The Note's Must-Reads for Monday, December 16, 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' Jayce Henderson, Amanda VanAllen, Will Cantine and Jordan Mazza

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY ABC News' Matthew Larotonda: " Kerry Returns to Vietnam Waterways on Climate Change Mission" Secretary of State John Kerry today returned to the remote waterways of Vietnam where he previously toured as a gunboat skipper to address a new battle in the region: the impacts of climate change. Speaking on a Mekong Delta market pier, Kerry said the rivers were one of three areas of the world most at risk of environmental damage. LINK

IRAN The New York Daily News' Adam Edelman: " Sen. John McCain warns of further sanctions against Iran" A prominent lawmaker warned Sunday that Congress would push ahead with new sanctions against Iran if further progress isn't made to curb the isolated nation's nuclear program. "I think that it's very likely that we could have a sanctions bill that could take effect at the end of six months if there's no result in the negotiations," Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." LINK

MIDTERM ELECTIONS The Boston Globe's Matt Viser: " Early Start to TV Ads War in Midterm Elections" The barrage of TV advertisements sponsored by a well-funded conservative group features women - in a kitchen over coffee, at work with a laptop, or somberly speaking directly to the camera. Each ad drives home a variation on a theme: "Obamacare doesn't work." The beginning of the 2014 midterm election season and the launch of the most controversial aspects of the Affordable Care Act coincide on the political calendar, and several states are already awash in spending by outside groups. LINK

BUDGET DEAL The Wall Street Journal's Melanie Trottman: " Budget Negotiators See Tax Overhaul Up Next" Having negotiated a big budget deal, House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray (D., Wash.) think the next area for bipartisan agreement could be on a tax overhaul. In a joint, pretaped appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday morning, Mr. Ryan said Republicans want to move on a tax overhaul and could do so early next year. LINK

The Washington Times' Jacqueline Klimas: " $50B a Year in Budget 'Savings' Will Come From Expired Tax Breaks" Those worried that the bipartisan budget making its way through Congress does not include enough deficit reduction can take some solace in the fact that more savings will quietly take effect after a number of tax breaks expire at the end of the year. More than 50 tax incentives will expire on New Year's Eve - ranging from breaks on energy-efficient appliances to biofuel production to investments in businesses that serve low-income communities. LINK

SENATE The New York Times' Jeremy W. Peters: " Senate Prepares To Wrap Up Sluggish 2013" The Senate's final week in session this year promises to be memorable not for legislative business like the pending budget and defense bills but for something far less inspired: the vast amount of time it spends doing nothing in particular. As is typical on Mondays, senators will have their first vote at 5:30 p.m. From there, the rest of the week, during which the Senate will take up the pending bills and a group of presidential nominations, seems certain to be bogged down with the kind of hurry-up-and-wait limbo that has consumed most working weeks in the Senate this year. LINK

The Washington Post's Reid Wilson: " After Senate Budget Vote, Few Hopes For A Productive 2014" The bipartisan budget compromise that passed the House by a wide margin last week has inspired House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to blast outside conservative groups that he said were using Republican members of Congress for their own gain. It has inspired kind words between the two legislators - Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) - who hammered out the deal. And it has inspired hope that, after years of governing by crisis, Congress may begin returning to something resembling regular order. LINK

Politico's David Rogers: " Budget Splits Senate Appropriators" Tuesday's cloture vote on the short-term budget compromise in the Senate rests squarely on the 14 Republicans on the Appropriations Committee. Six are up for reelection in 2014 and may find some reason to back out. But that leaves more than enough to help Democrats get to 60 votes, given the political cover already provided by fellow Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee. All but two of the 29 Republicans on the House panel voted for the deal last Thursday, including members from seven states represented by GOP senators on Senate Appropriations. And after the three-to-one victory in the House, the Appropriations leadership has been so invested in a positive Senate result that even speculation of defeat shows how much Congress's self-confidence has eroded. LINK

HILLARY CLINTON USA Today's Martha T. Moore: " Hillary Clinton may affect campaigns far ahead of 2016" Hillary Rodham Clinton looms large as a potential 2016 presidential candidate, but she could be a major factor in the 2014 elections too. Ready for Hillary, the group organizing supporters nationwide for a potential Clinton presidential campaign, says it will ask its members to support candidates endorsed by Clinton in the 2014 midterm elections, and to push her policy agenda over the next two years. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO " 'This Week': John Kerry on North Korea and Iran" LINK

BOOKMARKS The Note: LINK ABC News Politics: LINK George Stephanopoulos' Blog: LINK ABC News on Twitter: @ThisWeekABC | @ABCPolitics ABC News Mobile: LINK ABC News Apps: LINK ABC News YouTube: LINK

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