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

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that it's clear Mitt Romney will be the GOP's presidential nominee.

"I think he's going to be an excellent candidate, and I think the chances are overwhelming that he will be our nominee. It seems to me that we're in the final phases of wrapping up this nomination," he said on CNN's State of the Unino. "And most of the members of the Senate Republican Conference are either supporting him, or they have the view that I do that it's time to turn our attention to the fall campaign and begin to make the case against the president of the United States.

He ducked an opportunity to endorse Romney but said, "it's absolutely apparent that it's in the best interest of our party at this particular point to get behind the person who is obviously going to be our nominee."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday fielded off a question about how the gradually improving economy could impact the GOP's chances in the November elections.

"Well I certainly hope that we are seeing some signs of recovery," he said on CNN's State of the Union. "And there's a modest recovery apparently underway. What we do still have is 8.3 percent unemployment. What we have is an increase in the national debt of 43 percent under this president. Our national debt is now the size of the economy. That is not a prescription for a healthy economy long-term. Almost no one is predicting that we're going to get back to what most Americans consider a normal unemployment rate of around 5 and a half percent. So yes, we're encouraged that the economy seems to be gaining some momentum."

McConnell indicated that Republicans won't deny that a recovery is taking hold.

"So yeah, I think the economy is still going to be an issue in the fall," he added. "We're certainly pleased that there are some signs of growth."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday accused CNN's Candy Crowley of adopting Democratic talking points in a question about oil industry tax loopholes.

"Senator," she said on State of the Union, "just in terms of the fairness issue, which you know is very important to Americans, and to politicians, one hopes, the oil companies are making record profits and yet taxpayers are paying for these loophopes for oil companies, which are basically tax breaks. And so, just on the face of it sir, it certainly does seem to a lot of Americans that people who are making record profits shouldn't be taking taxes that we're paying on April 15 to get their tax breaks."

The Republican senator responded, "Well, you know, with all due respect Candy, you're using all the Democratic talking points, and that's all quite interesting and it polls well, but ... the issue is the price of gas at the pump. If you raise taxes on the producers, you drive the prices even higher."

In the middle of McConnell's answer, Crowley interjected, "Well I use the Republican ones for a Democrat."

Brave or politically suicidal?

For the second year in a row, Republicans voted Thursday to effectively dismantle Medicare -- this time, just over seven months before a presidential election. And Democrats are salivating at the political opportunity, eager to hang the vote around the neck of the party's presidential nominee and its candidates in tough congressional races.

"A year ago, nobody was talking about Democrats having a shot at the House. Now we're talking about it," a Democratic leadership aide told TPM after the vote, a party-line 228-191 that didn't win a single Dem.

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Justice Antonin Scalia's misgivings about President Obama's health care law were evident to all observers during this week's three days of Supreme Court arguments on its constitutionality.

But his skepticism went beyond probing questions about Congressional power and interstate commerce. At various points, the justice's questions echoed lines of attack you'd just as likely read on a conservative blog or in a Republican National Committee email blast.

Here are Scalia's top five Supreme Talking Points.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is poised to file cloture on Buffett Rule legislation today, and set up a vote for April 16, a Democratic leadership aide tells TPM.

President Obama championed the principle in his State of the Union address, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) subsequently introduced legislation, which sets a minimum tax rate of 30 percent for people making over $1 million.

The Republican-led House passed the Paul Ryan budget on a party line vote of 228-191.

No Democrats voted for the measure, and 10 Republicans defected.

The blueprint, which is seen as a nonstarter in the Senate, radically overhauls Medicare and could potentially spark off another government shutdown battle later this year.

A budget resolution based on the work of President Obama's bipartisan fiscal commission went down in flames Wednesday night in the House.

A version of the Bowles-Simpson budget -- the commission never found the majority needed to report out an official one -- was defeated 38-382. The measure was offered by Reps. Jim Cooper (D-TN) and Steve LaTourette (R-OH) in the run-up to Thursday's vote on the GOP's updated blueprint written by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan.

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House Republicans muscled through their 90-day highway and transportation reauthorization bill on a mostly party-line vote Thursday.

The bill now goes to the Senate, which recently passed a strongly bipartisan two-year reauthorization measure. Democrats now have to decide whether to swallow the House's short-term bill before the programs lapse this weekend.

Erwin Chemerinsky, a dean of UC Irvine School of Law, weighed in after the final Supreme Court oral arguments Wednesday on the health care reform law.

He wrote in an email to TPM:

I think that it is impossible from the oral arguments to predict what the Court will do. It seems that the Court is not likely to dismiss on jurisdictional grounds and not likely to strike down the whole statute. But as to the constitutionality of the individual mandate, Justice Kennedy asked hard questions of both sides and it is impossible to predict his vote based on these questions. I have predicted from the outset that the Court would uphold the individual mandate and I continue to believe this will be the result.