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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

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) applauded Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) Tuesday after he came out for normalizing the status of illegal immigrants in the United States.

"I think it's very helpful," Graham told reporters. "He represents the libertarian corner of the party and embracing a pathway to citizenship is a constructive step for the party as a whole."

"I think it helps to step out and say this is a practical solution to a hard problem."

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) responded Tuesday to Sen. Rand Paul's (R-KY) newfound support for comprehensive immgiration reform including normalizing the status of undocumented immigrants.

"I think it's fine," he said. "I don't know. It means that when every senator makes up their mind, I hope all 100 will support what we come up with."

"I just heard that he supports a path to citizenship. I've been busy. I don't analyze peoples' speeches," he said. "I think it's fine. I also think it's fine that the RNC yesterday came out for immigration reform as part of their agenda. ... Anybody who agrees with it, it's helpful."

McCain and Paul recently clashed over the issue of U.S. drone policy.

A proposal by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to ban certain assault weapons and high-capacity magazines will be excluded from a Democratic-led gun reforms package expected to reach a full Senate vote in the coming weeks, Feinstein's office tells TPM.

The decision by Democratic leaders, first reported by Politico, reflects that despite White House support, the assault weapons ban's climb to Senate passage may be too steep.

The bill passed the Judiciary Committee last week on a 10-8 party line vote.

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) is facing criticism for his new budget proposal from an unexpected source: conservative policy wonks.

Virtually all of them found something to like in his plan. But they voiced substantial critiques in three flavors: lament that the entitlement reforms don't go far enough, arguments that Obamacare repeal and a 10-year balanced budget are not feasible, and worries that the plan fails to broaden the GOP's reach among voters.

The criticisms reveal a divide between conservative thinkers, who are hungry for policy innovation in the Republican Party, and its top policy guru, who remains wedded to a set of ideas that served his party badly in the 2012 elections.

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Senior House Democrats took aim Tuesday at the hazy mathematical assumptions in Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget.

House Democratic Caucus Chair Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Vice Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) and Congressional Black Caucus Chair Marcia Fudge (D-OH) touted their alternative budgets in a morning press briefing and aggressively criticized Ryan over his GOP proposal.

"Earth to Chairman Ryan. Come in, Chairman Ryan. Come back to Earth," said Becerra. "Because people want to work. People want to make sure the earned benefits they paid for are there for them when they finally need them. ... Come back from space."

Fudge said that "if anyone can add or subtract, they can look at the Ryan budget and know that it doesn't add up. Mathematically it doesn't make any sense. ... The Ryan budget is based on a premise that is false from the beginning." She went after him for claiming he'll repeal the Affordable Care Act while assuming its higher taxes and Medicare cuts.

"Did Ryan indicate which planet they're on?" said Crowley.

The nine Supreme Court justices appeared narrowly divided along ideological lines in oral arguments Monday about whether states may require people to submit proof of citizenship in order to register to vote, as a 2004 Arizona law necessitates.

As is often the case, the most ambivalent was Justice Anthony Kennedy, who channeled the views of both sides during different parts of the argument.

At one point, Kennedy wrestled with whether Arizona's proof-of-citizenship requirement crosses a line. He asked the state's attorney general, who was defending the law, whether states may also require proof of one's address or date of birth when registering to vote. If so, he posited, then the federal requirement "is not worth very much."

At another point, he launched a defense of Arizona's actions in principle and took issue with some of the reasoning by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled against Arizona.

"The state has a very strong and vital interest in the integrity of its elections," Kennedy said, "even when those, and perhaps especially when those are elections of federal officials. And it seems to me the Ninth Circuit's new test did not give sufficient weight to that interest."

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Justices Antonin Scalia and Sonia Sotomayor clashed Monday during Supreme Court oral arguments about whether states may require residents to submit proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. The outcome of the case is uncertain as the justices appeared narrowly divided.

The case involves an Arizona law adopted in 2004 that requires proof of citizenship prior to registering to vote (Prop 200). Challengers argue that it should be struck down because it violates a 1993 federal law (the National Voter Registration Act) requiring states to accept a registration form that lets most voters register to vote when renewing their drivers licenses or applying for social services, simply by attesting under oath that they are citizens.

Much as they did weeks ago during arguments over the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act, the two justices on Monday each led the charge on opposite sides of the case -- Scalia for less federal involvement in states' ability to set their voting laws, and Sotomayor for broad national authority to protect citizens' right to vote.

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Voting rights advocates are sounding the warning sirens as the Supreme Court hears oral arguments Monday on a low-profile but important case on whether states may require people to submit proof of citizenship when registering to vote.

At issue is whether the Arizona law, known as Proposition 200, violates a federal law that requires states to let people register to vote while renewing drivers licenses or applying for social services. The form provided by the National Voter Registration Act requires people to attest that they are U.S. citizens, but not to provide documented proof, like the Arizona law does.

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House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) signaled Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press" that there is no acceptable ratio of spending cuts to new revenues because tax increases are unacceptable to Republicans, period.

"There are no new tax increases because you don't need it," he said.

His exchange with host David Gregory:

DAVID GREGORY:
Is there any ratio that you could accept?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY:
There are no new tax increases because you don't need it. If you look at this report--

DAVID GREGORY:
But you're never going to get entitlement reform--

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY:
You're going to get nothing.

DAVID GREGORY:
--without tax increases. Is that political reality?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY:
Why do you have to wait? Why do you have to wait? Why does the public have to have a bigger crisis? The longer we wait, the more we add to it. But there's only one person at this table who voted to raise Medicare; the Republicans did not. We're planning to save Medicare, not only for this generation but for the future.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said Sunday on CBS' "Face The Nation" that House Republicans will flesh out the tax proposals in his budget "this year."

"We are saying let's have revenue neutral tax reform. What does that mean? That means take the current amount of revenue that's coming from the tax code and replace it with a better tax code -- one that the Ways and Means Committee will write this year."

Ryan's budget calls for trillions of dollars in tax cuts and promises to make up for them by closing tax deductions and loopholes, although he hasn't specified any. His remarks suggest that his House colleagues will identify them this year.

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