The Note's Must-Reads for Monday February 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' Carrie Halperin and Jayce Henderson


ABC News' Ted Hesson: " Leaked White House Immigration Bill Puts Pressure on Senate" A draft of a White House immigration reform bill leaked to USA Today on Saturday puts pressure on the Senate to deliver with its own package of comprehensive legislation. The draft features an earned path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, so long as they meet certain requirements. Qualifying immigrants would be able to apply for a green card within eight years, according to USA Today. The bill also contains provisions related to border security and a mandatory system to make sure businesses check the work eligibility of their employees, USA Today reported. LINK

The New York Times' Michael Shear and Julia Preston: " Obama's Plan Sees 8-Year Wait for Illegal Immigrants" A plan by President Obama for an overhaul of the immigration system would put illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship that could begin after about eight years and would require them to go to the back of the line behind legal applicants, according to a draft of the legislation that the White House has circulated in the administration. LINK

USA Today's Alan Gomez: " Obama aide defends decision to prepare immigration bill" Chief of staff Denis McDonough said the White House still wants Congress to lead the effort to draft and pass an overhaul to the nation's immigration laws. President Obama's chief of staff on Sunday defended the administration's decision to prepare an immigration bill even as bipartisan groups in Congress are writing their own versions. LINK

CONGRESS The Washington Post's T.W. Farnam: " Congressional staffers often travel on tabs of foreign governments" About a dozen congressional staffers flew business class on a trip to China last summer and stayed at luxury hotels while touring the Great Wall and the Forbidden City and receiving a "briefing on ancient artifacts and dynasties" at the Shanghai Museum. The all-expenses-paid visit came courtesy of China. The Chinese government hosted a day of meetings with officials in Beijing followed by eight days packed with outings to destinations often frequented by tourists along with a stop at a missile frigate and two others related to national security - the official theme of the trip. LINK

Politico's Alex Isenstadt: " Elizabeth Colbert Busch's serious House run" Elizabeth Colbert Busch has lost at least one election, against some very stiff competition: a vote among the eight Colbert siblings, including her comedian brother Stephen, to decide who's the funniest. Even Stephen lost, it turned out. "My sister Mary won," she said in a 15-minute phone interview with POLITICO on Friday. "Everybody has a really great Irish sense of humor about them." It's safe to say Colbert Busch hopes her nascent campaign for Congress will turn out differently. LINK

The Hill's Ben Geman: " Dems hold fire on climate votes" Congressional Democrats will not commit to forcing votes on major climate change bills, even as they try to build political momentum behind President Obama's promise to make global warming a second-term priority. Obama's State of the Union address called on Congress to create a "market-based solution" such as cap-and-trade to limit greenhouse gases, but vowed new executive action if lawmakers do not act. LINK

IRAQ The Los Angeles Times' Ned Parker: " Baghdad bombings reflect sectarian tensions" A string of bombings in Shiite Muslim neighborhoods in eastern Baghdad left as many as two dozen people dead and reflected Iraq's heightened sectarian tensions in the wake of nearly two months of Sunni protests. The bombs went off around 11 a.m., with three explosions in the Shiite slum of Sadr City and three in other nearby neighborhoods. Preliminary news reports put the death toll at 21 to 28, with more than 100 wounded. LINK

HEALTH CARE The Washington Times' Tom Howell Jr.: " As 'Obamacare' health exchange deadline passes, 26 states opt in with feds" The backbone of President Obama's health care law is taking shape, with 26 states choosing to let the federal government run the online insurance markets mandated by his signature reforms instead of keeping the job in-house or partnering with the feds. The Department of Health and Human Services had encouraged states to run their own markets, or "exchanges," that help the uninsured find coverage. LINK

ECONOMY The Wall Street Journal's Ian Talley, Natasha Bereton-Fujuki and Paul Hannon: " After G-20, All Eyes Are on the Yen" The world's largest economies will face the first test of their ability to present a united front on currency policy when foreign-exchange markets open in Asia on Monday. The Group of 20 took a step toward common global guidelines for exchange-rate policies with a pledge Saturday to refrain from targeting their currency policies to gain a competitive trading advantage. LINK

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