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

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) swiftly responded to President Obama's Tuesday speech about avoiding the sequester by affirming that tax loopholes are off the table to raise new revenues. He said they must only be used to lower tax rates.

“Today the president advanced an argument Republicans have been making for a year: his sequester is the wrong way to cut spending. That’s why the House has twice passed legislation to replace it with common sense cuts and reforms that won’t threaten public safety, national security, or our economy. But once again, the president offered no credible plan that can pass Congress – only more calls for higher taxes. Just last month, the president got his higher taxes on the wealthy, and he’s already back for more. The American people understand that the revenue debate is now closed. We should close loopholes and carve-outs in the tax code, but that revenue should be used to lower rates across the board. Tax reform is a once-in-a generation opportunity to boost job creation in America.  It should not be squandered to enable more Washington spending. Spending is the problem, spending must be the focus.

“Washington Democrats’ newfound concern about the president’s sequester is appreciated, but words alone won’t avert it. Replacing the president’s sequester will require a plan to cut spending that will put us on the path to a budget that is balanced in 10 years.  To keep these first responders on the job, what other spending is the president willing to cut?”

On ABC's "This Week" Sunday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was asked why he praised the August 2011 law that contained the sequester and the spending cuts it entailed.

His exchange with host Jonathan Karl:

KARL:  But Congressman, I've heard you say this and a talking point for Republicans for a long time.  This was the president's idea on and on and on, but let's look at your own words.  What you said right after the law putting this in place was passed in August of 2011.  These are your words.  You said "what conservatives like me have been fighting for, for years are statutory caps on spending, literally legal caps in law that says government agencies cannot spend over a set amount of money and if they  breach that amount across the board sequester comes in to cut that spending.  You can't turn it out without a supermajority.  We got that into law."

Now it sounds to me there like if you weren't taking credit for the idea of the sequester, you  were certainly suggesting it was a good idea.

RYAN:  So those are the budget caps on discretionary spending.  Those occurred.  We want those.  Everybody wants budget caps.  The sequester we're talking about now was backing up the super committee.  Remember the super committee in addition to those caps was supposed to come up with $1.2 trillion in savings.  The Republicans on the super committee offered even higher revenues in exchange for spending cuts as part of that.  It was rejected by the president and the Democrats.  So no resolution occurred and therefore the sequester is occurring.  And what we've always said is let's cut spending in smarter ways to replace this sequester.  We passed two bills doing that and we've heard  nothing in response from the Senate Democrats or the president.

A copy of the White House's draft immigration proposal, leaked as a warning shot to Congress to get its act together, was swiftly and fiercely rejected by a Republican central to the negotiations. Other key Republicans echoed him. The White House responded on Sunday.

In a statement Saturday after President Obama's draft bill was leaked to USA Today, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) dubbed the proposal "half-baked and seriously flawed," saying it would exacerbate the country's immigration problems. He promised it would be "dead on arrival" in Congress.

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Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) demurred when asked Sunday on ABC's "This Week" if he intends to run for president in 2016.

He said he's "not foreclosing any opportunity" but he literally does not know the answer.

The point is this, I think the most important thing for me to do is do my job representing the first district of Wisconsin, trying to prevent a debt crisis, helping get a solution to the economy, to jobs, to getting our deficit and debt under control.

That it me is my first priority.  That's what I'm focused on.  Will I or won't I?  I don't know.  I literally do not know the answer to these questions about what is the best role for me to play to fix these problems for our country in the future.

The point is I don't know the answer because I'm just not putting a great deal of thought into it.

I'm not foreclosing any opportunity.  I may or I may not.  I just don't know because right now we just had an election.  We've got jobs to do.


Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) plans to vote against Chuck Hagel for the Pentagon's top job but he said Sunday that the former Republican senator will probably be confirmed.

"We will have a vote when we get back," McCain said on NBC's "Meet The Press." "And I'm confident that Senator Hagel will probably have the votes necessary to be confirmed as secretary of defense."

Asked if he plans to vote to confirm his old friend, McCain said, "No. I don't believe he is qualified. But I don't believe we should hold up his nomination any further."

Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-TX) said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" roundtable that Latinos care about the same range of issues as other Americans, but tend to use immigration "to sort out who the good guys and bad guys are in politics."

He said laws like Arizona's help clarify who's on their side and who isn't.

Newt Gingrich said on ABC's "This Week" roundtable that Mitt Romney's campaign was sunk by remarks calling for "self-deportation" of undocumented immigrants and potraying 47 percent of Americans as dependent on government.

"I that and the 47 percent comment were fatal," said Gingrich, who Romney defeated in the primary.

Appearing Sunday on ABC's "This Week," House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) said the leaked White House proposal for immigration reform harms efforts to resolve the problem.

"I did think that his words were measured and productive in the State of the Union. But putting this -- leaking this out does set things in the wrong direction," he said. "By putting these details out without a guest worker program, without addressing future flow, by giving advantage to those who cut in front of the line for immigrants who came here legally -- that tells us he's looking for a partisan advantage and not a bipartisan solution."

"There are groups in the House and the Senate working together to get this done, and when he does things like this, it makes it much more difficult to do that. And that's why I think this particular move -- very counterproductive."

Ryan continued: "I have a long record on immigration reform. I'm not a Johnny-come-lately on this issue."

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) said Sunday on CNN's "State the Union" that there are "much better ways" to enact sequestration cuts but that they will take effect without any new revenues.

"Let me be very clear," he said. "These spending cuts are going to go through on March 1. Taxes are off the table. ... The Republican Party is not in any way going to trade tax increases for spending cuts."

Appearing Sunday on CNN's State of the Union, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) said he plans to vote against Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense.

"I have grave reservations," he said. "I think he's been wrong about Iran, wrong about Israel, wrong about Iraq, wrong about nuclear weapons. Absolutely I plan to vote against him."