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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

After the Senate passed a highway bill 74-22, Majority Leader Harry Reid called on House Republicans to take up the chamber's strongly bipartisan measure and not kowtow to their conservative members.

"The job-creating programs funded by this bill will expire in just a few weeks, and I urge my colleagues in the House to pass this bipartisan bill without delay," Reid said in a statement Wednesday. "If there was ever a piece of legislation that should not turn into a partisan fight, this is it. I hope my Republican colleagues in the House will choose to join us in this bipartisan, job-creating effort instead of trying to appease the Tea Party by manufacturing another fight."

As the Senate prepares to take up the GOP-led JOBS Act, a modest bill aimed at boosting small businesses, the White House issued a statement championing the measure while also indicating support for "improving" the House-passed version.

Spokeswoman Amy Brundge issued this statement Wednesday:

"The bill passed in the House last week includes a number of provisions that the President proposed months ago as a part of the American Jobs Act to help startups and small businesses get the capital they need to expand and hire. The President strongly supports the efforts of Senate Democrats to find common ground by supporting the most effective aspects of the House Bill to increase capital formation for growing businesses while also improving the House bill to ensure there are sufficient safeguards to prevent abuse and protect investors. We also urge both sides to vote to reauthorize the Export-Import bank which will help thousands of American businesses and achieve everyone’s goal here of ensuring American businesses can stay competitive."

Searching for an escape hatch now that the contraception wars are spinning out of their control, Republicans and conservatives are working to turn the Sandra Fluke saga into one big liberal conspiracy.

As Fluke vows that slurs won't silence women, here's a handy guide to the theories floating around on the right about the Georgetown law student who was smeared by Rush Limbaugh and has since created headaches for the GOP.

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The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a two-year transportation bill 74-22, which is set to cost $109 billion. It was developed by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK).

The legislation now goes to the House, where Republican leaders have tussled with their rank-and-file members, who want a more conservative version than the Senate landed on.

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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