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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

New polling data shows overwhelming support for weakening the filibuster in the Senate.

Thousands of voters in 10 red, blue and purple states expressed disappointment with gridlock in the Senate and signaled strong support for the key pieces of Democrats' proposal to change the rules to eliminate silent filibusters and instead require obstructing senators to occupy the floor and speak.

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) scolded Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in remarks to the press Wednesday for refusing to extend middle income tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year. Her message? Being speaker is hard, but figure it out for the good of the country.

"It's tough. But you have to do it," she told reporters in the Capitol on Wednesday. "Figure it out."

Her remarks echo earlier comments from Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and other Democrats who are publicly suggesting that Boehner is refusing to come to grips with the reality that the top tax rates will rise because he's worried it will imperil his speakership.

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Ten House Republicans have joined 110 Democrats in pushing Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to take up reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act with the expanded protections that he's been resisting.

In a letter Tuesday, via the Huffington Post, the 120 lawmakers urged Boehner and House leaders to "move quickly on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) by bringing a bill inclusive of protections for all victims of domestic violence, similar to that which has already passed the Senate, to the House floor for a vote during these final weeks of the 112th Congress."

The Democratic-led Senate and Republican-led House passed competing versions of the re-authorization earlier this year, and the current impasse remains over GOP leaders' unwillingness to accept provision covering Native Americans, which conservatives view as unconstitutional vis-à-vis tribal jurisdiction.

The 10 Republicans on the letter span the ideological spectrum: Reps. Ted Poe (TX), Judy Biggert (IL), Richard Hanna (NY), Joe Heck (NV), Chris Gibson (NY), Jon Runyon (NJ), Patrick Meehan (PA), Robert Dold (IL), Michael Fitzpatrick (PA) and David Reichert (WA).

The morning after proposals were exchanged, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) criticized President Obama's plan to resolve the fiscal cliff in a Wednesday press availability.

"As of today the president's plan to avert the fiscal cliff still does not meet the two standards that I laid out after the election," he said. "The plan does not fulfill his promise to bring a balanced approach to solving this problem -- it's mainly tax hikes. And his plan does not begin to solve our debt crisis -- it actually increases spending."

The Speaker accused Obama of seeking to "slow-walk" the discussions.

"The president and I had a deliberate call yesterday," he said, "and we spoke honestly and openly about the differences that we face. But the president's calling for $1.4 trillion worth of revenue. That cannot pass the House or the Senate."

"The president seems to be walking us ever so slowly towards the fiscal cliff," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA).

A coalition of liberal advocacy groups is mobilizing its members to whip Democratic senators against voting for any deficit-reduction deal that cuts safety-net benefits.

The groups divide the caucus up into three categories -- the "weak-kneed," who they fear may agree to benefit cuts; the "wavering," who have signaled discomfort with the idea but haven't committed; and the "champions" whose support they're confident of. Via petition, they are urging their supporters to call their senators and ask for and record their positions on benefit cuts, with the dual goals of pressuring Democrats to oppose reducing Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits and of providing their supporters continually updated information on where key members stand on the issue.

"Senators owe their constituents clarity about whether they'll stand up against any benefit cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security," said Victoria Kaplan at MoveOn.org Political Action, in a statement to TPM. "Our whip count seeks to shine a spotlight on whether Democratic Senators will fight for poor, middle class and working families, or if they will cave to Republican demands to favor millionaires and billionaires instead."

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Bipartisan negotiations to reach a filibuster reform consensus continued Tuesday, with some senators striking a more hopeful tone over the prospects for an agreement. But details on what such a plan would look like were nowhere to be found. TPM spoke with many senators and none were willing to discuss the substance of the talks.

"We've had some very productive conversations," said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), the No. 2 Republican, who is retiring.

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Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval said Nevada will accept the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, which many GOP governors have turned down.

He said in a statement via The Associated Press:

"Though I have never liked the Affordable Care Act because of the individual mandate it places on citizens, the increased burden on businesses and concerns about access to health care, the law has been upheld by the Supreme Court. As such, I am forced to accept it as today's reality and I have decided to expand Nevada's Medicaid coverage.

"My fiscal year 2014-2015 budget will provide 78,000 additional Nevadans with health insurance coverage through Medicaid, which is estimated to save the state general fund approximately $17 million dollars in mental health savings.  My executive budget will also help Nevada businesses cope with the burden placed on them by decreasing the modified business tax.  My decision to opt-in assists the neediest Nevadans and helps some avoid paying a health-care tax penalty.  As part of my proposal, I will also call upon the Legislature to pass Medicaid patient responsibility cost-sharing measures.

"I will commit to working with the Legislature if anything changes at the federal level. At any point during the Legislative session, if there is any sign of change at the state or federal level, it may alter my support for expansion."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Wednesday morning that she and other Democrats would "object" to raising the Medicare eligibility age in deficit reduction talks.

"Don't go there because it doesn't produce money," she said on "CBS This Morning." "Raising the retirement age does not get you that much money... so you're doing a bad thing when it comes to seniors and you're not achieving your goal" of lowering the deficit and improving the economy.

She said of potential reforms: "We're saying, 'does it work, is it fair or is it just a trophy for Republicans to take home?'"

"There's a recognition he may need our votes," Pelosi said of House Speaker John Boehner.

Speaking at Priceton University to promote his new book, Justice Antonin Scalia defended his previous controversial writings on gay rights, and explained to a gay student why he drew a legal analogy between laws banning sodomy to murder and bestiality.

"I don’t think it’s necessary, but I think it’s effective," Scalia said Monday, in response to a student's question, according to The Associated Press.

"It’s a form of argument that I thought you would have known, which is called the ‘reduction to the absurd,'" he said. "If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?’"

When the student continued to press him, the justice reportedly quipped, "I'm surprised you aren’t persuaded."

Next spring, the Court will take up cases on the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8.

The U.S. Treasury department announced Tuesday morning that it will sell its final 234,169,156 shares of AIG common stock at $32.50 apiece in an underwritten public offering.

The overall positive return to Treasury and the Federal Reserve over the bailout of AIG, the announcement said, would become $22.7 billion.

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