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.
First on CNN: Attracting minority voters a key GOP goal as Obama begins second term
Days after President Barack Obama is sworn-in for a second term, Republican leaders from across the country will assemble in the southern city where Obama accepted his party’s presidential nomination in September to strategize a path forward for the GOP in a nation experiencing major demographic shifts.
CNN: House GOP discussing short-term increase in debt ceiling
House Republican leaders are talking to rank and file GOP members about passing a short-term extension of the debt ceiling, perhaps one that just authorized the nation's borrowing authority for a couple of months. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, told reporters it was one option in a morning discussion with all House Republicans about legislative strategy for the first few months of the new Congress.
CNN: Obama-backed gun bills considered a long shot in Congress
Despite supporters' hopes that this time it's different, President Barack Obama's new call for restricting some semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines will face deeply entrenched resistance in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and could be a long shot even in the Democratic-led Senate.
CNN: Obama expected to name McDonough next chief of staff
President Barack Obama is expected to name Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough as the next White House chief of staff, several sources familiar with the matter told CNN. McDonough would replace Jack Lew, who has been nominated for secretary of the Treasury Department.
CNN: Details emerge on gun control proposal coming Wednesday
President Barack Obama will unveil Wednesday a package of gun control proposals that, according to a source, will include universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will announce the proposals, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Tuesday.
CNN: House passes $50 billion-plus Sandy aid package
Lawmakers in the House of Representatives approved measures Tuesday to send more than $50 billion in aid to the Northeastern states ravaged by Superstorm Sandy last fall, though some conservatives in the House were pushing for spending cuts that would offset the cost of the recovery package.
CNNMoney: Obama administration: Debt ceiling deadline coming soon
The Obama administration on Monday turned up the heat on Congress to raise the debt ceiling. The Treasury Department, hours after President Obama again said he would not negotiate with Congress over the issue, said it will run out of ways to keep the country under the legal borrowing limit sometime between mid-February and early March.
CNN: Clinton to testify before House committee January 23
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify on January 23 before the House Foreign Affairs Committee about the U.S. Consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya, the office of Chairman Ed Royce announced Monday. Four State Department officials were disciplined last month after an independent review of the September 11, 2012, consulate attack revealed "systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies" at the State Department. The violence left four Americans dead, including the U.S. ambassador.
CNN: Countdown to new wave in gun violence battle
When a set of recommendations to reduce gun violence hits President Barack Obama's desk on Tuesday, it will trigger a new stage in a decisive political battle consuming Washington. And it will show just how much America may have changed in the wake of last month's massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.
CNN: 'I'm still a Republican,' Powell says
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday he's still a member of the Republican Party, despite voting for President Barack Obama in the last two elections and being very critical of the GOP of late. "I think the Republican Party right now is having an identity problem – and I'm still a Republican," Powell said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "But in recent years there's been a significant shift to the right, and we've seen what that shift has produced: two losing presidential campaigns."
CNN: National Rifle Association gearing up for a fight
The National Rifle Association is gearing up to face one of the strongest challenges to its cause in many years: recommendations from an Obama administration working group on gun violence that are expected to address assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips.
CNN Security Clearance: Panetta orders defense cuts before Congress does
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has ordered the military to begin implementing cost-cutting measures aimed at mitigating the risk of significant budget cuts should Congress fail to reach a deal in coming months to avert or soften them.
CNN: Biden's gun panel meets with faith leaders
Vice President Joe Biden and officials on his gun violence committee held an unannounced meeting Wednesday evening with a group of 12 national faith leaders. One theme brought up by several participants was the "moral tragedy" reflected in the gun violence the nation has seen over the past several months.
CNN Security Clearance: Hagel trying to set record straight
On his second day at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel is trying to set his Iran record straight, saying he supports tough international sanctions against the country in an attempt to counter complaints by critics who say he favored talking directly with the government in Tehran, according to Defense officials with direct knowledge of the nominee’s conversations Wednesday.
CNN Security Clearance: Pentagon readies Hagel for confirmation fight
Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel wasted no time in starting formal preparations for what is expected to be a bruising Senate confirmation fight. One day after his nomination by President Barack Obama, the former Nebraska senator spent Tuesday at the Pentagon meeting key officials and settling in.
CNN: Connecticut senator wants background checks for ammunition buyers
In the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting, one of the state's senators announced Tuesday he will introduce legislation requiring background checks to buy ammunition.
CNN National Security: With Afghan president's visit, nations' post-2014 future takes shape
The Obama administration's plan to solidify the number of U.S. troops that will be left in Afghanistan after the NATO-led operations end in 2014 should come into greater focus this week as Afghan President Hamid Karzai visits Washington.
CNN: Preparing for a fight, pro-Hagel group forms, but stands down
Supporters of Chuck Hagel formed an organization to fight back against attacks directed at the former Republican senator, but for now have decided not to launch a political campaign style defense of the new Secretary of Defense nominee.
CNN: Hagel nomination planned for Monday
President Barack Obama plans to announce former Sen. Chuck Hagel as his nominee to become the next defense secretary on Monday, administration officials told CNN on Sunday. Two sources close to Hagel have also been told to expect the defense secretary announcement on Monday, and additional sources – a senior administration official and a source familiar with the nomination – said Obama spoke to Hagel Sunday by telephone.
CNN: Obama signs scaled-back Sandy aid bill
President Barack Obama signed into law Sunday a $9.7 billion Superstorm Sandy aid package following delays over fiscal cliff bickering, warnings of dwindling federal funds and swirling controversy over millions of dollars for unrelated projects.