Sahil Kapur

Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.

Articles by Sahil

The Senate reached a bipartisan deal on Thursday to revive emergency jobless benefits for five months and permits retroactive payments to those who lost it on Dec. 28, according to top aides familiar with the agreement.

It's paid for with a policy known as "pension smoothing" (which both parties have supported in the past but critics have bashed as a budgetary sleight of hand), an extension of custom user fees through 2024 and a provision that lets single-employer pension plans prepay their premiums.

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) upped the ante on Thursday, calling Republicans "callous and immoral" for refusing to bring up an extension of emergency jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

"More than two million Americans lost their lifeline of emergency unemployment insurance thanks to Republicans' callous and immoral refusal to act," she told reporters. "I think that we shouldn't mince our words here."

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Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said the speech by Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) alleging CIA law-breaking and misconduct was the most important he had heard on the Senate floor in the 40 years he has served.

"I've had the privilege of serving in this body, now my 40th year," Leahy, the longest-serving incumbent senator, said after her Tuesday speech. "I've heard thousands of speeches on this floor. I cannot think of any speech by any member of either party as important as the one the Senator from California just gave. What she is saying is, if we're going to protect the separation of powers and the concept of congressional oversight, then she has taken the right steps to do that."

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House Republicans expect to vote this Friday on legislation that would risk steep, destabilizing Medicare cuts at the end of the month unless Democrats agree to a five-year delay of Obamacare's individual mandate.

It mirrors some of the brinkmanship in the government shutdown fight last fall in that the GOP is using a must-pass bill as a vehicle to chop the Affordable Care Act. Democratic leaders have repeatedly rejected proposals to tinker with the mandate to buy insurance and have warned Republicans not to tie a physician payment fix to their partisan quest to unravel Obamacare.

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House GOP legislation to delay Obamacare's individual mandate by five years would cause a spike in health insurance premiums and 13 million fewer Americans insured, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The bill is set to come up for a vote on Friday, a Republican leadership aide said.

The delay of the mandate until 2019 would save $170 billion and use the money to fund a $138 billion "doc fix" that avoids the prospect of large physician payment cuts set to take effect on April 1, the budget office said.

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