The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson—Getty Images
By Zeke J Miller
May 21, 2015

Good Thursday morning from Washington. Fox and CNN have set the criteria for the first Republican presidential debates, causing heartburn for candidates polling within the margin of error of zero. Sen. Rand Paul spoke for 10.5 hours on the Senate floor, while his campaign tried to build momentum online. And Pope Francis is coming to Washington in four months and that has Democrats celebrating and many Republicans nervous, or worse. Here are your must reads:

Must Reads

Good Thursday morning from Washington. Fox and CNN have set the criteria for the first Republican presidential debates, causing heartburn for candidates polling within the margin of error of zero. Sen. Rand Paul spoke for 10.5 hours on the Senate floor, while his campaign tried to build momentum online. And Pope Francis is coming to Washington in four months and that has Democrats celebrating and many Republicans nervous, or worse. Here are your must reads:

Sound Off

Why This Red State is Poised to End the Death Penalty
It would be the first to do so since 1973, TIME’s Alex Altman explains

Pope Francis Goes to Washington
TIME’s Elizabeth Dias on the politics of the pontiff’s upcoming U.S. visit

Rand Paul Bets the Campaign on ‘Filibuster’
The 10-hour show was accompanied by a major organizing and fundraising push from his presidential campaign (Politico)

Super PAC Backing Hillary Clinton is Struggling to Raise Money
The candidate has promised to fight against unlimited money in politics, but she needs it too (Wall Street Journal)

The Clintons And the Ponzi Schemers
Questionable associations highlight Clinton access woes (BuzzFeed)

Fox News Just Made the Republican Primary More Exciting
Limiting the field to 10 candidates will narrow the field (Politico)

NSA May Need to Begin Winding Down Surveillance Program
A controversial spying program is likely to lose its congressional authorization (Washington Post)

Bits and Bites

“I’m not going to be in a witness protection program. I’m a Bush. I’m proud of it.” — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on not fleeing from his liability of a last name

“I’m reminded of the movie The Blues Brothers: ‘Jake, we’ve got to get the band back together again.’” — Sen. Ted Cruz loosely quoting the comedy classic as he backs up 2016 rival Rand Paul’s really long speech

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