The Note's Must-Reads for Tuesday, March 19, 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, Amanda VanAllen and Will Cantine

ECONOMY The Hill's Erik Wasson: " Leaders stop budget defections" House and Senate leaders appear to have minimized defections on their budget plans in a show of strength ahead of fiscal fights this summer. The dueling blueprints from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) tested party unity on both sides, but a whip count by The Hill indicates leaders have enough support to pass them. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Don Lee and Shan Li: " California unemployment rate holds at 9.8%, highest in U.S." California's jobless rate was unchanged at 9.8% in January for the second straight month, and that lack of improvement put the Golden State in a tie with Rhode Island for the worst unemployment in the U.S. On the other end of the spectrum, North Dakota had the lowest jobless rate, 3.3%, the government said Monday in releasing updated and revised employment data for all 50 states. LINK

HILLARY CLINTON The Washington Times' Cheryl K. Chumley: " Eyeing the Oval Office in 2016? Hillary Clinton announces: I support gay marriage" Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says she now supports same-sex marriage - an announcement that could be seen as a political step toward a White House run. Gays are "full and equal citizens and deserve the rights of citizenship," she said in a five-minute video released by the Human Rights Campaign on Monday morning. "That includes marriage." LINK

GOP The New York Times' Sarah Wheaton and Michael D. Shear: " Blunt Report Says G.O.P Needs to Regroup For '16" Republican leaders on Monday offered a sweeping self-critique of a party they said was in an "ideological cul-de-sac" and needed better outreach and a new brand of conservatism to appeal to younger voters, ethnic minorities and women. But the call for change in preparation for the 2016 presidential election faces a Republican establishment in Washington that has so far shown little interest in altering its political trajectory in the party's continuing battles with President Obama and Democrats. LINK

USA Today's Catalina Camia: " GOP stresses minority outreach in self-critique" The Republican Party rolled out a scathing review of itself Monday, promising a host of new strategies designed to make it more appealing and inclusive to minorities, and winning some praise from Democrats. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Prebius unveiled the report with 219 recommendations on messaging, outreach, technology and data collection, saying focus groups viewed the Republican Party as a bunch of "stuffy old men." LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Neil King Jr.: " GOP Says Party Needs Overhaul" A blunt self-critique by the national Republican Party concludes that while the GOP is flourishing in many state capitals, it is "increasingly marginalized" and out of touch at the federal level. The Republican National Committee's postmortem of November's election losses, released Monday, draws a contrast between the "inclusive and appealing" manner of the country's GOP governors and the party's "federal wing," whose message "is not working" beyond core Republican adherents. LINK

CONGRESS Bloomberg's Jose Monegro and Susannah Nesmith: "Menendez Prostitution Claims Rejected By Dominican Police" Police in the Dominican Republic said three women were paid by an attorney to falsely claim on videotape that they had sex with U.S. Senator Robert Menendez. Maximo Baez Aybar, a police spokesman, said at a press conference in Santo Domingo today that a Dominican attorney asked another lawyer to find the three women for him, saying the tape would be used in a divorce case. LINK

GUN CONTROL The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe and Philip Rucker: "Gun Control Groups Turn Focus To 'Riders' Backed By NRA" Gun-control advocates are hoping to reverse some of the political influence of the National Rifle Association and other gun rights proponents by urging the White House to strip the president's next budget proposal of any provision that limits how federal agencies track firearms. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS " President Obama Announces Choice for Labor Secretary" LINK

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