The Note's Must-Reads for Thursday, February 28, 2013

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

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


ABC News' Dana Hughes: " Obama Administration Expected to Directly Aid Syria's Rebels" Secretary of State John Kerry will meet on Thursday with leaders of Syria's opposition council and other nations that have been supporting the opposition at the Friends of Syria meeting in Rome. The outcome of that meeting is expected to move the United States towards more direct involvement in the nation's conflict. LINK

The Washington Times' " Dem lawmaker prepares bill to allow Obama direct arms sales to Syrian rebels" One of the top Democratic lawmakers on foreign policy is preparing to introduce a bill that would authorize President Obama to begin sending arms directly to rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad- legislation that would open the way for significantly deeper U.S. involvement in Syria's bloody civil war. LINK

USA Today's Susan Davis " Senate poised for dueling votes on 'sequester'" The Senate will vote on dueling legislative proposals Thursday to prevent sweeping across-the-board federal spending cuts, but there is no confidence lawmakers will reach a bipartisan deal with President Obama before the Friday deadline. Obama has summoned the top four congressional leaders to a White House meeting Friday to discuss the cuts, known as the "sequester," while House Republicans are maneuvering to give the Pentagon more discretion in how to implement the cuts. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Peter Nicholas and Janet Hook: " Jockeying Stalls Deal on Cuts" With mandatory across-the-board spending cuts set to begin Friday, the White House and congressional Republicans are poised to let the deadline pass, each calculating that their hand in negotiations only grows stronger if they scorn a quick compromise. The first face-to-face meeting on the issue between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders won't happen until Friday-the deadline for Mr. Obama to set in motion $85 billion in broad spending cuts. LINK

VOTING RIGHTS The New York Times' Adam Liptak: " Voting Rights Law Draws Skepticism From Justices" A central provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 may be in peril, judging from tough questioning on Wednesday from the Supreme Court's more conservative members. If the court overturns the provision, nine states, mostly in the South, would become free to change voting procedures without first getting permission from federal officials. LINK

CUTS / SEQUESTER The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty and Lyndsey Layton: " Sequester spin gets ahead of reality" The descriptions of the post-sequester landscape coming from the Obama administration have been alarming, specific - and, in at least some cases, hyped. Take the claim by Education Secretary Arne Duncan that there are "literally teachers now who are getting pink slips." When he was pressed in a White House briefing Wednesday to name an example, Duncan came up with one school district, in West Virginia, and he acknowledged, "Whether it's all sequester-related, I don't know." LINK

Bloomberg's Kathleen Hunter: " Senate Plans Symbolic Votes as Spending Cut Set to Begin" Senators plan a pair of symbolic votes that won't head off $85 billion in U.S. spending cuts scheduled to begin tomorrow. Neither plan is expected to advance in today's votes in Washington. Instead, they are designed to give Democrats and Republicans political cover when the across-the-board cuts take effect.

The parties are far apart on how to replace the cuts totaling $1.2 trillion over nine years, $85 billion of which would occur in the remaining seven months of this fiscal year. Democrats say tax increases must be part of a replacement plan, which Republican leaders oppose. Democrats say they expect the public to place more blame on Republicans, rather than President Barack Obama, for any reduced federal services. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Noam N. Levey: " 'Sequester' cuts to hit healthcare hard" As the Obama administration begins to implement $85 billion in cuts to federal spending this year, no part of the budget other than defense will take a bigger hit than healthcare. LINK

BOB WOODWARD Politico's Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei: " Woodward at war" Bob Woodward called a senior White House official last week to tell him that in a piece in that weekend's Washington Post, he was going to question President Barack Obama's account of how sequestration came about - and got a major-league brushback. The Obama aide "yelled at me for about a half hour," Woodward told us in an hour-long interview yesterday around the Georgetown dining room table where so many generations of Washington's powerful have spilled their secrets. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS " Eric Holder Says Homegrown Terror Threat Equals International: Exclusive" LINK

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