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

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) once again used her perch on the Banking Committee on Thursday to publicly chastise federal regulators -- this time for allegedly protecting financial institutions against homeowners who have been victimized by them.

In just four months as a senator, the former Harvard law professor and consumer advocate has repeatedly seized opportunities to highlight questionable banking practices and ostensibly lax regulatory responses, in a chamber frequently criticized for its coziness with Wall Street.

In the latest instance, Warren accused two top regulators at a Banking subcommittee hearing of withholding information they said they possessed about improper foreclosures or other abusive financial practices from victims of those practices seeking recourse in court.

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The confirmation debate over President Obama's nominee to the country's second highest court, Sri Srinivasan, is escalating tensions over the Senate filibuster and causing Republicans to openly wonder if they should have invoked the "nuclear option" when they had the majority.

Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley's (R-IA) temper flared after Democrats threatened Wednesday to invoke the "nuclear option" and weaken the minority's filibuster powers if Republicans block the nomination of Srinivasan to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"You know what it reminds me of? It reminds me that we Republicans were stupid in 2005 when we didn't do the nuclear option when they were complaining that 'you shouldn't do that, you should never do it,'" Grassley told TPM after the hearing.

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Updated: 3:10 P.M. ET

The bipartisan Senate compromise on background checks appears to suffer from a crucial flaw that could reduce its effectiveness, experts and gun control advocates fear, although they broadly say it's an important step toward preventing criminals from obtaining guns.

The proposal unveiled Wednesday by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) would expand mandatory background checks to gun shows and Internet sales. But it would exempt criminal checks for private, non-commercial sales of firearms or transfers between friends or family members. The legislative language is not final yet but the senators have promised those exemptions to background checks for gun purchases.

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The Senate voted 68-31 on Thursday to send gun control legislation to the floor, passing a key test vote but setting up a much more painful battle toward final passage.

Sixteen Republicans joined all but two Democrats to back the procedural motion. Many of the GOP lawmakers who voted for the motion to proceed don't support the bill, and warned that they may not vote to allow a final up-or-down vote. But they decided not to eschew the debate.

"I welcome a debate on gun control and you should too," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

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The National Rifle Associated announced Wednesday night that it will grade lawmakers' votes on the final procedural motion and passage of the background checks compromise unveiled by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA), forcing senators to choose between supporting the proposal and protecting their NRA pro-gun credentials.

The organization, after initially offering a muted statement, said it opposes the bill. But it did not indicate that the votes would count toward the ratings that the organization releases during election season. An NRA spokesman did not respond to multiple queries in the afternoon about whether it would score lawmakers' votes.

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The National Rifle Association doesn't support a bipartisan Senate agreement unveiled Wednesday to expand background checks for some gun purchases. But so far, the powerful gun industry lobby also isn't committing to targeting lawmakers who vote for the proposal.

If that position holds, the NRA could tacitly give conservative senators in both parties the green light to help pass the compromise legislation through the Senate.

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President Obama praised the agreement struck Wednesday between Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) to expand mandatory background checks to gun shows and Internet sales.

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, he called on Congress to "finish the job."

I applaud Senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey for their leadership on forging a bipartisan agreement around commonsense background checks that will make it harder for dangerous people to get their hands on a gun.

This is not my bill, and there are aspects of the agreement that I might prefer to be stronger.  But the agreement does represent welcome and significant bipartisan progress. It recognizes that there are good people on both sides of this issue, and we don’t have to agree on everything to know that we’ve got to do something to stem the tide of gun violence.

Of course, a lot of work remains.  Congress needs to finish the job.  The Senate must overcome obstruction by defeating a threatened filibuster, and allow a vote on this and other commonsense reforms to protect our kids and our communities.  Any bill still has to clear the House.  So I’m going to keep asking the American people to stand up and raise their voices, because these measures deserve a vote – and so do the families and communities they’re designed to protect.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA), two senators with an A rating from the National Rifle Association, announced Wednesday that they have reached a bipartisan deal to expand background checks for gun purchases.

The measure is less restrictive than President Obama and Democrats hoped for. It would require criminal background checks for firearm purchases at gun shows and Internet sales, but would exempt non-commercial, private sales and transfers between friends and family members.

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) "remains committed" to filibustering gun control legislation after a bipartisan deal on background checks was announced Wednesday by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA), his office said.

"[T]he senator remains opposed to expanded background checks as they inevitably set a path to a national gun registry," Cruz's spokeswoman Catherine Frazier told TPM in an email. "He remains committed to his plan, along with Sens. Paul and Lee and 11 other senators, to prevent passage of legislation that will infringe on all law-abiding Americans' constitutional rights. Legislation addressing the issue of gun violence must focus on keeping guns out of criminals' hands."

The upcoming debate over confirmation of U.S. Principal Deputy Solicitor General Sri Srinivasan to the country's second highest court is seen by Democrats as a pivotal moment in the interconnected debates over gridlock of judicial nominations and Senate filibuster rules.

Srinivasan, President Obama's nominee to fill the seat vacated in 2005 by now-Chief Justice John Roberts on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, where Republicans intend to quiz him on his judicial temperament and views on the Constitution.

"We haven't had a new person on that court since 2006 or [200]7. Some say it's a court more important than the Supreme Court of the United States. [Republicans have] blocked ... new people coming on that court," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told reporters Tuesday. "We're going to have this young man -- we hope that that can be done very quickly."

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