Sahil Kapur Profile picture
National Political Reporter at @NBCNews / Email me at sahil.kapur@nbcuni.com / DMs are open for tips, cell or Signal.
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6 Mar
BREAKING: Senate votes 50-49 to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion Covid relief package.

Every Democrat votes YES, every Republican votes NO.
The one absence in the Covid relief vote is Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), who left town for a family emergency, per his office.
SENATE PASSES THE COVID RELIEF BILL

It includes:

—$1,400 stimulus checks
—$300-a-week jobless benefits
—Child allowance up to $3,600
—$350 billion state/local aid
—$34 billion for ACA subsidies
—$14 billion vaccine distribution
—100% COBRA subsidies

nbcnews.com/politics/congr…
Read 6 tweets
6 Mar
LATEST: Senate Democrats blazed through a series of overnight votes after resolving an internal clash over jobless benefits that threatened to derail the bill.

They voted down lots of GOP amendments with everyone aboard.

Final passage is getting closer.

nbcnews.com/politics/congr…
The Senate is killing Republican amendment after Republican amendment on a vote of 50-49, with Joe Manchin sticking with the blue team.

The ideological gap between the most conservative Democrat and the most liberal Republican is massive.
(Dan Sullivan had to leave town due to a family emergency, so Republicans have 49 votes in this vote-a-rama.)
Read 10 tweets
6 Mar
ELEVEN HOURS LATER: The Senate has yet to call the minimum wage vote as Democrats ready their new jobless benefit amendment for prime time.

The chamber is mostly empty.
And 11 hours and 50 minutes later, the Senate finishes the vote on the first amendment to the Covid relief bill.

"Voting will resume shortly," @SenSchumer says. "Now that this agreement has reached we are going to power through the rest of this process and get this bill done."
McConnell mocks Democrats for their internal divisions that forced this delay. "What this proves is there are benefits to bipartisanship," he says. As majority leader, McConnell pursued partisan votes (unsuccessfully) for ACA repeal and (successfully) on a major tax overhaul.
Read 9 tweets
5 Mar
NOW: @BernieSanders is introducing an amendment to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour in the Covid relief bill.

It doesn't have 50 votes at this stage and it's subject to being removed under reconciliation rules. But it looks like he intends to put every senator on the record.
Bernie Sanders, making the case for a $15 minimum wage, argues that some Americans are "giving up on democracy and moving toward authoritarianism" out of desperation, because the government keeps passing economic policies that ignore their needs and makes rich people richer.
"I think the parliamentarian was dead wrong," @BernieSanders says of the minimum wage ruling, decrying the "absurd process that we allow an unelected staffer" in the Senate to decide "whether 30 million Americans get a pay raise or not."
Read 7 tweets
3 Mar
NEW: Senate will narrow eligibility for stimulus checks under a deal between moderate Dems and Biden.

Singles under $75K get the full $1,400. But it zeroes out at $80K (not $100K).

Couples under $150K get full amount. But zeroes out at $160K (not $200K). nbcnews.com/politics/congr…
That’s according to two sources familiar with the Senate Democrats’ new plan. It keeps the $1,400 topline number for checks, per Biden’s promise, but phases them out much faster above the $75K/$150K incomes.

w/ @frankthorp @GarrettHaake 👇

nbcnews.com/politics/congr…
This means Biden will send checks to fewer people than Trump did (but with more cash for many).

Some Democrats had argued against this, warning it'd lead to some seriously angry people who got money before and didn't expect to be excluded this round.

nbcnews.com/politics/congr…
Read 4 tweets
3 Mar
NEW —> Democrats confront a harsh political choice: Save the filibuster or pass Biden's agenda

Covid aid is on track to pass. But many of his other big plans are headed for a fatal crash with the 60-vote rule.

Progressives are agitating to destroy it.

nbcnews.com/politics/congr…
Warren on the filibuster: “The piece in front of us right now is the minimum wage. The piece that's coming up is the Voting Rights Act. And the piece after that is immigration reform. And another piece is universal child care. The infrastructure package.” nbcnews.com/politics/congr…
Biden’s filibuster position hasn’t changed, per White House official who points me to broad support for his nominations as sign of cooperation.

Some Dems say his overtures will only waste time as Rs run Obama-era playbook of unifying to weaken the prez. nbcnews.com/politics/congr…
Read 6 tweets
1 Mar
.@RoKhanna + 22 House Dems call on White House to ignore the parliamentarian and allow a $15 wage in the Covid bill.

