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

Industrial output grew at a higher-than-expected rate in November and showed signs of recovery in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

Reuters reports:

Industrial production expanded 1.1 percent last month after a revised 0.7 percent fall in October, the Federal Reserve said on Friday.

That was the steepest increase since December 2010. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected output to gain by 0.3 percent last month, after October's previously reported 0.4 percent drop.

President Obama and Speaker John Boehner are scheduled to meet at the White House on Thursday.

A White House official and Boehner spokesman emailed TPM an identical statement: "Around 5pm this evening, Speaker Boehner will meet with the President at the White House."

On Thursday, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service republished an analysis that found no clear relationship between marginal high-end tax cuts and economic growth.

The report, initially published in September, was retracted later that month after top Republican senators complained about it.

The new version (PDF) stands by the larger conclusion:

This analysis finds no conclusive evidence, however, to substantiate a clear relationship between the 65-year reduction in the top statutory tax rates and economic growth. Analysis of such data conducted for this report suggests the reduction in the top tax rates has had little association with saving, investment, or productivity growth. It is reasonable to assume that a tax rate change limited to a small group of taxpayers at the top of the income distribution would have a negligible effect on economic growth.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), a leading champion of weakening the filibuster, is circulating a memo to colleagues fleshing out how his reform package would work.

The 7-page memo (PDF), provided by his office, confirms details of the proposal that were reported by TPM last week.

It would work like this. If the Senate held a cloture vote to end debate, and a majority of senators voted to end debate, but not 60, the Senate would enter a period of “extended debate.” In short, once the Senate has voted for additional debate, senators who feel that additional debate is necessary would need to make sure that at least one senator is on the floor presenting his or her arguments.

If, at any time during the period of extended debate, no senator were present to speak to the bill, then the presiding officer of the Senate would rule that the period of extended debate is over. The Majority Leader would then schedule a simple majority cloture vote on the bill.

If the simple majority cloture vote were to pass – and in most cases it would since the previous cloture vote already received a simple majority – the normal period of 30 hours of post-cloture debate would proceed. This post-cloture period would be exactly the same as it is now (unless changed by a separate change in a rule).

The senator is ratcheting up pressure on his colleagues to get behind the plan.

The Supreme Court will take up a challenge next spring to California's Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure which amends the state's constitution to hold that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

The outcome could range from requiring all states to accept gay marriage or decreeing such bans constitutional. The justices could also dodge the issue. Here are the different ways the ruling could go.

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New polling data shows overwhelming support for weakening the filibuster in the Senate.

Thousands of voters in 10 red, blue and purple states expressed disappointment with gridlock in the Senate and signaled strong support for the key pieces of Democrats' proposal to change the rules to eliminate silent filibusters and instead require obstructing senators to occupy the floor and speak.

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) scolded Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in remarks to the press Wednesday for refusing to extend middle income tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year. Her message? Being speaker is hard, but figure it out for the good of the country.

"It's tough. But you have to do it," she told reporters in the Capitol on Wednesday. "Figure it out."

Her remarks echo earlier comments from Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and other Democrats who are publicly suggesting that Boehner is refusing to come to grips with the reality that the top tax rates will rise because he's worried it will imperil his speakership.

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Ten House Republicans have joined 110 Democrats in pushing Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to take up reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act with the expanded protections that he's been resisting.

In a letter Tuesday, via the Huffington Post, the 120 lawmakers urged Boehner and House leaders to "move quickly on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) by bringing a bill inclusive of protections for all victims of domestic violence, similar to that which has already passed the Senate, to the House floor for a vote during these final weeks of the 112th Congress."

The Democratic-led Senate and Republican-led House passed competing versions of the re-authorization earlier this year, and the current impasse remains over GOP leaders' unwillingness to accept provision covering Native Americans, which conservatives view as unconstitutional vis-à-vis tribal jurisdiction.

The 10 Republicans on the letter span the ideological spectrum: Reps. Ted Poe (TX), Judy Biggert (IL), Richard Hanna (NY), Joe Heck (NV), Chris Gibson (NY), Jon Runyon (NJ), Patrick Meehan (PA), Robert Dold (IL), Michael Fitzpatrick (PA) and David Reichert (WA).

The morning after proposals were exchanged, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) criticized President Obama's plan to resolve the fiscal cliff in a Wednesday press availability.

"As of today the president's plan to avert the fiscal cliff still does not meet the two standards that I laid out after the election," he said. "The plan does not fulfill his promise to bring a balanced approach to solving this problem -- it's mainly tax hikes. And his plan does not begin to solve our debt crisis -- it actually increases spending."

The Speaker accused Obama of seeking to "slow-walk" the discussions.

"The president and I had a deliberate call yesterday," he said, "and we spoke honestly and openly about the differences that we face. But the president's calling for $1.4 trillion worth of revenue. That cannot pass the House or the Senate."

"The president seems to be walking us ever so slowly towards the fiscal cliff," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA).

A coalition of liberal advocacy groups is mobilizing its members to whip Democratic senators against voting for any deficit-reduction deal that cuts safety-net benefits.

The groups divide the caucus up into three categories -- the "weak-kneed," who they fear may agree to benefit cuts; the "wavering," who have signaled discomfort with the idea but haven't committed; and the "champions" whose support they're confident of. Via petition, they are urging their supporters to call their senators and ask for and record their positions on benefit cuts, with the dual goals of pressuring Democrats to oppose reducing Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits and of providing their supporters continually updated information on where key members stand on the issue.

"Senators owe their constituents clarity about whether they'll stand up against any benefit cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security," said Victoria Kaplan at MoveOn.org Political Action, in a statement to TPM. "Our whip count seeks to shine a spotlight on whether Democratic Senators will fight for poor, middle class and working families, or if they will cave to Republican demands to favor millionaires and billionaires instead."

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