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

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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Vice President Joe Biden delivered an emotional speech to law enforcement officials about the need for gun control Tuesday at the White House, the latest front in the Obama administration's all-out push to build support for the effort.

As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) scheduled a preliminary vote on gun control legislation for Thursday, the vice president stood before cameras and told stories about Americans he's spoken with who are desperate to see congressional action. It was an attempt to tap into the emotional core of the gun control debate, and it came after the White House flew families of victims of the Newtown, Conn., massacre to Washington to lobby for tougher laws.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) accused the "political left" of bugging his campaign headquarters after a secret tape emerged of a strategy session regarding Ashley Judd's potential candidacy and her mental health.

"Well, as you know, last month my wife's ethnicity was attacked by a left-wing group in Kentucky and then apparently they also bugged my headquarters," McConnell said during his weekly press conference on Capitol Hill Tuesday afternoon. "So I think that pretty well sums up the way the political left is operating in Kentucky."

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told reporters Tuesday that he will file for cloture on the motion to proceed to gun legislation in the evening with a vote expected Thursday.

"We're going to vote Thursday," he said. "I'm going to file cloture on the bill tonight."

Democrats appear to have the votes to break a filibuster to begin debate , but it's unclear if they'll have 60 votes to end debate and ultimately proceed to an up-or-down vote.

"It'd be a real slap in the face to American people not to do something on background checks, on school safety, on federal trafficking," he said. "The American people deserve a vote."

Ohio Republicans in the state legislature intend to block Gov. John Kasich (R) from expanding Medicaid under Obamacare.

A key Republican-led House panel is set to nix $13 billion in federal funds budgeted to expand Medicaid to some 300,000 Ohioans, according to the Associated Press and Columbus Dispatch. The funds were included in Kasich's budget, but are expected to be removed in the spending plan to be unveiled by state Republicans on Tuesday.

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Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), who is up for reelection in 2014, kept his options open Tuesday to filibuster debate on gun control legislation, even as numerous Republicans said they'll vote to begin debate.

"I want to see what's before the Senate. I don't know what's in the bill," Baucus told reporters in the Capitol. "My primary focus is the people of Montana. They're my employers."

TPM pressed him on whether he'll vote for a motion to begin debate.

"That's to be determined," he said. "My primary emphasis is the people I work for, and that's Montanans."

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) won't filibuster a motion to proceed to debate gun legislation, making it likelier that Senate Democrats will have 60 votes to begin debate.

"Sure, I'll vote [to begin debate]," Coburn told TPM Tueday.

His spokesman John Hart added, "Eschewing this debate is a ‘stupid party’ strategy."