A Senate expert tells me @VP has the power do this—and it'd take 60 votes to overrule her—but that it's never been done on Byrd rule.

WH has rejected this call. ImageImage
What @RoKhanna et al. are calling for is @VP to *ignore* the parliamentarian by issuing a ruling that the $15 wage complies. The parl. is an adviser and has no power to rule; the presiding officer rules and VP can preside. Hence this scenario doesn’t require a vote to *overrule.*
In any event, the other problem for Democrats pushing a $15 wage end-run around the parliamentarian is that even if they clear the rules hurdle, they lack 50 Senate votes for the policy.
Read 4 tweets
27 Feb
It's 8 o'clock on a Friday night and the House Rules Committee still hasn't sent the Covid-19 relief bill to the floor for a vote. Chairman Jim McGovern is rapidly running out of f@$&s to give, racing through votes on Republican amendments with each one getting rejected.
Rules Committee votes to send Biden's $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill to the House floor.

As Dems finalize the report, @TomColeOK04 asks the chair: "Should I have a short or long cigar?"

He says Cole isn't managing it so it doesn't matter.

Next up: A vote in the full chamber.
219-210, House officially votes to proceed to Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid bill on the floor.

Now: One hour of debate.

Then a final series of votes on the bill.
Read 4 tweets
26 Feb
NEW: Senate parliamentarian rules that Democrats cannot put $15 minimum wage in Covid relief under the reconciliation rules, all but dooming the effort in this legislation. nbcnews.com/politics/congr…
And this is when the filibuster wars seriously begin.
Chuck Schumer is "deeply disappointed." Lindsey Graham is "very pleased." Bernie Sanders is befuddled and calls for using tax deductions to push big corporations to pay at least $15/hr in the Covid package to get around the rules.

w/ @LACaldwellDC 👇

nbcnews.com/politics/congr…
Read 8 tweets
23 Feb
SCHUMER on Covid relief: "We are on track to get this bill done and get it on the president's desk before" unemployment benefits expire on March 14.

"We're going to meet that deadline."
Chuck Schumer: "One thing is clear in the Senate. The era of Mitch McConnell's legislative graveyard is over."
Schumer says he told Senate Democratic committee chairs today to craft "a legislative package to out-compete China and create new American jobs."
Read 4 tweets
22 Feb
NEW: @RepStephMurphy, co-chair of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition, tells @NBCNews the GOP must be kept out of power to save American democracy and national security.

A searing indictment that shows how much the Capitol siege has strained party relations.

nbcnews.com/politics/congr…
Did a wide-ranging interview with Rep. Murphy on the unusual stakes for 2022, how Democrats should govern and her theory for how they can avoid the midterm curse. The political survival of her coalition's members could decide the fight for House control.

nbcnews.com/politics/congr…
Some newsy nuggets here:

—Stephanie Murphy won't rule out a Senate bid in 2022, though she says her focus is on the pandemic

—She says Blue Dogs will return to deficit-consciousness after Covid and "police" red ink vigorously

nbcnews.com/politics/congr…
Read 4 tweets
19 Feb
Minimum wage thread 👇

(warning: arcane Senate stuff herein)
So the $15 wage is in Biden’s Covid relief bill headed to the House floor next week. But he’s predicting it won’t survive. Why? He says it’ll likely get stripped out in the Senate under the “Byrd rule” that limits reconciliation to budget changes, i.e. spending and taxes.
Bernie Sanders, the Budget Committee chairman, and Chuck Schumer disagree. They’re crafting a case to the parliamentarian that it should be allowed. But there’s a decent chance she disagrees. nbcnews.com/politics/congr…

So what happens next?
Read 8 tweets
18 Feb
Ted Cruz, speaking now about his Cancún trip, says he began to have regrets right as he got on the plane.

He says he understands why people are upset with him.
Ted Cruz says there needs to be “a serious inquiry” into why the electrical grid in Texas was unable to meet the state’s needs.
Cruz says his thinking in going to Cancun was: “I was taking care of my family the way Texans all across the state were.”

He adds: “It was obviously a mistake and in hindsight I shouldn’t have done it. I was trying to be a dad.”
Read 4 tweets
18 Feb
NEW: Democrats introduce a sweeping bill to remake the US immigration system, backed by Joe Biden. It includes a path to citizenship for "Dreamers" and others here illegally, eliminates hurdles for legal immigration and replaces "alien" with "noncitizen."

nbcnews.com/politics/immig…
Sen. Menendez, an author of the bill, says Democrats have a mandate to move beyond Trump's "hateful horror show."

