The Note's Must-Reads for Monday October 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, Jayce Henderson, Will Cantine and Amanda VanAllen

FISCAL CRISIS ABC News' Arlette Saenz and Jeff Zeleny: " Senate Leaders 'Optimistic,' But No Shutdown-Ending Deal Yet" Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was "optimistic" about the prospects of the Senate striking a deal to end the government shutdown and avert a default, but at least two major sticking points remain and it is still not clear whether any Senate deal would win approval in the House. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the two men charged with finding a way to end the government shutdown and increase the country's borrowing ability, spoke today by phone. LINK

The Hills' Alexander Bolton: " Senate talks stalled as Democrats seek to pressure Republicans" Senate Democrats are seeking to put more pressure on Republicans after a weekend of sporadic negotiations left leaders stalemated in talks to reopen the government and raise the debt limit. Democrats have decided to ratchet up pressure on Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) instead of accepting a deal that locks in automatic spending cuts known as sequestration and makes reforms to ObamaCare. LINK

The Washington Post's Lori Montgomery and Rosalind S. Helderman: " Senate Leaders' Talks On Shutdown, Debt limit Stall As Sides Await Market's Reaction" What started as a mad dash to strike a deal to lift the federal debt limit slowed to a crawl over the weekend as stalemated Senate leaders waited nervously to see whether financial markets would plunge Monday morning and drive the other side toward compromise. Republicans seemed to think they had more to lose. After talks broke down between President Obama and House leaders, GOP senators quickly cobbled together a plan to end the government shutdown - now entering its third week - and raise the $16.7 trillion debt limit. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) then asked Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) to elevate negotiations to the highest level. LINK

The New York Times' Annie Lowrey and Nathaniel Popper: " World Leaders Press The U.S. On Fiscal Crisis" Leaders at World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings on Sunday pleaded, warned and cajoled: the United States must raise its debt ceiling and reopen its government or risk "massive disruption the world over," as Christine Lagarde, the fund's managing director, put it. The fiscal problems of the United States overshadowed the official agendas for the meetings, with representatives from dozens of countries - including two of Washington's most important economic partners, Saudi Arabia and China - publicly expressing worries about what was happening on Capitol Hill and in the White House. LINK

Politico's Manu Raju and Seung Min Kim: " Senate Remains At An Impasse" Senate leaders remained stuck Sunday over federal funding levels and the length of an increase to the national borrowing limit as they struggled to cut a last-ditch deal to reopen the government and avert the first-ever U.S. debt default. With the government shutdown approaching its third week and the country poised to exhaust its borrowing authority Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell were still trying to hammer out a potential deal. But as of Sunday afternoon, significant hurdles remained, and McConnell slammed Democratic leaders for rebuffing a proposal by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to end the impasse. LINK

DEBT CEILING Bloomberg's Jesse Hamilton: " JPMorgan's Dimon Joins Jain Warning U.S. Against Default" Lawmakers shouldn't risk a default on U.S. debt because the impact would be devastating and the full extent of the damage isn't knowable in advance, said the heads of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Deutsche Bank AG. "The United States cannot default and, in my opinion, will not default," JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said today during a panel discussion at a financial industry conference in Washington. LINK

The Washington Times' Stephen Dinan and Tom Howell Jr. : " Stock markets, global economists on edge with zero hour approaching" Congress spent the weekend insisting that it will reach a deal to raise the federal government's borrowing limit by Thursday but making scant progress even as all sides tried to reassure itchy financial markets ahead of the stock market opening Monday. Most of the action Saturday and Sunday was negative: Republican senators filibustered Senate Democrats' proposal for a 15-month debt-ceiling holiday, and those Democrats in turn said they couldn't accept Republicans' compromise to reopen the government and extend the debt limit while making minimal changes to Obamacare. LINK

BUDGET The Wall Street Journal's Janet Hook: " Senate Democrats Press New Front in Budget Battle" Senate leaders attempting to avoid a U.S. debt default remained at loggerheads Sunday and escalated the standoff by reopening the contentious issue of automatic spending cuts, damping hopes that some of Congress's most canny negotiators would break the impasse. As the search for a way to end the partial federal shutdown and avoid a debt crisis shifted to the Senate, Democrats made plain that one of their top priorities was to diminish the next round of across-the-board spending cuts, known as the sequester, due to take effect early next year. LINK

OTHER USA Today's Richard Wolf: " Court to decide if race preference bans hurt diversity" To hear Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette explain it, what could be wrong with a state constitutional amendment that "shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin?" Just about everything, says Mark Rosenbaum of the American Civil Liberties Union and a host of civil rights groups. "While that makes a good bumper sticker … it's not the truth," Rosenbaum says. "Instead of healing the nation's wounds, it's actually opening those wounds." LINK

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