The Note's Must-Reads for Wednesday, December 11, 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

BUDGET DEAL ABC News' Jeff Zeleny and Arlette Saenz: " Congress Gets Job Done for Once and Strikes Budget Deal" A bipartisan budget agreement reached tonight by House and Senate negotiators would avoid a government shutdown in January and help break a fiscal stalemate that has caused gridlock in Washington. But it would stop far short of tackling the underlying causes of the national debt. LINK

USA Today's Susan Davis: " Leaders in Congress Unveil Two-Year Budget Deal" Budget negotiators announced Tuesday a bipartisan deal to set spending levels for the federal government for two years and partially replace unpopular spending cuts with other savings. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., led the negotiations that had intensified in recent days as a Dec. 13 deadline approaches. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Janet Hook: " Deal Brings Stability to U.S. Budget" House and Senate negotiators, in a rare bipartisan act, announced a budget agreement Tuesday designed to avert another economy-rattling government shutdown and to bring a dose of stability to Congress's fiscal policy-making over the next two years. Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), who struck the deal after weeks of private talks, said it would allow more spending for domestic and defense programs in the near term, while adopting deficit-reduction measures over a decade to offset the costs. LINK

The Hill's Russell Berman, Erik Wasson and Mike Lillis: " Budget deal is sealed" Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced a budget deal Tuesday evening that would call for about $1 trillion in federal spending in 2014 while replacing some sequestration cuts. The deal replaces $63 billion in sequester cuts over two years and trims an additional $23 billion in long-term deficits. The agreement falls far short of the grand budget bargain Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Obama once envisioned. But if passed, it will bring a measure of fiscal peace to the capital for the first time since Republicans took control of the House in 2010. LINK

The New York Times' Jonathan Weisman: " Capitol Leaders Agree to a Deal on the Budget" House and Senate budget negotiators reached agreement Tuesday on a budget deal that would raise military and domestic spending over the next two years, shifting the pain of across-the-board cuts to other programs over the coming decade and raising fees on airline tickets to pay for airport security. The deal, while modest in scope, amounts to a cease-fire in the budget wars that have debilitated Washington since 2011 and gives lawmakers breathing room to try to address the real drivers of federal spending - health care and entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security - and to reshape the tax code. LINK

NELSON MANDELA MEMORIAL The New York Daily News' Leslie Larson: " President Obama poses for a funeral selfie and gets chummy with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt but Michelle does not look impressed" President Obama was caught committing a funeral faux pas - snapping a selfie during Nelson Mandela's memorial service with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and British PM David Cameron. The threesome smiled as the Scandinavian beauty held her smartphone out to capture the moment but Michelle Obama sat at a distance, as if in disapproval of the digital display. LINK

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION The Los Angeles Times' Christi Parsons: " Key Clinton aide joins Obama's team of White House advisors" With his popularity flagging and his healthcare law at risk, President Obama has uncharacteristically reached outside his tightknit core of advisors to bring into the White House a veteran Democratic strategist who helped guide President Clinton through the darkest days of his presidency. The appointment of John Podesta, who was the White House chief of staff during the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the impeachment proceedings in Congress, is an acknowledgment by Obama of the extent of the problems that have dogged the first year of his second term. LINK

GOP The Washington Post's Paul Kane: " Tea party threat again hangs over Republicans' efforts to take Senate" More than half of Senate Republicans facing reelection next year face potentially viable tea party challenges - a historically large threat to the GOP establishment that could, once again, kill the party's chances of taking back control of the chamber. A surprise challenge to Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2 GOP leader, emerged at the last minute before Texas's election filing deadline late Monday, and on Tuesday a conservative group with deep pockets threw its financial support behind a radiologist, who has never run for office, in a primary against Sen. Pat Roberts (Kan.), a 16-year veteran. LINK

Politico's Manu Raju and John Bresnahan: " Tea partiers line up to tackle GOP senators" GOP senators have aggressively tried to keep their conservative base at bay to ensure there's virtually no space on their right for a primary foe to emerge. That didn't work so well. LINK

HEALTH CARE Bloomberg's Kathleen Miller and Alex Wayne: " Hidden Obamacare Website Costs Show Lack of Transparency" President Barack Obama's health agency said it has spent $319 million building an online health-insurance marketplace through October. More than three years after the passage of Obama's signature health-care law in 2010, it's almost impossible to verify and track that spending through public records. LINK

VISAS The Washington Times' John Solomon and David Sherfinski: " Harry Reid's visa pressure cooker" The Obama administration overruled career Homeland Security officials and expedited visa applications for about two dozen foreign investors for a politically connected Las Vegas casino hotel after repeated pressure from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his staff, according to internal government documents obtained by The Washington Times. The move to overturn what is normally a non-appealable visa decision came despite concerns about "suspicious financial activity" involving some of the visa applicants from Asia, and it ultimately benefited several companies whose executives have donated heavily in recent years to Democrats, the documents show. It also ensnared Mr. Obama's current nominee to be the No. 2 Homeland Security official, Alejandro "Ali" Mayorkas, whose appointment is to be reviewed by the Senate on Wednesday. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO " Obama at Mandela Memorial: 'His Triumph Was Your Triumph'" LINK

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