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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

House Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) office is pushing back on reports that he told his conference on Thursday morning that he doesn't expect Congress to avert a student loan interest rate hike in July.

"The Speaker told the members that the president wants to fabricate fights on things like student loans because he's out of ideas; he doesn't want to talk about his record or his failed policies. Told them the House has passed a responsible bill, and that we are waiting on Senate Democrats," Boehner's spokesman Michael Steel told TPM after Democrats pounced. "But that if the interest rate lapses because of the Democrats' inaction we can fix it retroactively. He also reiterated what he's said before ... that if there's a solution that can pass both chambers, we're ready to talk about it."

The pushback came in response to reports citing anonymous sources -- from Politico and CNN -- that Boehner privately told House Republicans that it was a "phony" fight and warned them that it was unlikely Congress would be able to prevent Stafford loan interest rates from doubling.

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House Republicans are teeing up a vote Thursday on legislation aimed at criminalizing abortions on the basis of the unborn child's gender.

Opponents take no issue with the goal of the bill but argue its real purpose is to further the broader anti-abortion cause.

"Nobody that I know -- nobody that I've ever talked to -- is for abortions for the purposes of gender selection, period," House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told reporters Tuesday at his weekly press briefing. "Having said that, as a practical matter, the proponents of this bill are against abortion. ... It's not a question of the purpose of the abortion. They're against abortion."

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Senate Republicans are echoing the House GOP's shift in favor of some of the more popular "Obamacare" provisions, a sign that the party is uniting behind the strategy ahead of the election.

With a Supreme Court decision looming next month, House Republicans are privately weighing a plan to reinstate three popular elements of the law if it's struck down -- guaranteeing coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions, allowing young adults up to 26 years old to remain on a parent's insurance policy, and closing the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the "doughnut hole."

Whether coverage of pre-existing conditions is economically viable for insurers without an individual mandate is a dubious proposition, but practical realities are taking a back seat to election year imperatives. It's not a hard sell to voters: you can have all the popular provisions of health care reform without the unpopular ones.

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On the campaign trail, President Obama has touted recent data that dispels the notion that he has embarked on a spending binge -- and his Republican opponents, citing various fact-checks, are aggressively pushing back.

Part of the pushback, it turns out, inadvertently proves Obama's larger point.

"Federal spending since I took office has risen at the slowest pace of any president in almost 60 years," Obama said last Thursday at a campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa. Citing a MarketWatch study, White House spokesman Jay Carney called the notion of an Obama spending spree "BS."

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Amid signs that Republicans are warming to some provisions of President Obama's health care law, influential conservative groups are warning the GOP not to waver on their promise to repeal the measure in its entirety.

Conservative advocates are displeased that Republicans are privately weighing a replacement plan that involves reinstating popular elements of the health care law -- including its coverage guarantee regardless of pre-existing conditions, the ability to remain on a parent's plan until age 26 and provisions that close the Medicare "doughnut hole."

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As the landmark Supreme Court decision looms next month, Republicans have been privately considering a plan to reinstate some popular provisions of "Obamacare" if it's struck down.

The revelation sent conservative advocates -- who have demanded nothing less than total repeal -- into a tizzy, which forced House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to reaffirm his commitment to "repealing Obamacare in its entirety," declaring that "[a]nything short of that is unacceptable."

But more evidence is emerging that Republicans believe that's not tenable.

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Donald Trump took to Twitter Sunday evening to lash back at George Will after the conservative columnist labeled him a "bloviating ignoramus."

It was a response to Will's remark earlier that morning on ABC's "This Week" that he's baffled Mitt Romney would want to align himself with Trump.

"I do not understand the cost-benefit here," Will said. "The costs are clear. The benefits – what voter is going to vote for him because he’s seen with Donald Trump? The cost of appearing with this bloviating ignoramus is obvious, it seems to me. Donald Trump is redundant evidence that if your net worth is high enough, your IQ can be very low and you can still intrude into American politics."

On CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday, DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) said the upcoming Wisconsin gubernatorial recall race is a "test run" for the Democratic election machine in presidential battleground states.

The following is her exchange with Candy Crowley, who asked her about the national implications of the recall.

CROWLEY: If the Republican governor should retain his seat up there, what will it say about the power of unions who have been fighting him and what will it say about putting Wisconsin in play this fall?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I am going there Tuesday to campaign with Mayor Barrett. I think that he has a real opportunity to win. We have put our considerable grassroots resources behind him. All of the Obama for America and state party resources, our grassroots network is fully...

CROWLEY: But are there national implications?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... engaged. And -- well, I think what's going to happen is that because of our on-the-ground operation, we have had an opportunity in this election, because especially given that Wisconsin is a battleground state, just like we did in the recall elections a year ago, to give this a test run.

And so what I think the implications will be is that ultimately I think Tom Barrett will pull this out, but regardless it has given the Obama for America operation an opportunity to do...

CROWLEY: Test run it.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... the dry run that we need of our massive, significant, dynamic grassroots presidential campaign, which can't really be matched by the Romney campaign or the Republicans because they've ignored on the ground operations.

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