The Note's Must-Reads for Thursday, March 21, 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

POTUS IN ISRAEL ABC News' Mary Bruce and Jonathan Karl: " In Israel, Obama Vows To Prevent Nuclear Iran" Seeking to reassure the United States' primary ally in the Middle East, President Obama today told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his administration remains committed to doing "what is necessary" to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Charles Levinson and Colleen McCain Nelson: " U.S., Israeli Leaders Seek To Bridge Divide" President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exchanged hearty back pats, smiles and jokes as they sought to showcase a mended relationship on the first day of a visit by the American president. LINK

The Boston Globe's Bryan Bender: " Kerry Expected To Play Pivotal Role In Any Mideast Talks" Secretary of State John F. Kerry is playing a backstage role as President Obama meets this week with senior Israeli and Palestinian leaders on the first foreign trip of his second term. But once the initial excitement of the presidential trip subsides, it will be up to Kerry - who has a deep reservoir of credibility with both adversaries in one of the region's most intractable disputes - to try to build momentum and jump-start long-stalled peace talks, according to American, Israeli and Arab specialists. LINK

The Washington Post's Scott Wilson: " Obama and Netanyahu show unusual solidarity" President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed an unusual degree of solidarity Wednesday on a set of shared national security concerns that have divided them in the past, signaling either a turn in their vital, if volatile, relationship or a cool tactical display of diplomatic theater. The leaders' joint appearance concluded a tone-setting first day of Obama's first presidential trip to Israel, a visit celebrated with military ceremony, children's serenades and a rare personal chemistry with a hard-line Israeli leader with whom Obama has often bickered publicly. LINK

ECONOMY USA Today's Susan Davis: " Senate Approves Funding Bill To Avoid Shutdown" The U.S. Senate approved a $984 billion spending bill Wednesday, ensuring the federal government will not shut down next week but also cementing in place $1.2 trillion in unpopular across-the-board spending cuts affecting most reaches of the federal government. LINK

The Hill's Ramsey Cox and Erik Wasson: " Senate avoids shutdown, looks to wrap up budget soon" The Senate on Wednesday approved legislation to prevent a government shutdown and set up a series of votes on what would be the first Senate Democratic budget in four years. In a 73-26 vote, the Senate approved a $984 billion continuing resolution that will keep the government funded through the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30. Twenty-five Republicans voted against the measure, along with Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.). LINK

The Washington Times' Stephen Dinan and Seth McLaughlin: " Senate votes to keep White House closed, slaughterhouses open"Senators voted Wednesday to make the first significant changes to the budget sequesters, shifting money to keep slaughterhouse inspectors on the job full time but refusing to rearrange money to reopen the White House for public tours. The votes came as the Senate debated and passed a bill to fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year - sending it back to the House for final expected approval later this week and averting a government shutdown. Read more: LINK

The Los Angeles Times' E. Scott Reckard: " Audit faults Freddie Mac's oversight of mortgage servicers" At least eight big providers of mortgage customer service have failed to properly track and resolve serious complaints about servicing fraud, according to an audit of Freddie Mac, the home finance giant that has been propped up by the government since the financial crisis.Freddie Mac needs to enhance its oversight of the servicers by testing their performance and establishing fines for noncompliance, the audit says. LINK

Politico's Jonathan Allen: " Conservative House budget fails" House Republican leaders beat back conservatives' effort to substitute more drastic spending cuts than those contained in Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's fiscal blueprint, as Democrats forced the issue by voting present on the floor. The Republican Study Committee budget would slash domestic accounts much faster than Ryan's plan and freeze Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program funding at fiscal 2012 levels. LINK

Bloomberg's Brian Faler: " Senate Passes Legislation to Avoid U.S. Government Shutdown" Congress is set to clear a measure to avoid a partial U.S. government shutdown, in a rare example of bipartisan and bicameral cooperation on federal spending. The Senate voted 73-26 yesterday to forward to the House legislation that would keep agencies' lights on through Sept. 30, the end of the 2013 fiscal year. LINK

SYRIA The New York Times' Mark Landler and Rick Gladstone: " Chemicals Would Be 'Game Changer' in Syria, Obama Says" Showing solidarity with Israel's growing concern about chemical weapons in neighboring Syria, President Obama stated bluntly on Wednesday that if an investigation he had ordered found proof that the Syrian military had used such weapons it would be a "game changer" in American involvement in the civil war there. LINK

GUN CONTROL The New York Daily News' Daniel Beekman, Larry McShane and Dan Friedman: " Show some guts: As fury mounts over the decision to strip the assault weapons ban from gun control legislation, top Democrats say Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid merely bowed to political reality" The only thing politicians could offer the dead in Newtown, the anguished survivors and the rest of the country longing for a change is this lame excuse: Because of politics, we can't pass an assault weapons ban.Amid outrage from Connecticut to Colorado, Senate leaders circled the wagons Wednesday around Majority Leader Harry Reid, insisting he was simply responding to political reality when he announced Tuesday that he would allow the ban to die. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO " Gerard Butler And Aaron Eckhart Bring Action To DC In Olympus Has Fallen" LINK " Study Reveals 1 in 50 Schoolchildren Have Autism" LINK " President Obama Makes 1 st Presidential Trip To Israel" LINK " President Obama, Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu Hold Press Conference" LINK

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