The Note's Must-Reads for Thursday, February 13, 2014

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

Compil ed by ABC News' Jayce Henderson, Will Cantine and Jordan Mazza

DEBT CEILING The Hill's Erik Wasson, Ramsey Cox and Peter Schroeder: " Dramatic debt vote stirs Senate" The Senate sent a bill hiking the debt ceiling to President Obama's desk on Wednesday, but only after a dramatic fight that forced GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) to cast a surprise vote advancing the legislation. McConnell and top lieutenant Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) reluctantly backed ending debate after it became clear that no one in their conference wanted to cast the deciding 60th vote. Sixty votes were needed to overcome a filibuster by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who complained that Congress was raising the debt ceiling without demanding any curbs on Washington's spending. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Lisa Mascaro: " Senate approves debt ceiling bill after last-minute fight within GOP" Congress gave final approval Wednesday to legislation allowing more federal borrowing to pay the nation's bills, but not without a dramatic scene in the Senate as Republican leaders scrambled to find enough votes to head off a filibuster attempt led by one of their colleagues. The House had swiftly approved the bill this week, and smooth passage was expected in the Senate, ending three years of partisan brinkmanship over the debt limit. LINK

The Washington Times' Stephen Dinan: " GOP leaders help Senate pass large increase in debt limit" Congress approved a massive increase in the federal debt Wednesday, but only after Republican leaders linked arms and jumped together, helping Democrats pass a plan that will let President Obama borrow as much money as needed to cover federal obligations over the next 13 months. The vote was about as dramatic as they get. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, held out for 40 minutes before casting the key vote to break his fellow Republicans' filibuster. His top lieutenants then followed suit, clearing the way for a final vote to approve the debt ceiling increase. LINK

The New York Times' Ashley Parker and Jonathan Weisman: " G.O.P. Senate Leaders Avert Debt Ceiling Crisis" It was a moment of real drama in a chamber known for its somnambulism. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, counted votes on his hand, at one point holding up three fingers as he searched for the remaining votes. LINK

Politico's Manu Raju and Burgess Everett: " Behind the Scenes of the Dramatic Debt Vote" Sen. Ted Cruz and the GOP rank and file ultimately backed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip John Cornyn into a corner on the debt ceiling increase. The leaders had wanted to allow the toxic measure to pass with just 51 votes so all 45 Republicans could vote against it. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Kristina Peterson and Janet Hook: " Boehner Strategy Signals A Shift For Republicans" When House Republicans huddled at a private retreat two weeks ago, Rep. Raul Labrador offered an unexpected proposal: Let's extend the federal borrowing limit with no strings attached and make Democrats muster the votes. Coming from one of the House's most conservative members, it was a surprising move. The Idaho lawmaker said he opposed raising the debt ceiling, but wanted his party to skip a protracted fight it was unlikely to win. This week, that's exactly what happened. LINK

HEALTH CARE ABC News' Matthew Larotonda: " Obamacare Enrollment At 3.3 Million, Nearly Halfway To Goal" The latest enrollment numbers for the federal health insurance marketplace are out and the results are mixed. The Department of Health and Human Services reports that 3.3 million have found coverage through either the federal or state exchanges by Feb. 1, with 1.1 million signing up in January alone, a 53 percent increase. It's slightly better than the 1 million initially projected for the month. It also comes off December's dramatic surge of 1.8 million newly enrolled. The boom was partially the result of fixes to the marketplace's disastrous October launch and the resulting backlog of users. LINK

USA Today's Kelly Kennedy: " More Than 1M Signed Up For Health Coverage In January" More than 1.1 million people signed up for health insurance coverage through state and federal exchanges in January, including a rising number of young, healthy enrollees, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday. That's 3.3 million now covered by private plans, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. While enrollment has grown, it is still short of the 4.4 million enrollees that HHS had projected by this point, according to a document the department provided last September. That projection came before the exchange's troubled opening that made signing up for insurance difficult until the problems were fixed Nov. 30. LINK

The Boston Globe's Joshua Miller: " State Health Care Site Official Blasted" Facing a swell of anger from legislators, Governor Deval Patrick's new point person in charge of fixing the state's broken health insurance website pledged a Herculean effort, but did not offer an exact timeline or a specific plan for when and how the website will be repaired so people can enroll in the coverage of their choice. During a State House hearing that lasted more than three hours Wednesday, Sarah Iselin, an insurance executive who Patrick said last week would take the lead in fixing the troubled Massachusetts Health Connector site, said she understands the gravity of the problem, is working to fully grasp its parameters, and will lead an all-out push to fix it. LINK

The Washington Post's Amy Goldstein: " Health insurance enrollment on target in January" For the first time since the federal and state health-insurance marketplaces opened early last fall, the number of people who signed up for coverage exceeded the government's expectations for the month in January, bringing the overall total to about 3.3 million. Across the country, nearly 1.2 million people enrolled in health plans last month through the new insurance exchanges - more than federal officials had envisioned when they compiled monthly targets late last summer, weeks before the sign-ups began. LINK

BISHOP ORLANDO FINDLAYTER The New York Daily News' Rocco Parascandola, Ben Chapman and Bill Hutchinson: " Bishop sprung by Mayor de Blasio has connections to President Obama" The minister with a get-out-of-jail-free card is not only a favorite of Mayor de Blasio, he also has political connections stretching all the way to the White House. Bishop Orlando Findlayter, who was spared a night in jail after Hizzoner made a call to a high-ranking cop, attended an immigration powwow with President Obama last March. And he's been pictured among other clergy with Obama and Vice President Biden. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO " Obama Signs Executive Order To Raise Minimum Wage In New Federal Contracts" LINK " Is Obama's Syria Policy Working? Carney Says Yes" LINK " Why Doesn't America Have An Ambassador To France?" 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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