The Note’s Must-Reads for Monday, January 6, 2014

By Will Cantine

Jan 6, 2014 4:37am

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 www.abcnews.com

Compiled by ABC News’ Will Cantine, Jayce Henderson and Jordan Mazza

LIZ CHENEY
ABC News’ Jeff Zeleny and Rick Klein: “Liz Cheney to Abandon Wyoming Senate Bid, GOP Officials Say Liz Cheney is poised to drop out of the Senate race in Wyoming, two Republican officials told ABC News, reaching a decision over the holidays that it was time to abandon her Republican primary challenge against Sen. Mike Enzi.  Cheney, the 47-year-old daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney who was making her first foray into politics as a candidate, is expected to make an announcement as early as today. LINK

CONGRESS
The Wall Street Journal’s Janet Hook and Siobhan Hughes: “Congress Returns To Spar, Set Up Midterm Elections Members of Congress returning to work this week are plunging immediately into policy battles that will shape their campaigns for the November elections.  The Senate is poised to debate a plan to revive expanded benefits for the long-term unemployed, which lapsed in December, but Democrats on Sunday were still trying to gather needed votes from Republicans. With a procedural vote coming as soon as Monday, only one GOP senator had publicly declared support for the measure. Four more are needed. LINK

USA Today’s Fredreka Schouten: Congress Is Back In Action – And Divided As Ever” Congress resumes work Monday as divided as ever on the nation’s priorities and focused on themes lawmakers hope will resonate with voters ahead of November’s midterm elections.  Democrats, who have seized on income inequality as a major theme of the 2014 campaign, are pushing to increase the $7.25-an-hour federal minimum wage and have scheduled a test vote Monday night in the Senate on a bill to extend long-term unemployment insurance for people out of work for 26 weeks or longer. LINK

The Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Mascaro: “Congress Looks Ahead To A Year Of Pre-Election Battles” Congress comes back to session this week with leaders of both parties planning a war of words in 2014 — dueling agendas that promise little substantive legislation but lots of messages aimed at establishing clear contrasts for voters heading toward the midterm election. After they dispatch a few must-pass fiscal measures early in the year, legislators seem unlikely to put together major accomplishments. Rather, the Republican-led House and the Democratic-controlled Senate will essentially become something like sound stages for the advertising wars that will unfold in the handful of states and districts that could decide partisan control of the next Congress. LINK

The Hill’s Alexander Bolton: “Battle Over Jobless Benefits Will Consume Start Of 2014” Senate Democratic leaders feel cautiously optimistic they have the 60 votes they need to advance unemployment benefits legislation on Monday, but that marks only the start of the congressional battle. Even if the legislation passes the Senate next week, it faces an uphill road in the House. Advocates for extended benefits say the fight could play out between the chambers for weeks. There is growing sentiment among Republicans that it’s time to stop extended federal unemployment benefits after nearly six years of recession and slow recovery. LINK

The Washington Times’ Jacqueline Kilmas: “Harry Reid: Blame Republicans If 2014 Is As Bad AS 2013 In Congress” Congress is taking on different battles in 2014, but the partisan fighting will remain largely the same and Republicans are to blame, according to the Senate’s top Democrat. “Unless the Republicans in Congress decide they should do something for the American people, I’m sorry to say that’s true,” Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said Sunday on “Face the Nation, when asked if 2014 would be as unproductive as 2013. LINK

The New York Daily News’ Dan Friedman: “Gridlock In Congress Expected To Worsen With Midterm Elections Looming” If you thought Congress was useless in 2013, just wait until this year. Congress passed just 58 bills in 2013, the fewest since the institution began counting in the 1940s. With midterm elections looming and the two major parties at loggerheads over just about everything, the gridlock expected this year could make 2013 seem like the good old days. “I can’t imagine Congress doing much more than nominations and (annual) appropriations bills,” said Jim Manley, a former top aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). LINK

FOREIGN AFFAIRS
The New York Times’ Michael Gordon: “On Tour of Mideast, Kerry Says Iran Might Play Role in Syria Peace Talks” Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday that Iran might play a role at the peace talks on Syria in Switzerland this month. It was the first time that a senior American official has indicated that Iran might be involved in the session, which is scheduled to begin Jan. 22, even if it was not a formal participant. LINK

The Washington Post’s Loveday Morris and Anne Gearan: “Kerry Says U.S. Will Help Iraq Against al-Qaeda But Won’t Send Troops Back In” Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Sunday that the United States is ready to help Iraq in any way possible as that country began a major offensive to wrest control of two cities from al-Qaeda-linked militants. But he made it clear that no American troops would be sent in. Kerry described the militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, as “the most dangerous players” in the region. But as Iraqi forces launched airstrikes and clashed with the militants in western Anbar province on Sunday, Kerry said it was Iraq’s battle to fight. LINK

HILLARY CLINTON
Politico’s Maggie Haberman: “Hillary Clinton’s Shadow Campaign” Early last summer in her Georgian-style home near Washington’s Embassy Row, Hillary Clinton met with a handful of aides for a detailed presentation on preparing for a 2016 presidential campaign. Three officials from the Democratic consulting firm Dewey Square Group — veteran field organizer Michael Whouley, firm founder Charlie Baker and strategist Jill Alper, whose expertise includes voter attitudes toward women candidates — delivered a dispassionate, numbers-driven assessment. They broke down filing deadlines in certain states, projected how much money Clinton would need to raise and described how field operations have become more sophisticated in the era of Barack Obama. LINK

MARIJUANA
Bloomberg’s Alison Vekshin: “Pot Prices Double As Colorado Begins Recreational Sales” At Medicine Man Denver, a shop that began selling marijuana for recreational use last week, people waited in line to get their first taste of legal weed. Some shouted “Freedom!” to the cheering crowd as they walked out with bags of dope. They also paid about double the cost of medical marijuana. Customers were charged $45 for an eighth of an ounce of recreational pot, compared with $25 for an identical amount that he sells for medical purposes, said Andy Williams, the president and chief executive officer. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO
‘This Week’: Sen. Rand PaulLINK
‘This Week’: Sen. Charles SchumerLINK
‘This Week’: Powerhouse RoundtableLINK
Dennis Rodman Organizes American B-Ball Game For North Korean LeaderLINK

BOOKMARKS
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ABC News Politics: LINK
George Stephanopoulos’ Blog: LINK
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