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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

The House Democrats' electoral arm isn't letting Rep. Robert Dold (R-IL) off the hook after he unveiled legislation Wednesday to protect federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

In a statement, the DCCC pointed out that Dold voted in February 2011 for a broad House appropriations measure that included a provision to strip all $317 million from family planning funding.

"Congressman Robert Dold just introduced a bill to protect Title X funding that he previously voted to eliminate," read an advisory from the group. "Congressman Robert Dold has consistently sacrificed women’s health to push an extreme ideological agenda in line with the Tea Party and out of touch with Illinois families. Despite his attempt to paper over his record, Congressman Dold can’t hide his votes to terminate Title X funding and egregiously attack women’s access to life-saving procedures and preventative care."

Dold has a mixed record on women's health issues. In 2011 he was one of 7 Republicans to vote against a measure specifically aimed at defunding Planned Parenthood, but he has backed various efforts by his party to restrict access to abortion.

Longtime Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), the first member of Congress to reveal himself to be gay, told TPM he was very happy to see President Obama endorse same-sex marriage, but characterized the move as a political no-brainer that would have little impact on the 2012 election.

"I do not think anybody is going to switch his or her opinion on him because of this," Frank said shortly after Obama's announcement Wednesday afternoon. "I believe that if you are someone who was going to be so influenced by your position on same-sex marriage, then you would already be against Obama before this, because of his position on [the Defense of Marriage Act]."

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A freshman House Republican sent a concise message to his party leaders Wednesday: Stop messing with Planned Parenthood.

Rep. Robert Dold, who represents the liberal suburbs of Chicago, on Wednesday unveiled the "Protecting Women's Access to Health Care Act" outside the Capitol, which would forbid agencies and governments from denying Title X funds to a qualified organization.

"As a pro-choice Republican, I believe that this legislation is critical because it ensures nondiscrimination within the federal Title X family planning program," Dold told reporters, standing alongside a Planned Parenthood official and the leader of a pro-choice Republican group.

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Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), who is openly gay, issued a statement praising President Obama's announcement that he believes same sex couples should be able to marry.

"President Obama's announcement in support of marriage equality is welcome news for American families. I thank the president for his support for equality and look forward to working with him to strengthen the institution of marriage by securing the right of all Americans to marry the person they love."

Senate Republicans' Tuesday filibuster of a Democratic bill to avert a student loan interest rate hike signals a return to familiar territory for the party. The move comes after a brief detour that spurred speculation about whether, with the general election in full swing, Republicans were ready to ease up when it comes to blocking hot-button issues.

The context is an effort by the GOP -- and its presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney -- to save face with key voting constituencies that strongly favor Democrats and could swing the election: women, young voters and Hispanics.

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Senate Democrats' effort to avert a student loan interest rate hike fell prey Tuesday to a Republican wall of opposition. GOP members declared their support for the cause but grumbled about how the majority party wants to pay for it.

A motion to proceed went down along party lines, 52-45, falling short of the 60 votes needed to break a GOP filibuster. The underpinnings of the debate are an election-year battle for young voters, whom President Obama is eager to energize and whom presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is also courting.

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House Republicans advanced a measure Monday that shifts automatic defense spending cuts the parties agreed to last August as part of a bipartisan debt-limit deal to domestic programs aimed at mitigating poverty and working-class struggles.

In clearing the legislation, the Budget Committee put it on a glide path to passing the full House -- but that's when it falls into limbo. Senate Democratic leadership had a concise message for their GOP colleagues: Dream on.

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As Congress returns from recess this week, House Republicans are set to advance legislation to replace automatic defense spending cuts they agreed to last year with cuts to programs for the poor and working class. The controversial measure is expected to pass the House and die in the Senate, making it largely a political exercise that allows the two parties to contrast the values at the heart of the 2012 election: Should the burden for addressing the country's long-running fiscal challenges fall to struggling people, or to the wealthiest people in the country?

The proposal -- which is an outgrowth of the budget the House GOP overwhelmingly voted for late March -- would cut some $261 billion from health care programs, food stamps, unemployment benefits and child tax credits, among others. It constitutes a violation of the GOP's end of the debt-limit deal, which included painful sacrifices for both parties if the Congress failed to reach a bipartisan deficit-reduction agreement.

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