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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

Updated 1:27 ET

It looks like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's gambit to force the GOP to hold up judicial nominees and delay action on the JOBS Act won't pan out after all.

Reid on Wednesday asked that his cloture votes on 17 stalled nominees to federal district courts be vitiated, and indicated that he and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will announce the details of an agreement later.

"He [McConnell] will explain to his caucus, I will explain to mine," Reid said on the Senate floor. "It's something that, like all matters we do here legislatively, an effort to work out a compromise."

According to National Journal, McConnell said Reid has agreed to move on the JOBS Act first.

A remarkable 14 percent of Americans believe the Supreme Court has already struck down the Affordable Care Act, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

The high court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the case later this month and likely render a decision by the end of June.

The Kaiser survey also found that, as consistent with other polls, most Americans (51 percent) believe the law's requirement that Americans purchase insurance is unconstitutional. Just 28 percent deem it constitutional, and the rest don't have an opinion.

Roughly similar numbers (53 percent to 33 percent) expect the Supreme Court to overturn the law.

[h/t Sarah Kliff]

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is warning House Republicans they'll be setting themselves up for another tea party-inspired government shutdown fight, unless GOP leaders buck their conservative rank and file and hew to the terms of last summer's hard-fought debt-limit deal.

House Republicans are prepared to introduce their budget resolution next Tuesday, and some signs suggest they'll call for cutting federal programs below the levels both parties agreed to in last August's debt-limit fight. On Tuesday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid laid down the Democrats' marker in no uncertain terms: Dream on, we'll never let you buck the deal.

"This wasn't a handshake, it was a law we passed," Reid told reporters on Tuesday at a weekly Capitol briefing. "And now, the Republican right wing in the House is trying to change the agreement we made as a matter of law. I guess they love government shutdowns, or at least the threat of them ... If they renege on the law, the agreement, they'll be forcing yet another government shutdown and a fight with the American people. That's ridiculous."

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The Affordable Care Act will insure fewer people and cost $51 billion less over 10 years than was projected last March, the Congressional Budget Office announced Tuesday in a revised estimate.

As of 2016, the law's insurane exchanges are expected to insure 2 million fewer people overall than had been estimated. The ACA is poised to raise Medicaid and CHIP enrollment while decreasing coverage by more in other areas like employer-sponsored insurance, CBO said.

Here's an excerpt from the CBO report highlighting the budgetary changes to 2012-2021 projections, which it attributes to new legislation, adjustments in the economic outlook and updated forecasts regarding insurance premium growth.

  • An increase of $168 billion in projected outlays for Medicaid and CHIP;

  • A decrease of $97 billion in projected costs for exchange subsidies and related spending;

  • A decrease of $20 billion in the cost of tax credits for small employers; and

  • An additional $99 billion in net deficit reductions from penalty payments, the excise tax on high-premium insurance plans, and other effects on tax revenues and outlays—with most of those effects reflecting changes in revenues. 

 

Senate leaders dug in Tuesday afternoon on a standoff involving the bipartisan JOBS Act and stalled judicial nominees.

In a press conference at the Capitol, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) argued that the 17 stalled federal district court nominees should be dealt with in the coming months and that he's more concerned with moving the small-business JOBS Act the moment the highway bill is passed.

"We hope the Senate Democratic majority will not obstruct our ability to go forward and actually accomplish good things for the American people," McConnell told reporters. "I assume these 17 people already have a job... What we're worried about is all the people who don't currently have a job."

His fellow Senate GOP leaders, standing alongside him, sought to drive home the same message.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) countered that there's no legitimate reason for the GOP to continue blocking the nominees, noting that McConnell has already conceded that most are noncontroversial and will ultimately be confirmed. Reid told reporters that it'll take "five minutes" to clear the prospective judges once Republicans drop their filibuster, at which point he'll move on to JOBS.

As to the charge that Dems are trying to gum up the works on the JOBS Act, Reid said, "I don't know logically what in the world they're talking about."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a message for the Republicans: Stand in the way of confirming over a dozen judicial nominees, as you've threatened to, and the country can watch for weeks as you hold up the bipartisan JOBS Act. I dare you.

Ever since President Obama used his recess appointment power to install the director of a powerful consumer protection agency, and members of the National Labor Relations Board, Senate Republicans have threatened to hold up all of his other pending nominees. Including judges.

Normally, there's little a majority leader can do to thwart a determined minority bent on grinding the Senate to a halt. But Reid believes he's found the leverage he needs.

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Republicans have had no luck convincing Democrats to adopt their controversial plan to convert Medicare into a subsidized private insurance system. But they have had some success convincing Democrats to abandon President Obama and his plan for making Medicare spending sustainable. At least until now.

With help from some Democrats, House committees last week cleared legislation that would repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the Medicare cost-saving board created by Obama's health care law, and the GOP-led chamber is poised to pass it next week. But their new plan to pay for the bill with a medical malpractice reform measure is already costing them Democratic votes -- and thus weakening their claim that Obama's vision for Medicare faces bipartisan opposition.

It's the latest jab in the congressional shadowboxing over Medicare's future.

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Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) told TPM the that House GOP has lost his vote for their bill repealing the Medicare cost-cutting Independent Payment Advisory Board after proposing to offset it with medical malpractice reform.

Frank is one of some 20 Democrats cosponsor of the IPAB-repeal bill, but said the GOP's medmal offset is a bridge too far that will alienate other Dems as well. Asked whether he'll vote for it now, Frank said, "Of course not."

"It's typical of their irresponsible approach. They talk about wanting to have bipartisan cooperation but they don't want it," Frank told TPM on Monday. "They have a lot of Democratic support to repeal [IPAB] and they know it. They were dangerously close to having some bipartisanship and they couldn't accept that."

"They're taking two very different issues and putting them together in an effort to coerce Democrats," he added. "This is nothing more than an overreach to appease the right wing."

Frank said he opposes IPAB because he believes other federal programs, most notably the military, should be cut to balance the budget, as opposed Medicare providers. He emphasized that hospitals, which could face cuts under IPAB, are "major sources of employment" and shouldn't be on the hook.

He added that he supports some cost-cutting policies in Medicare such as asking wealthier seniors to pay higher premiums.

Rep. Allyson Schwartz (PA), the most outspoken Democratic supporter of the GOP's effort to repeal the Medicare cost-cutting Independent Payment Advisory Board, tore into Republicans on Monday for proposing to pay for it with medical malpractice reform.

In a statement to TPM sent via a spokesperson, she warned that the "partisan" pay-for will cost the GOP Dem vote and guarantee defeat.

"Unfortunately, Republican Leadership is manipulating the dialogue on this issue for political purposes, which will undoubtedly lead many Democratic Members to vote against the bill – despite support for the underlying policy from House Democrats across the ideological spectrum," Schwartz told TPM. "By unnecessarily tying repeal of IPAB to a partisan malpractice bill, House Republicans have effectively ensured that this bill is dead. This is deeply disappointing."

Medical malpractice reform has long been a poison bill for Democrats and even some Republicans who want to leave malpractice damage caps to states.

 

 

House Republican leadership has opted to offset the $3.1 billion cost of repealing the Medicare cost-cutting Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) with Rep. Phil Gingrey's (R-GA) medical malpractice reform bill, an aide confirms.

The House is poised to vote on the bill next week.

The move runs the risk of alienating some of the Democrats -- and perhaps 10th Amendment Republicans -- who want to repeal IPAB but oppose federal caps on malpractice damage awards. But the legislation is widely expected to fail in the Democratic-led Senate either way.

TPMLivewire