The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world. Click on the headlines for more.
CNN Security Clearance: Military to open combat jobs to women
The U.S. military is ending its policy of excluding women from combat and will open combat jobs and direct combat units to female troops, multiple officials told CNN on Wednesday. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will make the announcement Thursday and notify Congress of the planned change in policy, the officials said.
CNN: Five things we learned from the Benghazi hearings
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday took on Republican congressional critics of her department's handling of the deadly September terrorist attack in Libya. Conservative GOP members challenged Clinton on the lack of security at the diplomatic compound in Benghazi as well as the erroneous account that the attack grew spontaneously from a protest over an anti-Islam film produced in the United States. Here are five things we learned from the hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs committees.
CNNMoney: House passes bill to defuse debt ceiling
The House on Wednesday passed the "No Budget, No Pay Act," a Republican bill that would effectively defuse the debt ceiling threat for several months. The bill would let the Treasury Department borrow new money until mid-May. In exchange, the legislation would require lawmakers in both chambers of Congress to pass a budget resolution or have their pay withheld until they do.
CNN: John Kerry faces hearing for secretary of state post, armed with bipartisan support
Nine years after his presidential bid ended in defeat, John Kerry's political career might take a major turn Thursday during his hearing to become the next secretary of state. The longtime senator from Massachusetts could sail to an easy confirmation, as politicians from both parties expressed optimism he would win approval.
CNN: In ABC interview, Te'o admits, again, to lying about fake girlfriend
Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te'o has again admitted to lying, marking at least the second time he has acknowledged knowingly spreading falsities in the saga of his fake dead girlfriend. In an interview with ABC News' Katie Couric set to air Thursday evening, the Heisman Trophy runner-up says he fibbed to the media - albeit briefly - after learning that the death of supposed girlfriend Lennay Kekua was a hoax.
CNN: New Mexico teen accused of gunning down family 'lost sense of conscience'
The chilling acts the 15-year-old boy is accused of defy imagination: pumping his mother, brother and two younger sisters with bullets; gunning down his dad when he returned home; texting a picture of his lifeless mother to his 12-year-old girlfriend; plotting to kill strangers outside a supermarket. But, family members say, Nehemiah Griego is no monster. They can't fathom what could have gone so terribly wrong. "Whether it was a mental breakdown or some deeper undiagnosed psychological issue, we can't be sure yet," his uncle, former New Mexico state Sen. Eric Griego, said.
CNN: New Mexico governor takes aim at immigrant driver's licenses
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said Wednesday that she plans a new push to repeal the state law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. Martinez, who has tried to get the law repealed twice before, described it as dangerous in a post on her official Facebook page.
CNN: Indiana can't kick sex offenders off social media, court says
Indiana can't kick all registered sex offenders off instant messaging services, chat rooms or social networking sites like Facebook, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday. State courts can impose limits on social media as a condition of a sex offender's probation or parole, but a "blanket ban" on Internet use violates the First Amendment's guarantee of free expression, the judges found.
CNN: North Korea says new nuclear test will be part of fight against U.S.
North Korea said Thursday that it plans to carry out a new nuclear test and more long-range rocket launches, all of which it said are a part of a new phase of confrontation with the United States.
CNN: UK warned against 'cherry-picking' EU policy
European leaders have warned Britain against the dangers of cherry-picking European Union policy after David Cameron announced Britain would hold a referendum on its European Union membership if his Conservative Party is re-elected in 2015. Ahead of the British prime minister's speech, U.S. President Barack Obama had also advised Cameron that the United States valued Britain's membership of the European bloc.
CNN: A lot at stake for Jordan in an election of firsts
Jordanians completed voting Wednesday in a landmark election that one outside observer said was free of any violations, the state-run news agency Petra said. As their country undergoes political strains and electoral reforms, about 1.3 million Jordanians went to the polls, representing 56.6% of registered voters, said Independent Elections Commission spokesman Hussein Bani Hani.
CNN: Syrian refugees continue to flood Jordan amid warnings of crisis
As many as 20,000 Syrian refugees have flooded Jordan in just the last few days, the nation's foreign minister and refugee officials said Wednesday, straining resources amid warnings from international aid organizations to prepare for a prolonged humanitarian crisis.
CNNMoney: Raising the Medicare age could hurt young workers
Raising the Medicare eligibility age won't just affect older workers ... it could ripple all the way down the career ladder.If senior citizens can't sign up for Medicare until age 67, many will likely stay on the job longer so they can keep their health insurance. That means it could be tougher for mid-career workers to move up, which in turn could make it harder for younger workers to secure entry-level positions, economists say.
CNN: Global CEOs lack confidence in 2013
For the second year in a row, the confidence of global CEOs in their company's growth has fallen, according to the 16th Global CEO Survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the global auditing firm. Only 36% of CEOs surveyed around the world feel "very confident" headed into 2013. CEO confidence has been steadily eroding the past two years; in 2011, 48% of CEOs surveyed were very confident, sliding to 40% last year.
CNN: Japan reveals record 2012 trade deficit
Japan's annual trade deficit rose to a record $78 billion in 2012, according to official data from the Ministry of Finance. Japan, a nation whose export-driven wealth has traditionally been built on trade surpluses, had a second straight year of trade deficits thanks to a persistently high yen, trouble with trading partner China and weakening demand in the eurozone.
In case you missed it…
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fires back at Sen. Ron Johnson for claiming the Senate was misled about Benghazi.