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. John McCain (R-AZ) responded Tuesday afternoon to conservatives' concerns that comprehensive immigration reform could make millions of newly legal residents eligible for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act and balloon its cost.

"I know that the most expensive part of health care in America today is emergency room care," McCain said in the Capitol, in response to a question from TPM. "The fewer people that have to go to the emergency and can get regular care, the less the cost is. That is a proven fact."

In other words, McCain suggested that providing insurance to currently uninsured individuals will save the government money by forcing them to buy into the system and minimize their need to resort to emergency room care.

Justice Antonin Scalia said Monday evening that the Constitution is not a living document, according to the Dallas Morning News.

“It’s not a living document. It's dead, dead, dead," Scalia said during a guest lecture at Southern Methodist University, while promoting his new book, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Text.

The Reagan-appointed jurist, who shared the stage with his co-author Bryan Garner, argued that good jurisprudence is about sidelining one's personal beliefs.

"The judge who always likes the results he reaches is a bad judge," Scalia said.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) announced in a statement Tuesday that has signed on as a cosponsor to the Violence Against Women Act re-authorization, which is on deck for a floor vote by early next week.

He took a direct shot at House Republicans, who have resisted expanding coverage to domestic abuse victims who are gay, illegal immigrants and Native Americans.

"The Violence Against Women Act is a critical bill that helps ensure support services are in place so that victims of domestic violence can protect themselves and their families. Last year, women were used as political pawns by House Republicans, and we can't let that happen again. The Senate should vote again to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act without delay and send a strong, unified message that this country does not tolerate brutality against anyone."

The Senate is fast-tracking its reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act to a floor vote expected by next week, two Democratic aides tell TPM.

But House Republican leaders remain silent on how they intend to proceed, which suggests that there has not been a breakthrough since last year, when the bill fell prey to the House GOP's resistance to expand coverage to gays, illegal immigrants and Native Americans who have suffered domestic abuse.

A Democratic leadership aide said the legislation, re-introduced last week by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and a bipartisan group of senators, is on tap for a floor vote after the chamber finalizes the confirmation of John Kerry as secretary of state and approves a measure to extend the debt ceiling. The aide said that could happen late this week at the earliest, but more likely early next week.

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The Senate approved the remaining $50.5 billion in relief for Hurricane Sandy victims on Monday afternoon, closing the chapter on a measure that became mired in controversy earlier this month.

The legislation passed by a vote of 62-36, with Republicans broadly opposed.

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Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) reacted positively to the Senate's bipatisan immigration framework in a statement after it was unveiled Monday afternoon.

“It is encouraging to see President Obama, Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans commit to passing reforms that will create an orderly immigration process for those wishing to take part in the American Dream. For far too long, many in Washington have focused on the twenty percent where Democrats and Republicans disagree. We are making progress towards a proposal that focuses on the 80 percent where both sides of the aisle can come to an agreement.

“Since November, I have had several conversations with Senator Rubio, as well as discussions with Senator Graham, Senator Flake and Representative Raúl Labrador about my views on comprehensive immigration reform. This bipartisan group of Senators has provided a reasonable starting point for Republicans and Democrats to work together. I support many of the principles included in this plan, and look forward to reviewing specific details in the weeks and months ahead. As the President prepares to release his own ideas for immigration reform, it is my hope that he looks to this bipartisan proposal as a blueprint for his plans moving forward."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reacted to the bipartisan immigration framework unveiled Monday afternoon with cautious praise and a call for continued bipartisanship.

He said in an afternoon statement:

“Reforming our broken immigration system and securing our nation’s borders are crucial objectives that our nation needs to address and I appreciate the hard work that has gone into the framework announced today. When the President addresses this issue Tuesday, I hope he will take a bipartisan approach rather than delivering another divisive partisan speech.

“In order for any reform to be successful, congressional committees will have to review and write legislation through regular order, and all members must have an opportunity to debate and amend any legislation that comes to the floor. This effort is too important to be written in a back room and sent to the floor with a take-it-or-leave it approach. It needs to be done on a bipartisan basis and include ideas from both sides of the aisle.”

House Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) office reacted positively on Monday to the framework for immigration reform put forth by a bipartisan group of senators.

"The Speaker welcomes the work of leaders like Sen. Rubio on this issue, and is looking forward to learning more about the proposal in the coming days," said Boehner's spokesman Michael Steel.

House Republicans will not seek to shut down the government if Democrats don't agree to cut spending when funding expires at the end of March, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said Sunday on NBC's Meet The Press. At the same time, Ryan predicted that the sequester's across-the-board spending cuts to domestic programs and defense are unlikely to be avoided.

Ryan, the House Budget chairman, signaled that even though Republicans will push hard for spending cuts, they are "more than happy" to continue spending at levels written into law if the alternative is a government shutdown.

"We're not interested in shutting the government down," Ryan said.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is taking credit for defeating filibuster reform and preserving the GOP's ability to block legislation.

The Kentucky Republican's 2014 re-election campaign fired off a fundraising email to supporters after the finalization of the bipartisan rules change agreement, which passed Thursday night. The agreement negotiated by McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) leaves the 60-vote threshold in tact but speeds up the legislating process.

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