The Note's Must-Reads for Thursday March 14, 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, Jordan Mazza and Will Cantine

BUDGET BATTLE ABC News' Jonathan Karl: "A First? President Obama Gets Standing Ovations From House Republicans" Talk about white smoke: I am told, by Republican sources, that President Obama got standing ovations at the beginning and end of his meeting today with House Republicans on Capitol Hill - his first such meeting in four years. LINK

The New York Times' Robert Pear: " Clamor To Be Spared The Pain As Budget Cuts Descend" Construction companies are lobbying the government to spare their projects from across-the-board cuts. Drug companies are pleading with the White House to use all the fees they pay to speed the approval of new medicines. A frenzy of lobbying has been touched off by President Obama's order to slice spending this year by $85 billion, divided equally between military and civilian programs. The cuts have created new alliances and strange bedfellows. LINK

The Washington Post's Lori Montgomery: " Democrats Challenge Obama On Medicare and Social Security Cuts" While Democratic leaders are offering quiet support for Obama's renewed campaign to strike a grand bargain with Republicans that would include cuts to Social Security and Medicare, a significant number of Democratic lawmakers are digging in their heels and vowing to protest any reduction in promised benefits. LINK

Bloomberg's Roxana Tiron and James Rowley: " Obama Warms Up To House Republicans With No Deal Progress" President Barack Obama's first meeting with the House Republican conference in three years produced no agreements in his quest for a deal on debt reduction amid skepticism from lawmakers about his intentions. LINK

The Washington Times' Susan Crabtree: " Obama: Meeting with House GOP was 'useful'" President Obama hit both ends of the political spectrum Wednesday, spending the afternoon talking up areas of common ground with Republicans and the evening chatting up donors at a partisan fundraiser. LINK

The Hill's Russell Berman and Molly K. Hooper: " House GOP peppers Obama with questions on budget, Keystone" House Republicans peppered President Obama with pointed questions on the budget, White House tours and the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline during an hourlong meeting Wednesday that yielded no major breakthroughs between the two divided parties. LINK

USA Today's Susan Davis: "Senate Democrats release first budget in four years" Senate Democrats released a budget resolution Wednesday for a 10-year fiscal vision that would trim the deficit and protect entitlement programs. It calls for more spending for roads and schools and for higher taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans to protect middle-class earners. LINK

THE POPE The Los Angeles Times' Henry Chu: " Pope Francis, a New World pontiff, faces old challenges" Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina becomes the first pope from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium. His choice recognizes a shift in the Roman Catholic Church's center of gravity while maintaining its conservative theology. LINK

Politico's Katie Glueck: " New Pope Elected: Gets Cheers And Prayers From Pols" President Barack Obama on Wednesday offered his warm congratulations and prayers for Pope Francis as Vice President Joe Biden readied to lead a delegation to Rome for the papal installation. LINK

GUN CONTROL The Boston Globe's David Uberti: " Gun debate a test for Senator Patrick Leahy" He lives on a dirt road, enjoys swapping long stories, and fires pistols in his backyard. He even loves the Grateful Dead. Senator Patrick Leahy, in other words, is a fairly typical Vermonter. Elected to the Senate in 1974, he is the chamber's longest-serving member and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, with a New Englander's low-key style that will be tested in the weeks ahead as the chamber takes up the issue of gun control. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO "Military Sexual Assault Victims Testify Before Senate Panel" LINK

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