been blocking Ms. Halligan's nomination for two years, calling her an activist on gun control, abortion rights and back pay for illegal immigrant workers. Democrats say she would be an impartial jurist and that she deserves an up-or-down vote based on her qualifications, which include serving as solicitor general for the state of New York and clerking for Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer. LINK

GOP: Washington Times's Seth McLaughlin: " GOP seeks 'messengers' to Hispanics" In the wake of the 2012 election, the Republican Party needs to recruit new messengers in the states to reach out to Hispanic voters, recruit minority candidates and carry the party's message of limited government to "a community that is understandably skeptical," the GOP's point man for bolstering the party at the state level said in an interview Tuesday. J. Christopher Jankowski, president of the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), said the election showed the party badly needs to broaden its appeal among Hispanic voters on both the national and state levels, and "shamelessly" promote the Hispanics within its ranks. LINK

JEB BUSH: The Washington Post's Peter Wallsten and David Nakamura: " Jeb Bush is back in the spotlight - and thinking about 2016" Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who has remained on the sidelines since his older brother left the White House with dismal ratings four years ago, has jumped back into the political fray this week with a new book, wall-to-wall television interviews and a round of public speaking engagements His appearances mark a change in approach for Bush, 60, who has operated as more of a Republican elder statesman since leaving Tallahassee in 2007 but is now clearly considering a run for the White House. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS: " Sequester: GOP Reacts to Automatic Spending Cuts" LINK

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