He says "time and time again, we have compromised too much and capitulated too quickly to fringe voices" sympathetic to white nationalists.

nbcnews.com/politics/immig…
On immigration, Speaker Pelosi says Democrats have discussed a piecemeal approach as well as potentially using reconciliation to bypass a Senate filibuster.

"How it happens through the legislative process remains to be seen. But it is a priority."

nbcnews.com/politics/immig…
Read 9 tweets
15 Feb
This is significant. The House is on track to pass a $15 wage in the Covid bill. If it survives the Byrd rule then a federal minimum wage hike becomes likely. Senate Democrats aren’t all on board with $15/hour but they unanimously want to raise the current floor of $7.25/hour.
And in that case, which Democrat is going to want to stand up and wage a fight against $15, which according to polls has 2-to-1 public support and 80-85% support w/Dem voters?
For those citing Manchin and Sinema—this is where the process matters. If the parliamentarian rules a minimum wage is noncompliant, it’s probably over. Those two credibly say they won’t overrule her. But if it complies, their only leverage is to shoot down the entire Covid bill.
Read 4 tweets
13 Feb
NEW: The Republican civil war ended today. Donald Trump won.

The party’s decision to acquit him on charges of inciting the 1/6 siege on the Capitol frees him to run for president again and cements his status as kingmaker for years to come.

nbcnews.com/politics/donal…
The vote by 43 of 50 Republicans to acquit Trump shows the deep and enduring hesitation in the party to disown Trumpism, however they justify it. Senators know their voters care about how they vote, not the caveats they later add in a speech or statement.

nbcnews.com/politics/donal…
The vote today was GUILTY or NOT GUILTY, nothing else.

The vote on the constitutionality was on Tuesday and a majority of the Senate ruled it was constitutional.
Read 6 tweets
13 Feb
NOW: The Senate is voting on whether to convict Donald Trump on charges of incitement of insurrection.

The is the big one.

A conviction requires 67 votes.
Richard Burr (!) votes to convict Trump.
Bill Cassidy votes to convict Trump.
Read 15 tweets
13 Feb
The Senate is voting now on "whether or not it shall be in order to consider and debate under the impeachment rules any motion to subpoena witnesses and or documents."
Republicans voting YES on calling witnesses in this Trump trial: Collins, Murkowski, Romney, Sasse.

(Vote not final yet.)
! Lindsey Graham just changed his vote to YES on calling witnesses in the Trump trial.
Read 5 tweets
11 Feb
NEW: Democrats are at odds about whether to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour in the Covid bill.

The House is moving forward with it.

If this passes it’ll set up a clash with the Senate, where there is procedural and policy division on a $15 wage.

nbcnews.com/politics/congr…
President Biden put a $15 wage in his Covid bill but he's backing away by saying it'll likely die under Senate rules. Bernie Sanders isn't happy—he says the policy is eligible for reconciliation and that it's now or never.

Echoes of 2020 primary tension.

nbcnews.com/politics/congr…
Moderate House Democrats increasingly fear that pushing a $15 wage in the Covid bill would be a strategic mistake.

nbcnews.to/3d3Ty8s

How one senior aide from that camp described it to me: Image
Read 6 tweets
10 Feb
OMB nominee Neera Tanden is now sworn in at the Budget Committee, in a hearing chaired by Bernie Sanders.

These two are allied in shared goals today but they are not — to put it mildly — the best of friends.
Neera Tanden, giving her opening statement at the Budget Committee, says she regrets some of her past social media comments.
Sanders tells Neera Tanden her social media remarks include not just jabs at Republicans but also “vicious attacks against progressives.”

She acknowledges that her remarks “caused hurt to people...I apologize to people on the left or right who have been hurt by what I’ve said.”
Read 13 tweets
9 Feb
Trump lawyer Bruce Castor praises the "outstanding presentation" from managers.

"You will not hear any member of the team representing former President Trump say anything but in the strongest possible way denounce the violence of the rioters and those that breached the Capitol."
Trump's lawyer Bruce Castor calls US senators "extraordinary people, in the technical sense." Then discusses Everett Dirksen and his "commanding, gravely voice that just oozes belief and sincerity."
Bruce Castor: "This trial is about trading liberty for the security from the mob? Honestly, no. It can't be. We can't be thinking about that."
Read 5 tweets