The Note’s Must-Reads for Thursday, February 6, 2014

By Will Cantine

Feb 5, 2014 3:40am

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’ Will Cantine, Janine Elliot and Matt Busekroos

ABC News’ Ali Weinberg: “Former White House Officials Back Keystone” While President Obama has been publicly vague about his views on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, several former White House officials are now pushing for the project’s approval, going well beyond the administration’s official stance. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry haven’t openly taken sides on the issue, saying they don’t want to get ahead of the decision-making process, which has included research and input from various federal agencies and the public. LINK

The Hill’s Laura Barron-Lopez: “Salazar: Keystone XL A ‘Win-Win’ Project” Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Wednesday said he backs building the Keystone XL pipeline, calling it a “win-win” project. At an energy conference in Houston, Salazar said the pipeline could be built safely, with the right conditions. Salazar told the Associated Press that the pipeline has the potential to be a “win-win” project, benefiting energy security while increasing conservation efforts in South Dakota, Montana and other states through which the pipeline runs. LINK

The Washington Times’ Stephen Dinan: “Conservatives Pessimistic On Immigration Reform In 2014” Conservative Republicans said Wednesday that they don’t believe their chamber will tackle an immigration bill this year, saying that while they welcomed the House GOP leaders’ principles as a start to a conversation, it’s premature to try to pass a bill. Speaking at a Heritage Foundation event, Republican House members said they don’t trust President Obama enough to follow through on the strict security measures the GOP would write into any bill, and said that must come first. LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Laura Meckler and Kristina Peterson: “House GOP Cools To Immigration Overhaul” Just days after House Republican leaders backed legalization for most immigrants in the U.S. illegally, opponents in the party are making clear they will resist the push, casting fresh doubt on chances for legislative movement on immigration this year. The focus of opposition within the House GOP is less on sensitivities over amnesty or a potential flood of unneeded new workers, and more on politics. Opponents say they worry that moving ahead on the issue could divide Republicans and hand Democrats a victory in an election year when the GOP has the advantage. Many Republicans also question whether President Barack Obama would enforce the law if one is passed. LINK

Politico’s Seung Min Kim: “Immigration Reform’s Other Hurdle Forget about that pathway to citizenship. The Republican divide on whether undocumented immigrants can become citizens is consuming most of the headlines. But there’s a trickier issue at play that ultimately could prove to be a bigger stumbling block for immigration reform: a guest-worker program for future immigrants. Last March, the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reached a delicately crafted deal on the number of low-skilled workers — such as hospitality employees — who can legally come into the country. That deal is a major reason why the Senate reform bill was able to pass in June. LINK

The New York Daily News’ Erica Pearson: “Petition Calls On President Obama To Use Executive Powers To Halt Millions Deportations” An immigrant rights group on Tuesday raised the pressure on President Obama to use his executive powers to stop millions of people from being deported. The National Day Laborer Organizing Network and six individual immigrants filed a formal petition to the Department of Homeland Security, arguing the President can use his “extremely broad and virtually unreviewable discretion” to allow millions of undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. — as he did in 2012 for those who were brought to America illegally as children. LINK

Washington Post’s Robert Costa: Boehner Proposes Linking Debt-Limit Hike To A Restoration Of Recent Cuts To Military Benefits” House Speaker John A. Boehner scrambled to sell a new debt-ceiling solution to his Republican colleagues on Wednesday, encouraging them to demand a restoration of recently cut military benefits in exchange for a one-year extension of the federal government’s borrowing authority. Though Boehner (R-Ohio) did not formally endorse the idea as his own, he did ask his lieutenants to test it among rank-and-file ­Republicans. LINK

USA Today’s Susan Page: “Sen. Lee: No Fight On Debt Ceiling. Unfortunately” Utah Sen. Mike Lee backed the cliffhanger tactics that led to a government shutdown about the budget last fall. Now, the Tea Party favorite complains that congressional Republicans are poised to raise the debt ceiling without attaching the sort of conditions that could lead to another battle with the administration. Unfortunately, in his view. “I think there should be (conditions); I think there won’t be this time around,” Lee predicted in an interview Wednesday with Capital Download, USA TODAY’s weekly newsmaker video series. “That’s where I see it headed.” LINK

NY Times’s Michael Barbaro, Nicholas Confessore and Jonathan Martin: “Democrats Aim To Capitalize On Christie Problems” Democratic Party operatives have churned out 11 different videos depicting Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey as a revenge-happy gridlock maker who cannot keep his story straight. They are unleashing attacks on any Republican in the country who dares to defend him publicly, from a potential Senate candidate in New Hampshire to a New York congressman. And they are coordinating strategy at the highest levels of the party with a new standing agenda item on conference calls: how to undermine Mr. Christie, a top Republican prospect for reclaiming the White House. LINK

Bloomberg’s Indira A.R. Lakshmanan and Kambiz Foroohar: “Iran Willing To Modify Its Atrak Reactor, Official says” An Iranian official said for the first time that Iran may modify a heavy-water reactor near Arak, signaling a willingness to compromise on one of the most contentious issues in efforts to curtail its nuclear program. “We can do some design change — in other words, make some change in the design in order to produce less plutonium in this reactor and in this way allay the worries and mitigate the concerns,” Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, told Iran’s official English-language Press TV in an interview yesterday. LINK

Athletes Question Sochi Readiness Amid Living ConditionsLINK

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