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

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.

Lost in the frenzy surrounding the Supreme Court health care arguments this week is an important development on Capitol Hill: House Republicans are poised to vote Thursday to drastically transform Medicare and spark another potential government shutdown battle.

The new budget plan by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) faces a floor vote Thursday -- it's a tweaked version of last year's blueprint that was relentlessly attacked by Democrats for "ending Medicare as we know it" in order to pay for large tax cuts for high-income earners. This year's blueprint also replaces Medicare with a subsidized insurance exchange, but keeps traditional Medicare alive as a public option among private plans that seniors can buy into.

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With potentially millions of jobs on the line, House Republicans are advancing their last, best option Thursday to prevent scores of transportation and infrastructure programs from expiring this weekend.

Despite a strong push by GOP leadership, rank-and-file House Republicans have resisted the call to back a bipartisan transportation bill, including one that passed the Senate overwhelmingly two weeks ago.

To save face without sparking the ire of caucus conservatives, House Speaker John Boehner will instead punt, and try to pass a three-month extension of existing programs. But even that isn't a sure bet to win 218 Republican votes.

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A handful of Senate Democrats sought to assure doubtful liberals that the Supreme Court justices aren't ready to strike down their crowning achievement, standing before cameras and mics Wednesday in front of the court. One warned that doing so would ruin the court's credibility.

"This court would not only have to stretch, it would have to abandon and completely overrule a lot of modern precedent, which would do grave damage to this court, in its credibility and power," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D), a former attorney general of Connecticut. "The court commands no armies, it has no money; it depends for its power on its credibility. The only reason people obey it is because it has that credibility. And the court risks grave damage if it strikes down a statute of this magnitude and importance, and stretches so dramatically and drastically to do it."

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