The Note's Must-Reads for Tuesday, December 10, 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' Amanda VanAllen, Will Cantine, Jayce Henderson and Jordan Mazza

DEFENSE BILL ABC News' Arlette Saenz: " Lawmakers Reached Deal To Fund Military In 2014" With the clock ticking until the House of Representatives departs Washington, D.C., for the holidays on Friday, leaders of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees hammered out a deal today to move forward with the defense authorization bill to fund the nation's military next year. The chairmen and ranking members of each committee announced that they reached an agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act, which will authorize $552 billion in national defense spending and nearly $81 billion for overseas contingency operations. LINK

The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe and Lori Montgomery: " Congress, With the Clock Ticking, Nears Deals On Defense And Budget Bills" After compiling a reed-thin record of achievement for 2013, the House and Senate began their final week of the year together in Washington on the verge of breakthroughs on a new defense policy bill and budget agreement, deals that could permit lawmakers to boast of modest year-end successes and enjoy their first extended Christmas break since at least the start of the Obama presidency. Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) is determined to adjourn the House for the year on Friday. LINK

The Hill's Jeremy Herb: " Clock Is Ticking On $607B Defense Bill" The House and Senate are suspending regular order on a $607 billion Defense authorization bill in a last-ditch effort to get it to President Obama's desk before the end of the year. The move likely means there won't be votes this year on tougher Iran sanctions or a controversial proposal to take sexual assault cases outside the military chain of command. The defense panels hope to quickly pass the measure through both chambers - without amendments - because the House plans to adjourn at the end of the week. LINK

The New York Daily News' Dan Friedman: " Sen. Gillibrand's Legislation To Curb Sexual Assaults In Military Not Part Of Defense Bill" A campaign by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to reform how the military addresses the epidemic of sexual assaults in its ranks suffered a setback Monday. Leaders of the House and Senate armed service committees agreed on a sweeping defense authorization bill that doesn't contain her contentious proposal. She could try to tack her proposal onto the bill through an amendment - but that would scuttle the deal to pass the measure before Christmas break, lawmakers said. LINK

BUDGET DEAL Politico's Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan: " Why the Timing is Right for a Budget Deal" John Boehner and Barack Obama failed. Harry Reid, Boehner and Mitch McConnell didn't fare much better. Eric Cantor and Joe Biden barely got started. But with the year winding to a close, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) are nearing a modest, yet important, budget deal that senior aides say could be rolled out as soon as Tuesday and voted on later this week. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Jack Nicas: " Budget Deal Would Hit Air Passengers" Congressional leaders seeking a budget deal look likely to include a measure doubling a tax on U.S. airline passengers, drawing protests from the industry and consumer groups. Commercial fliers in the U.S. typically pay $2.50 a flight for a "September 11th security fee," instituted about a decade ago to help fund the then-newly formed Transportation Security Administration. Any budget deal will almost certainly increase that fee, according to officials close to congressional negotiations. LINK

HEALTH CARE The New York Times' Lizette Alvarez and Jennifer Preston: " Health Care Exchange Is Vastly Improved, Users Say" After two months of false starts, error messages and pleas for patience from the once-hobbled federal online health care exchange, Karen Egozi, the chief executive of the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, watched on Monday as counselors navigated the website's pages with relative ease. Click. Next page. Click. Next page. The website,, was working so well that Ms. Egozi, who oversees the 45 navigators in eight locations who help consumers enroll in health plans, said her team gave the system an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10, meaning that most people got as far as selecting a plan or taking home information to select a plan. LINK

The Washington Times' Tom Howell Jr.: " Ted Cruz Sees Legal Landmines Ahead For Obamacare" One of Congress' staunchest critics of Obamacare released a report Monday that cheers on legal challenges to the overhaul and says the White House overstepped its authority by delaying aspects of the law. Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican who helped engineer a lengthy government funding stalemate earlier this year in a bid to block money for the new health care law, said many aspects of the Affordable Care Act are "constitutionally or statutorily suspect" and that the entire law should be repealed. LINK

SUPREME COURT Bloomberg's Greg Stohr: " Airline Immunity On Threat Reports Tested At High Court" The U.S. Supreme Court debated the reach of airlines' legal immunity when they report potential security threats, as the justices heard the case of a pilot upset about losing his job. The justices today reviewed a $1.4 million award won by the pilot, William L. Hoeper, who sued Air Wisconsin Airlines Corp. for telling federal officials as he was preparing to board a flight as a passenger that he was "unstable" and possibly armed. Closely held Air Wisconsin flies for US Airways Group Inc. LINK

GUNS USA Today's Susan Davis: " Congress Extends Plastic Gun Ban" The U.S. Senate approved a 10-year extension of a federal law banning guns that can go undetected by metal detectors or X-ray machines. The law was scheduled to expire at midnight Monday. The Senate approved without objection the extension of the 1988 Undetectable Firearms Act following a last-ditch effort by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., to expand the scope of the law. 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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