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. Barney Frank (D-MA) told TPM that if House Republicans amend the Senate bill to include spending cuts they'll effectively kill the deal.

"If they do that'll kill the package," he said after a Democratic caucus meeting.

"I would not predict what these people will try to do because they are in thrall to extremists," Frank said. "But if they amend this I don't know how they think they -- an amendment basically says, our ideology is too rigid and we're not really trying to really [reach a deal]."

Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) office said his members have expressed "universal concern" with the agreement's lack of spending cuts. Rumors on Capitol Hill are that the House GOP is considering amending the legislation and sending it back to the Senate.

House Democratic leaders demanded an up-or-down vote on the Senate deal on Tuesday afternoon.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) declined to discuss whether a GOP amendment to include spending cuts would threaten the bill.

"Look, the country deserves an up or down vote on the compromise bipartisan bill that passed the Senate," he told TPM. "What we're calling for is an up or down vote. Let democracy work its will. ... Let's just take this step by step."

House Republicans expressed "universal concern" with the lack of spending cuts in the fiscal cliff deal passed overwhelmingly by the Senate, said Speaker John Boehner's spokesman Brendan Buck.

"The Speaker and Leader laid out options to the members and listened to feedback," Buck said in an emailed statement. "The lack of spending cuts in the Senate bill was a universal concern amongst members in today’s meeting. Conversations with members will continue throughout the afternoon on the path forward."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called on GOP leadership to hold a "straight up or down vote" on the Senate-passed legislation to avert the fiscal cliff.

Flanked by Democratic leaders, she told reporters in the Capitol that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has a duty to permit a floor vote in order to prevent middle class taxes from rising.

The Congressional Budget Office has issued its score (PDF) on the Senate-passed fiscal cliff agreement.

The net effect of the tax and budgetary provisions will be to increase the deficit by $3.97 trillion between 2013 and 2022 relative to current law, CBO found.

FreedomWorks and Heritage Action are whipping members of Congress against the Senate legislation to avoid the fiscal cliff, scoring it as a key vote.

The two conservative activist groups issued separate statements in opposition to the bill, which passed the Senate anyway but could give House Republicans pause.

FreedomWorks' Matt Kibbe asked group members to call their senators "vote NO on the McConnell-Obama bill to raise taxes and postpone the promised sequester savings."

Heritage dubbed it a "kick-the-can tax increase."

The socially conservative Family Research Council denounced the Senate-passed fiscal cliff agreement for its lack of "spending cuts or entitlement reform" -- and said it effectively penalizes married couples by leaving joint tax filers with less than twice the standard deduction for individuals.

FRC's statement Tuesday:

"To make matters worse, President Obama's fiscal cliff deal would impose a marriage penalty on many American families. For real, long term solutions to our nation's fiscal problems, the government should not be working to further dissuade couples from getting married.

"Research out of Family Research Council's Marriage and Religion Research Institute routinely shows that married couples with children create the most capital and generate the most income on average. This economic activity leads to higher revenue for government and more capital for economic expansion. Why then would we penalize marriage? We should be encouraging family formation, not penalizing it.

Speaking on the House floor Tuesday, arch-conservative Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) lashed out at the Senate-passed deal to avert the fiscal cliff.

"We're taking up a bill that will not do anything to cut spending," he said. "I'm embarrassed for this generation. The future generations deserve better."

President Obama appeared on NBC's "Meet The Press" Sunday to ratchet up the pressure on Congress to act to avoid the fiscal cliff -- and repeatedly blamed Republicans for the impending crisis in the event of failure.

"So far, at least, Congress has not been able to get this stuff done," Obama said. "Not because Democrats in Congress don't want to go ahead and cooperate, but because I think it's been very hard for Speaker Boehner and Republican Leader McConnell to accept the fact that taxes on the wealthiest Americans should go up a little bit as part of an overall deficit reduction package."

Read More →

In a rare Sunday appearance on NBC's "Meet The Press," President Obama offered some additional thoughts on the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting.

"That was the worst day of my presidency, and it's not something I want to see repeated," Obama said, saying the tragedy hit close to home.

The president said new gun control laws won't happen if the public doesn't speak up and demand them. He was wary of the push to deal with the problem of school shootings by arming teachers and faculty.

(Photo: President Barack Obama wipes away a tear while speaking about the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Credit: AP)

This was a bad year for the Republican Party. What started out as a year of hope that they would return to power ended in a series of profound disappointments that left party strategists debating whether the GOP would become a permanent minority unless they change course.

Here are the party's five most disappointing moments.

Read More →