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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

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Thursday called an extension of the high-income Bush tax cuts "a recipe for failure that we've already done" and yielded "record unemployment."

"I know that the candidate of millionaires thinks that that's the only way -- trickle down," she told reporters. "Well, I don't know what's trickling down, but it's not a pleasant experience for the middle class. Instead, money is extracted up."

The Obama administration's birth control mandate took effect Wednesday, granting an estimated 47 million women access to free contraception and a raft of preventive health services.

As of Aug. 1, new or renewing health insurance plans are required to provide birth control to women at no out-of-pocket cost. Houses of worship are exempt and religious nonprofits get a one-year reprieve, as well as the option to pass the cost to the insurance company.

The administration established the much-ballyhooed rule, authorized under the Affordable Care Act and drawing upon recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, on the grounds that improved access to preventive health services prevents illnesses and saves money.

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Since taking over the House, GOP conservatives have routinely used must-pass bills as a vehicle to achieve policy goals. But despite spending months charging toward another government shutdown threat when funding expires on Sept. 30, right-wing members now appear to be willing to temporarily accept the status quo in order to protect the party's hopes on Election Day.

A tentative deal announced Tuesday by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) would fund the government for six months at levels under existing law. A vote is slated for September.

"There was a drive inside conservatives who wanted six months instead of three months," said House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who has close ties to the GOP's right flank. "I don't think there was ever a debate whether we'd get to a [continuing resolution]."

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Congressional leaders on Tuesday announced an agreement to avoid a government shutdown weeks before Election Day, that will fund the government for six months at agreed upon levels when funding expires on Oct. 1.

But the bill still needs to be written and passed by both chambers in time -- a challenge for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), whose members have been hoping to use it as a vehicle to cut deeply into government programs.

"The Speaker and I and the President have agreed on how we're going to fund the government for the next six months," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). "It will be free of riders. This is very good."

The vote is slated for after the August recess. The funding level is poised to be $1.047 trillion, as set in the bipartisan debt limit law last August.

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In a sign that anti-spending conservatives may fall in line on the deal struck Tuesday to fund the government through the election and avert a shutdown, the right-wing Club For Growth signaled it won't fight the stopgap measure.

The real battle, the group's spokesman said in an email, will come after the election.

“There's not much to like about a continuing resolution that funds ObamaCare, after Republicans promised they wouldn't, and spends more than the Ryan budget. It’s a given that Congress wants to avoid hard work before the election – the real question is whether they’ll do the hard work after the election," Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller told TPM.

White House spokesman Jay Carney issued a statement Tuesday afternoon commending the tentative deal struck between congressional leaders to avoid a government shutdown before the election.

The agreement reached by House and Senate leadership to fund the government through the first quarter of 2013 is a welcome development, and we are encouraged that both sides have agreed to resolve this issue without delay. The President has made clear that it is essential that the legislation to fund the government adheres to the funding levels agreed to by both parties last year, and not include ideological or extraneous policy riders. The President will work with leaders in both parties to sign a bill that accomplishes these goals.

Senate Democrats are rebuffing House Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) push for bicameral negotiations to finalize the Violence Against Women Act, exercising their clout to demand the House pass their expanded bipartisan version.

On Monday, Boehner appointed eight members to an unformed conference committee: Reps. Sandy Adams (R-FL), Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Nan Hayworth (R-NY), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX).

A senior Senate Democratic aide dismissed Boehner's move.

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Just months ago, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) seemed to have accepted that accomplishing the basic functions of government required throwing some red meat to his conservative members. But less 100 days away from the election, he is trying to bury a spending bill that rank and file members want to use as a vehicle to gut 'Obamacare', end family planning funds, and slash spending on longstanding programs.

The conundrum illustrates GOP leaders' wariness of reigniting volatile political battles and potentially alienating voters ahead of the November election.

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During a trip to Israel, Mitt Romney hailed the nation's health care system for holding down costs and broadening coverage more effectively than the U.S.

The irony: Israel contains costs by adopting a very centralized, government-run health care system -- anathema to Romney's Republican Party.

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The Democratic Party intends to include language supporting same sex marriage in its 2012 national platform, a Democratic source confirmed to TPM on Monday.

As first reported by the Washington Blade, a 15-member committee unanimously approved draft language Sunday with a pro-gay-marriage plank. It would be the first time a major U.S. party has officially supported the cause.

"[T]his was the first step in the platform process," the source said. "The platform drafting committee met in Minneapolis this past weekend. Next, the full platform committee will consider it in Detroit (in two weeks) and then, it will go to the convention delegates in Charlotte for final approval."

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