Brian Beutler

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com

Articles by Brian

When the Senate passes its immigration reform bill this afternoon, Republicans will be left to carry the blame if they can't, or choose not, to move a comprehensive bill of their own with a pathway to citizenship through the House.

Given the immediacy of the situation, and every indication that they're going to drop the ball, what they need to do is figure out a way to avoid that blame, or even better to turn it back on Democrats. The problem for them is, see paragraph one. And paragraph one is leading them into amazing displays of public reasoning like this from deputy whip Pete Roskam.

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With the Senate poised to end debate on and pass its own comprehensive immigration reform bill, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) significantly narrowed the legislative path toward making it law.

At is weekly Capitol briefing Thursday, Boehner extended his requirement that immigration legislation enjoy the approval of at least half of his members to any final agreement between the House and the Senate, known as a conference report.

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By a vote of 68-32, the Senate has ended debate on its bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill. The vote fell two shy of the 70 its negotiators had hoped to achieve. The vote on final passage will occur later on Thursday. 

Meanwhile in the House, Speaker John Boehner has dramatically narrowed the path toward enacting a final bill. 

When the Supreme Court heard the oral arguments for and against the constitutionality of DOMA this March, Chief Justice John Roberts probably noticed a familiar face in the crowd -- his openly gay cousin, Jean Podrasky.

At the time, Podrasky found the arguments difficult to hear, and a little nerve-racking, no doubt in part because Podrasky was engaged to be married to her partner, and stuck in limbo until the Court issued its decision on California's Proposition 8.

Now that the ruling is in, Podrasky says that the magnitude of the ruling overwhelms whatever personal disagreements she has with her cousin, who signed on with the minority view that DOMA should be upheld.

"I am so excited. I am absolutely overwhelmed," Podrasky told me in a phone interview Wednesday.

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Prior to President Obama's speech on climate change Tuesday afternoon, the White House leaked stories that excited an influential subset of environmentalists who have been pushing the administration to kill the Keystone XL pipeline.

The reality of the speech was something different.

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Conservatives were elated -- and voting rights supporters crushed -- when the Supreme Court decided on Tuesday to nix the standards the federal government had been using to determine which states and local governments with histories of disenfranchising minority voters should be subject to the closer scrutiny of the Voting Rights Act.

The ruling at least temporarily guts a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, and provides conservative activists in mostly southern states a window of undetermined length to pass laws that hinder minority voting rights.

But it's ironically a nightmare for the two most powerful Republicans in the country, who are currently struggling with another issue -- immigration reform -- that's central to the party's minority outreach strategy.

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The only thing left standing in the way of Senate passage of immigration reform legislation is time.

On Monday, the Senate cleared a key test vote that all but guarantees the overall bill will pass later this week, leaving the fate of immigration reform in the hands of the House of Representatives.

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Now that the Senate's immigration bill is on a glide path to passage, I want to take a minute to draw out the connection I drew between House Republicans' inability to pass a farm bill and immigration reform in greater detail. And I think the best place to start is with a mild disagreement between Chuck Schumer and the duo of Harry Reid and Dick Durbin over whether it was worthwhile to concede enough to the GOP to garner 70-ish votes for the Senate bill.

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The development has been widely expected ever since Snowden revealed his identity by video nearly two weeks ago. 

Filing a criminal complaint is also the first step in the process the government would undertake to have Snowden extradited from Hong Kong, where he is believed to be hiding.

In an interview with Charlie Rose this week, President Obama hinted at that outcome.

“The case has been referred to the DOJ for criminal investigation … and possible extradition," he said. "I will leave it up to them to answer those questions.”

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