The Note's Must-Reads for Wednesday, December 18, 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 and Jordan Mazza

NSA ABC News' Nicki Rossoll and Anneta Konstantinides: " Tech Giants in the NSA's Crosshairs Converge at White House" After months of tangling publicly with the Obama administration over the government's national security surveillance programs, several tech giants had President Obama's ear at a White House meeting today. According to one meeting participant, the bulk of the more than two-hour meeting with President Obama and Vice President Biden was devoted to the NSA program. LINK

BUDGET / DEBT CEILING The Los Angeles Times' Lisa Mascaro: " Budget deal clears Senate hurdle" A rare bipartisan budget deal aimed at averting another government shutdown cleared its biggest remaining political hurdle Tuesday, ending the best chance opponents had of killing the compromise and worsening tensions between the Republican Party's tea party wing and establishment conservatives. A dozen Republican senators - more than some had anticipated - bucked party leaders and joined with Democrats in a 67-33 vote to overcome a GOP filibuster threat, setting the stage for final passage in the Democratic-controlled body Wednesday. LINK

The New York Times' Peter Baker and Jonathan Weisman: " Budget Deal Offers a Reprieve From Washington Paralysis" Something odd happened here on Tuesday. The Senate advanced a two-year bipartisan budget deal that will now surely be sent to the president for his signature later this week without waiting for a cliff, a chasm, a deadline or a shutdown to force its hand. Just like that, declarations sounded in Washington that the city almost seemed to be working again. LINK

Politico's Seung Min Kim: " Senate Poised to Pass Budget Deal" The Senate voted Tuesday to advance a bipartisan two-year budget deal - a move that puts Capitol Hill one step closer to a thaw in the fiscal wars that have paralyzed Washington. The chamber agreed 67-33 to cut off debate on the budget agreement reached by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) last week. Final passage is virtually guaranteed now and a vote is slated for no later than Wednesday. LINK

USA Today's Susan Davis: " GOP Already Eyes Next Fiscal Fight: Debt Ceiling" When one Washington budget battle ends, another is just beginning. With the U.S. Senate on track to approve a two-year budget framework Wednesday - which President Obama will sign before he heads to Hawaii on Friday - congressional Republicans have begun laying the groundwork for a 2014 confrontation over the nation's debt limit. LINK

PAUL RYAN The Hill's Russell Berman: " Ryan won't run for White House in 2016, his GOP colleagues say" Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has a choice to make. The Republican Budget Committee chairman is the most popular conservative in the House, and over the coming year, he will have to decide whether to seek a more powerful committee gavel, launch a bid for House leadership or take a risky leap into the crowded waters of the 2016 presidential campaign. In interviews The Hill conducted with more than two dozen House Republicans from across the ideological spectrum over the last couple of weeks, many of Ryan's colleagues said they are doubtful he will run for president in 2016. Most believe that concerns for his young family will lead him to lay claim to the job he's always wanted: chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's John D. McKinnon and Patrick O'Connor: " Ryan Seeks to Head Ways and Means in 2015" Rep. Paul Ryan, last year's GOP vice-presidential nominee, is setting his sights on a new challenge: He plans to be the next chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee starting in 2015, a move that would give him a high-profile platform for advancing conservative policy ideas. Fresh off a bipartisan budget deal that restores some certainty to the way Congress spends money, Mr. Ryan is making a push to help the current Ways and Means chairman, Michigan Rep. Dave Camp, rewrite the tax code, an ambitious undertaking that presents major political hurdles. LINK

HOUSE The Washington Times' Jim McElhatton: " House seeks Fast and Furious gun-walking documents" House lawyers late Monday filed court papers asking a federal judge to force the Justice Department to turn over records to reveal the extent of efforts to stonewall a congressional probe into a botched weapons investigation known as Fast and Furious. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee wants the records to wrap up its probe, which has shifted from the bungled gun-walking operation to "an apparent effort, over a period of many months, by high level DOJ officials" to hinder the investigation, lawyers argued in a court pleading filed Tuesday night in federal court in Washington. LINK

TEA PARTY The Washington Post's Stephanie McCrummen: " Feeling besieged, tea party groups prepare for policy battles" It had been four days since House Speaker John A. Boehner slammed conservative groups for opposing a bipartisan budget deal, saying they'd "lost all credibility," and "I don't care what they do," and other things read as a declaration of independence from the tea party movement that has held sway over the Republican Party. Now it was Monday evening far from Washington, in a restaurant called Tommy's Country Ham House, and the very people who felt insulted by Boehner's remarks were beginning to gather - a crowd of 150 or so coming to say they were not done yet. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO " Federal Judge Rules NSA Data Collection Unconstitutional" LINK

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