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

As expected, Senate Republicans on Monday blocked a vote on the DISCLOSE Act, a Democratic-led bill aimed at enhancing transparency in campaign contributions.

The cloture motion went down by a 51-44 margin, falling 9 votes short of the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome the GOP filibuster.

Republicans are pouncing on the Obama administration's directive to grant states more flexibility with implementing welfare reform, accusing the president of "gutting" a central pillar of the 1996 law that ended welfare as an entitlement.

The reality of the president's move is not so simple.

The law, a product of painstaking negotiations between President Clinton and the Gingrich-led Republican Congress, slapped time limits and workforce participation requirements as eligibility criteria for welfare recipients. Despite fierce early protests from progressives, the law went on to be heralded across the spectrum for the reduction in welfare caseloads and poverty that followed, although it hit the poor hard in the wake of the Great Recession.

Last Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it would grant states waivers from work requirements under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program, in order to let them "test alternative and innovative strategies, policies, and procedures that are designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families."

The move rankled conservative intellectuals, who questioned its legality and lamented that it leaves the law toothless. Top Republicans and their presidential nominee Mitt Romney reflected that anger, accusing Obama of wanting to make people dependent on government handouts.

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President Obama defended his campaign's fierce attacks on Mitt Romney's history with Bain Capital, declining his Republican opponent's demand for an apology.

"No, we will not apologize," Obama said in an interview with WAVY-TV in Portsmouth, Virginia, the AP reports.

"Mr. Romney claims he's Mr. Fix-It for the economy because of his business experience, so I think voters entirely legitimately want to know what is exactly his business experience," he said. "Mr. Romney is now claiming he wasn't there at the time except his filings with the SEC listing says he was the CEO, chairman and president of the company."

President Obama's fierce attacks on Mitt Romney's history with Bain Capital hit a nerve with Karl Rove, who on "Fox News Sunday" simultaneously lashed out at the president and advised him to stop making one of his most explosive allegations: that Romney may be a felon.

Rove, the architect of President George W. Bush's presidential victories, now runs the pro-Republican super PAC American Crossroads, which is spending heavily to help Romney defeat Obama. He took issue with the Obama campaign's suggestion that Romney's SEC disclosure forms -- in which Romney described himself as managing director at Bain beyond 1999, contrary to his claim that he left that year -- could make him guilty of a felony.

"The fact of the matter is that if the president continues to make this charge -- this outrageous charge that his campaign had that Mitt Romney is guilty of felonious activity, could've committed a felony -- that's a big mistake," Rove said, predicting the line of attack won't help Obama with independent voters.

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Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) on Sunday accused Mitt Romney of seeking to dodge accountability for Bain Capital.

"Why is Mitt Romney running away from his company, Bain Capital, like a scalded cat?" Durbin said on NBC's "Meet The Press." "Because there's abundant evidence that under Bain Capital, they were exporting American jobs to low wage countries. And he doesn't want to be associated with it."

"Mitt Romney can clear the air this afternoon on this whole issue by making a more complete disclosure of economic information."

On Fox News Sunday, conservative Bill Kristol called on Mitt Romney to be proud of his achievements at Bain and release up to 10 years of his tax returns.

"Here's what he should do. He should release the tax returns tomorrow," Kristol said. "In this craze, you've got to release 6, 8, 10 years of back tax returns. Take the hit for a day or two."

Karl Rove said on Fox News Sunday that Mitt Romney isn't doing enough to explain to voters what he'll do if elected president.

"One of the best ways to define yourself is describe what it is you'll do," he said. "The more he describes now what it is he will do when he becomes president..."

Guest host Brit Hume interrupted and asked if Romney's doing that enough, and Rove said, "I don't think he is."

Republican strategist Karl Rove on Fox News Sunday advised the Obama campaign to stop suggesting that Mitt Romney may be a felon over allegedly inaccurate statements he made on his SEC forms regarding Bain.

"The fact of the matter is that if the president continues to make this charge -- this outrageous charge that his campaign had that Mitt Romney is guilty of felonious activity, could've committed a felony -- that's a big mistake," Rove said. "Remember who's up for grabs in this election: independent voters."

Rove, who runs the GOP super PAC American Crossroads, said independents were drawn to Obama's promise to transcend politics as usual in 2008 and predicted the felony charge won't work with them. "This is gutter politics of the worst Chicago sort," he said.

Democratic consultant Joe Trippi said Sunday he's shocked at how "unready" and "flat-footed" Mitt Romney has been for the tough Bain attacks from President Obama.

"My own view is I think this is really hurting Romney right now," Trippi said, arguing that he needs to proactively release evidence debunking the charges of him continuing to work at Bain beyond 1999, such as minutes from the company's meetings.

He conceded that it's too early to know whether the attacks will work, but  that "as somebody who's been in a presidential campaign you can't let this stuff go unanswered. You've got to put the proof and the facts out there, and it didn't seem like they were ready to do that."