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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

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), the No. 5 House Republican, says he opposes one of the Affordable Care Act's most popular provisions -- a ban on the insurance company practice of discriminating against people with pre-existing medical conditions.

"It's a terrible idea," he told Politico.

The remarks reflect a major conundrum for Republicans who, a year and a half after winning back the House, still have no idea how to replace "Obamacare" and are divided over how best to repeal it.

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A spokesman tells TPM that Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has seen coverage of UK Parliament's scathing report on phone hacking at News International, and continues to have questions about whether Rupert Murdoch's media empire has engaged in similar conduct in the U.S.

"Senator Rockefeller is just as concerned today as he was last year as to whether Americans were targets of this type of hacking and whether any US laws were broken," said Vince Morris.

The FBI is reportedly investigating the matter, which Rockefeller, the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, called for last summer.

In the first two years after "Obamacare" was signed, Medicare reforms in the law saved seniors a total of $3.4 billion in prescription drug costs by bridging a coverage gap, according to official figures.

Over 220,000 beneficiaries have saved an average of $837 in the first three months of 2012, the Medicare agency said Monday. That's on top of $3.2 billion in savings enjoyed by some 5.1 million seniors in 2010 and 2011 thanks to the Affordable Care Act, according to the advisory on the new figures.

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Next up in the Democrats' effort to put Republicans on the wrong side of women's issues: A new bill to combat gender-based pay disparities.

With the general election in full swing, Republicans are working overtime to repair their image with female voters. But Democrats aren't about to let that happen. Now that the Violence Against Women Act is poised to be re-authorized in some form, Dems are planning a push to enhance protections for women who sue for pay discrimination, the kind of measure Republicans have opposed in the past.

Senate Democrats intend to bring up the Paycheck Fairness Act for a vote, a Democratic aide confirms to TPM, as first reported by the New York Times.

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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is angling to blame President Obama for the looming failure of his watered-down DREAM Act, and the White House is strongly objecting to that implication, insisting that Rubio's problem is with his own party, not the president.

"The notion that somehow the president or Democrats would be the roadblock to any progress on immigration is ridiculous," a White House official told TPM. "If this proposal fails, the reason will be the Republicans."

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, denied Rubio's charge that the White House has been "actively trying to torpedo my efforts" on a compromise DREAM Act, as Roll Call reported. The aide said the White House would need to see an actual proposal before weighing in.

"We can't speculate on what may or may not be in the proposal. There is no proposal," the official said. "So there's nothing that we can be trying to torpedo."

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House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan laughed off one of his fiercest critics, declaring, "I've always figured I've got 3 certainties in my life: Death, taxes and attacks from Paul Krugman."

Speaking to the New York Times' Jonathan Weisman, he added that the GOP's aim is to "preempt austerity -- we want to prevent that bitter kind of European austerity mode which is what we will have if we have a debt crisis."

Watch the video: 

Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) said Sunday that he supports some principles behind the DREAM Act.

"Some of the concepts are clearly attractive," Barbour said on CBS' Face The Nation. "The fact that people come and serve in the military certainly ought to give them some status in the United States, whether it's that they have the right to stay and to work and long as they pay taxes, as long as they don't break the law. Maybe there should be a different path to citizenship."

The ex-RNC chairman and adviser to the Karl Rove-affiliated Super PAC "American Crossroads" made the remarks as Republicans are working to court Hispanic voters in the 2012 election. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is working on an alternative to the Democrats' version that would include legal status for some undocumented people raised in the U.S., but without the promise of citizenship.

Barbour criticized Democrats for bringing up the DREAM Act during the 2010 lame duck session -- when Republicans blocked it -- and said Hispanic votes are "in play" for the election.

Los Angeles' Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, chair of the Democratic convention later this year, criticized Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-FL) work-in-progress DREAM Act.

"I would support the president's version of the DREAM Act," he said Sunday on CBS' Face The Nation. "I think that Senator Rubio's version of the DREAM Act would create a second class status for folks. And I understand that Speaker Boehner has said that he doesn't expect that that issue will be addressed in this Congress."

Villaraigosa predicted Mitt Romney's stances on immigration would hurt the candidate.

"He said the DREAM Act would be a handout and has campaigned with Kris Kobach, who authored the Arizona and the Alabama laws," Villaraigosa said.

Watch the video, via CBS News.

A battle over how to avert a student loan interest rate hike is breeding political opportunism on both sides of the divide. Republicans are trying to use to occasion to slice off a piece of "Obamacare," and Democrats are turning it into another debate about women's health.

Leaders of both parties want to freeze existing rates on federally-subsidized student loans. House Republicans voted Friday to do so by repealing the health care reform law's currently $10 billion prevention and public health fund. The White House has threatened veto and Democrats are protesting the pay-for.

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White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan said Sunday that President Obama made a "gutsy" call in ordering the raid that killed Osama bin Laden one year ago.

Brennan, trying hard not to get into the politics of the issue, affirmed that the decision was hardly a no-brainer as there were many differences of opinion among top-level officials.

Here's his exchange with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week:

BRENNAN:  I don't do politics.  I don't do the campaign.  I am not a Democrat or Republican.  I'm a counter-terrorism adviser to the president.  All that I know is that the president made the decision when he was given the opportunity to take a gutsy decision, to carry out that raid with our Special Forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan.  The president made that decision.  I think the American people are, you know, clearly very appreciative and supportive of that decision.  We're safer today as a result.  And, therefore, all I know is that the president made the decision when he had to. 

STEPHANOPOULOS:  You said it was a gutsy call.  Mitt Romney has said that any president would have made the same decision.  Do you agree with that? 

BRENNAN:  All I know is that the president made the call when he needed to.  And as people have said, it was a divided room as far as, you know, some of the principal sentiments on this issue were concerned. 

STEPHANOPOULOS:  It's been reported that the vice president, the secretary of defense, the secretary of state all against it, yet the president overrode them. 

BRENNAN:  There was active discussion up until the last moment on this.  And there were differences of view, clearly.

BRENNAN:  All I know is that the president made the call when he needed to.  And as people have said, it was a divided room as far as, you know, some of the principal sentiments on this issue were concerned.  

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