The Note's Must-Reads for Thursday, January 31, 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' Jayce Henderson, Amanda VanAllen, and Jordan Mazza

IMMIGRATION REFORM: ABC News' Jordan Fabian: " Obama Confident Immigration Reform Passes This Year" President Barack Obama expressed confidence on Wednesday that he would sign comprehensive immigration reform into law by the end of this year. LINK

USA Today's David Jackson: " Obama: Immigration bill should be done this year" President Obama said Wednesday he hopes to sign an immigration bill by the end of the year. LINK

The Hill's Jonathan Easley: " Obama expects immigration reform bill as early as June" President Obama said Wednesday he expects an immigration reform bill will be signed into law by year's end, and possibly as early as June. "I'm hopeful that this can get done, and I don't think that it should take many, many months," Obama said in an interview with Telemundo. "I think this is something we should be able to get done certainly this year and I'd like to see if we could get it done sooner, in the first half of the year if possible." LINK

The New York Times' Michael D. Shear and Mark Landler: " On Immigration, Obama Assumes Upper Hand" As the specifics of immigration legislation take shape on Capitol Hill, President Obama is making it clear that he wants the overhaul on his terms. Officials in the West Wing are convinced that the politics of the immigration issue have firmly shifted in their direction. LINK

Bloomberg's Kathleen Hunter and Lisa Lerer: " Senators' 2014 Campaigns Complicated by Immigration Issue" As President Barack Obama courts Hispanic support for rewriting U.S. immigration laws, the issue is complicating the political calculations for a group of senators whose votes he will need to win passage. While leaders of both parties say addressing immigration is crucial to capturing the growing Hispanic vote, senators including Montana's Max Baucus, a Democrat, and South Carolina's Lindsey Graham, a Republican, will be running for re-election in 2014 in states where voters have been hostile to any plan that might be characterized as giving amnesty to those who entered the country illegally. LINK

GUN CONTROL: The Los Angeles Times' Melanie Mason: " Giffords testifies at heated Senate hearing on gun control" "Speaking is difficult, but I need to say something important," former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords told her onetime colleagues. "Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something. "It would be hard, but the time is now. You must act." Her words, read from a single, handwritten page, were among the camera-ready scenes as the Senate began hearings on gun control Wednesday, in a charged atmosphere with each side reaching for emotional force. LINK

The New York Daily News' James Warren and Dan Friedman: " Gabby Giffords says 'too many children are dying' during emotional plea to Senate committee for stricter gun control" A halting but riveting Gabrielle Giffords told Congress on Wednesday that it must act now to stem gun violence, telling senators "too many children are dying" just two years after she was shot at point-blank range and suffered brain damage. The former Democratic Arizona congresswoman, who struggles to walk and is partially blind, stoutly read a brief statement in a high-pitched, almost childlike voice as her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, sat at her side in a packed and dramatically hushed hearing room. LINK

The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe and David A. Farenthold: "Gabrielle Giffords speaks at Senate hearing on gun violence: 'You must act. Be bold.'" She spoke just 72 words, reading slowly and carefully from a lined sheet of paper where a speech therapist had transcribed her thoughts. One of the many things former House member GabĀ­rielle Giffords has lost is the congressional luxury of being long-winded. LINK

Politico's Ginger Gibson: " Senators tread cautiously at gun hearing" Gabrielle Giffords spoke for just over a minute at Wednesday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with a plea for Congress to get its act together on gun violence. With her focused delivery and simple message, she set the tone for what came next: a four-hour hearing marked by a distinct lack of drama, fighting or a conclusion. LINK

SPENDING CUTS: The Washington Times' Sean Lengell: " Let the sequesters begin, some Republicans say" Congressional Republicans are preparing to let $85 billion in automatic spending cuts begin to bite March 1, saying they have become convinced that letting the "sequesters" take effect is the only way they will be able to wrangle real spending cuts from President Obama. House Speaker John A. Boehner, Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and other Republicans are talking increasingly tough about the sequesters, saying they are willing to accept the deep cuts to military and domestic spending in order to force Mr. Obama to come up with his own counteroffer. LINK

OTHER: The Wall Street Journal's Sara Murray: " Senators Set to Grill Pentagon Nominee" A Senate hearing Thursday will likely give clues to which has had the bigger effect on Chuck Hagel's battle to become defense secretary: His effort to court senators privately, or attacks on the airwaves to undermine his nomination. LINK

The Boston Globe's Frank Phillips: " 'Mo' Cowan, ex-Patrick aide, tapped as interim senator" Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has picked William "Mo" Cowan, his former chief of staff, to serve as the state's interim US senator until the successor to John F. Kerry is chosen by the voters in a June 25 special election. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO: " Gabby Giffords Makes Appearance at Gun Control Talks" LINK

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