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

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) said Thursday he voted against the Paul Ryan budget "because it left the enormous Obamacare taxes in place."

Gingrey, the chairman of the GOP Doctors Caucus and a leading health care voice in the conference, was a single-issue voter Thursday, just ahead of the third anniversary of the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. He also voted against the stopgap measure to fund the government, lamenting that it continues to fund the health care reform law.

"Obamacare is bad fiscal policy, a nightmare for patients, and a drag on the economy," Gingrey said in a statement to TPM. "Based on this grim reality, I have opposed the continuing resolution because it does not defund Obamacare and -- consistent with this position -- I voted against the Ryan budget because it left the enormous Obamacare taxes in place."

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The House on Thursday passed a bipartisan measure to continue funding the government through September, averting a shutdown one week before the lights would go out.

The final vote was 318-109 -- 115 Democrats joined 203 Republicans to pass the bill.

The legislation, which passed the Senate by a vote of 73-26 on Wednesday, now goes to President Obama for his signature.

The continuing resolution sustains the lower spending levels under sequestration but provides flexibility to the Pentagon and a handful of domestic programs in an effort to avoid some of the worst impacts of the automatic, indiscriminate spending cuts. It was the product of bipartisan negotiations to address the top priorities of each party.

The passage of the bill, a full week before the deadline, reflects a desire among both sides to avoid a government shutdown. Republicans demanded spending limits but refraining from pushing poison-pill amendments that have previously threatened shutdowns.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) praised House passage of the Paul Ryan budget in a statement Thursday.

“Our goal is to cut spending and balance the budget to help our economy grow. Passing this measure allows us to keep our focus where it belongs: replacing the president’s sequester with smarter cuts that help balance the budget, fixing our broken tax code to create jobs and increase wages, protecting priorities like Medicare, and expanding opportunity for all Americans.”

Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray (D-WA), the author of the Democrats' budget on the Senate floor, issued a swift and critical statement upon House passage of the Paul Ryan budget Thursday morning.

“I am disappointed that instead of moving toward compromise and a truly balanced approach to tackling our economic and fiscal challenges, House Republicans decided to double down on the failed policies that the American people rejected just a few months ago. The pro-growth budget being debated in the Senate today offers a responsible path toward a balanced and bipartisan budget deal, and I am hopeful that Republicans will now be ready to join us at the table so we can come to an agreement that works for middle class families and the economy.”

Republican leaders may have placated their conservative members long enough to have prevented a catastrophic credit default this winter. But it's far from clear they'll be able to repeat that feat when the country's borrowing authority expires again this summer.

During a discussion with reporters Wednesday, a panel of 10 House conservatives openly craved another debt ceiling standoff with President Obama, urging GOP leaders to follow up on the chamber's expected passage of the Paul Ryan budget by using the debt limit as leverage to achieve their ideological goals. Among the potential demands they mentioned were dollar for dollar cuts, rolling back Obamacare and major entitlement reforms.

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A panel of the House's most conservative Republicans signaled broad support for Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget before it comes up for a vote Thursday -- a positive omen for GOP leadership, which has a diminished majority of 232-200 and little room for error.

The panelists at the Capitol Hill event Wednesday hosted by the Heritage Foundation were arch-conservative Republican Reps. Tim Huelskamp (KS), Raúl Labrador (ID), Jim Jordan (OH), Jeff Duncan (SC), Mick Mulvaney (SC), David Schweikert (AZ), Thomas Massie (KY), Mark Meadows (NC), Trey Radel (FL) and Steve Scalise (LA).

Of the 10 lawmakers, just one of them -- Massie -- expressed opposition when a reporter asked how they intend to vote on Ryan's plan.

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Updated: 2:20 P.M. ET

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is threatening to revisit the Senate rules amid the latest Republican filibuster -- his second such threat this month.

While the Senate waits to wrap up passage of a stopgap bill to fund the government, Democratic leaders want to begin debate on the budget resolution. But Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) is blocking that unless Reid agrees to vote on his sequester amendment, which Reid won't do because Democratic leaders don't want to replace the automatic cuts in patchwork measures. So they'll have to wait out the delays and finish the stopgap bill before moving on to the budget.

"It is things like that that will cause the Senate to have to reassess all the rules because right now they accomplish so little," Reid said late Tuesday on the Senate floor. "I'm disappointed."

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Freshman Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) told a roomful of reporters Wednesday that the upcoming House vote on the Paul Ryan budget is all for show, with no real consequences, because the proposal is "dead on arrival" in the Senate.

"You know, I'm new here but what I'm learning is that the budget is just kind of a guideline," Massie said on a panel with nine other House conservatives. "And it's sort of a pretend guideline because we know it's dead on arrival in the Senate. So it's all about optics and messaging."

The Kentuckian said he intends to vote No on the Ryan plan because it doesn't cut spending enough, although other conservatives appear ready to vote Yes.

"We know it's dead on arrival," Massie said. "We know it's a pretend vote."

Senate Republicans aren't so eager to vote on the Paul Ryan budget.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the top Republican on the Budget Committee, told a handful of reporters Tuesday that Republicans may not offer the Ryan plan as an amendment when Democrats bring up their budget resolution for a vote later this week.

"I wouldn't be surprised if Ryan's budget doesn't come up one way or the other in this process," Sessions said on the same afternoon that his caucus met with Ryan on the budget. He praised the House budget chief's work as "honest" and "wonderful" but said Senate Republicans "might have different views" on how to move forward.

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The assault weapons ban is all but dead, and mandatory background checks are touch and go. Three months after the Newtown shooting, prospects of Congress passing a broad gun control package have dimmed considerably.

Tuesday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told reporters he hopes to move gun legislation to a vote "as soon after Easter" as he can, with the aim of pursuing mandatory background checks as well as reforms to laws involving gun trafficking, access to mental health and safety in schools.

"We cannot have votes on everything unless I get something on the floor. It's a legislative impossibility," he said. "I'm not going to try to put something on the floor that won't succeed; I want something that will succeed. I think the worst of all worlds would be to bring something to the floor and it dies there."

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