The Note's Must-Reads for Friday September 13, 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, Jayce Henderson, Will Cantine and Amanda VanAllen

SYRIA ABC News' Anthony Castellano: " Vladimir Putin Pens Op-Ed to Say Strike on Syria Would 'Unleash a New Wave of Terrorism" Russian President Vladimir Putin has written a New York Times op-ed "to speak directly to the American people," warning that a U.S. military strike on Syria would "unleash a new wave of terrorism." In the op-ed posted Wednesday on the Times' website titled "A Plea for Caution From Russia," Putin said there's no doubt poison gas was used in Syria, but it could have been used by opposition forces to provoke intervention from other countries. LINK

USA Today's Susan Page: " Senate Foreign Relations chair skeptical of Putin Plan" Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez said he hopes diplomacy succeeds in settling the confrontation with Syria over the regime's use of chemical weapons, but he has doubts that it will. "I'm skeptical," the New Jersey Democrat said Thursday in an interview with USA TODAY's "Capital Download" newsmaker series."I'm skeptical of an (Syrian President Bashar) Assad who until just a few days ago said he never even had chemical weapons. I'm skeptical of a (Russian President Vladimir) Putin who has vetoed every effort at the Security Council to try to get a peaceful resolution. I'm skeptical of whether Putin is willing to submit this whole effort to a Security Council resolution and what enforcement mechanism is there going to be. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Jay Solomon: " Disarmament Talks Begin on Shaky Ground" The U.S. and Russia began efforts to dismantle Syria's chemical arms network, building on an uncertain pledge by President Bashar al-Assad to join the international treaty banning the use and production of such weapons. But Moscow's ability to control Mr. Assad as the disarmament process moves forward emerged as a major issue Thursday, after the Syrian leader said he would hold up plans to surrender his chemical weapons unless the Obama administration stopped threatening to use military force if Damascus didn't comply. LINK

Bloomberg's Julie Hirschfeld: " Hoyer Says Obama Could Strike Syria Without Congress Vote" The second-ranking House Democrat said President Barack Obama has the authority to use military force against Syria without returning to the U.S. Congress for approval should diplomacy fail to compel the Syrian government to surrender its chemical weapons arsenal. Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said neither he nor House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, "believe the president is required to come to Congress in this instance, and could act on his own." LINK

BUDGET BATTLE The New York Times' Jonathan Weisman: " Boehner Seeking Democrats' Help On Fiscal Talks" With Congress momentarily freed from the Syrian crisis, lawmakers plunged back into their bitter fiscal standoff on Thursday as Speaker John A. Boehner appealed to the Obama administration and Democratic leaders to help him resolve divisions in the Republican ranks that could lead to a government shutdown by month's end. In meetings with Democratic and Republican Congressional leaders on Thursday after a session with Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew on Wednesday, Mr. Boehner sought a resumption of negotiations that could keep the government running and yield a deficit-reduction deal that would persuade recalcitrant conservatives to raise the government's borrowing limit. LINK

HEALTH CARE Politico's Jonathan Allen: " White House Determined Not To Give Ground On Obamacare" Don't blink first. That's the strategy President Barack Obama and Capitol Hill Democrats are pursuing as the nation faces a government shutdown, a historic default on its debt and the final phase of Obamacare. Obama's domestic agenda - headed up by infrastructure spending, gun control and immigration reform - has long since stalled. Now, with the basic functions of government on the line again, he's defining his goal as not giving any more ground to House Republicans - no budget cuts and no concessions on the Affordable Care Act or the debt limit. LINK

The Washington Post's Paul Kane and Ed O'Keefe: " Democrats Reject GOP Efforts To Delay Funding For Obamacare" Congressional Democrats rejected GOP efforts Thursday to delay or curtail funding for President Obama's health-care initiative, saying the strategy to block implementation of the law would lead to a government shutdown or a default. Republicans have rallied to the idea of delaying the implementation of the Affordable Care Act as their main point of leverage. Some conservative groups have been pushing the idea of using government-funding legislation as a vehicle to strip away money for implementing the health-care law. But GOP leaders have tried to talk rank-and-file members out of that approach and instead have been pushing the idea of delaying some major pieces of the legislation. LINK

BIDEN The Hill's Jonathan Easley: " Biden calls House GOP 'Neanderthals'" Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday called House Republicans "Neanderthals" for initially opposing the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)." "I'm going to say something outrageous," Biden said at a party at his home in Washington to celebrate the 19th anniversary of VAWA, according to a media pool report. LINK

MICHELLE OBAMA The Washington Times' Ben Wolfgang: " First lady: Water increases energy" The nation's most prominent anti-obesity crusader, first lady Michelle Obama, has turned her attention to beverages and is encouraging Americans to drink more water. Mrs. Obama's "Drink Up" campaign was unveiled Thursday at an event in Watertown, Wis. - a town where, ironically, the soda industry is a key cog in the economy. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS " John Kerry Meeting with Russian Foreign Minister" LINK

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