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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

Sen. Dick Durbin (IL), the No. 2 Democrat, said Sunday that the Senate will hold hearings into the General Services Administration spending scandal.

"We are going to have a hearing as to what actually happened here," Durbin said on NBC's Meet The Press. "It's an absolutely outrageous expenditure of taxpayers' money." He called it "totally unacceptable."

The scandal -- in which government workers spent exorbitantly in Las Vegas on the taxpayer dime -- led to the resignation of the GSA chief and two other officials.

DNC chair and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz doubled down Sunday on the Democrats' accusation that Republicans are waging a "war on women."

"The focus of the Republican Party on turning back the clock for women really is something that's unacceptable and shows how callous and insensitive they are towards women's priorities," she said on CNN's State of the Union.

Wasserman Schultz cited the GOP's anti-abortion push and opposition to various bills such as equal pay for women and access to contraception as evidence that the party's policies are antithetical to women's interests.

DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said it's not fair for Republicans to criticize President Obama for the fact that the stimulus package didn't bring unemployment to below 6 percent, as the White House initially said.

"I don't think that's a legitimate criticism," she said on CNN's State of the Union. "In fact, it succeeded in jumpstarting this economy."

Wasserman Schultz accused Republicans of rooting for economic failure.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, took to Twitter to bash President Obama's remarks in anticipation of a Supreme Court health care decision. 

 

The National Review has fired columnist John Derbyshire after a racially charged article he wrote on another website.

In a Saturday evening post titled "Parting Ways," the magazine's editor Rich Lowry starts off praising Derbyshire's writing skills and proceeds to explain his decision:

His latest provocation, in a webzine, lurches from the politically incorrect to the nasty and indefensible. We never would have published it, but the main reason that people noticed it is that it is by a National Review writer. Derb is effectively using our name to get more oxygen for views with which we’d never associate ourselves otherwise. So there has to be a parting of the ways. Derb has long danced around the line on these issues, but this column is so outlandish it constitutes a kind of letter of resignation. It’s a free country, and Derb can write whatever he wants, wherever he wants. Just not in the pages of NR or NRO, or as someone associated with NR any longer.

In a piece for the website Taki's Magazine, the controversial Derbyshire wrote that "nonblack" Americans tend to have discussions with their children about how to keep themselves safe from black people.

The advice they give, he wrote, includes, "Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods" and "Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks."

Rick Santorum has canceled his Monday events so he can spend the day in the hospital with his daughter Bella.

The statement from campaign spokesperson Hogan Gidley:

"Senator Santorum will not hold any campaign related events on Monday so that he and Karen can remain in the hospital with their daughter Bella. The entire Santorum family is incredibly grateful for the outpouring of prayers and support."

The news was first reported by National Review Online.

Updated post

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on Saturday thanked Virginia residents and public safety officials for their responses to the F-18 crash and said there were no fatalities.

His statement in full:

"We learned this morning that all residents affected by the F-18 crash in Virginia Beach have been accounted for with no fatalities. This amazing news follows the countless acts of bravery and selflessness that we witnessed yesterday. We saw neighbors rushing to the assistance of neighbors, the navy pilots waiting until the very last second to eject, citizens pulling the pilots to safety and treating them, and a successful and efficient coordinated response from first responders, the city and others. In the response to this accident we saw the character of the U.S. Navy, Virginia’s public safety officials and our citizens in action. It was the very best of Virginia on display. Today, we thank all those who so courageously served one another in a moment of need, and we thank God for this Easter miracle."

Senate Democrats are teeing up a vote on the "Buffett Rule" legislation on the eve of Tax Day, and are pledging to push the issue all year as a defining contrast between the parties ahead of the election.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scheduled the cloture vote for April 16, one day before taxes are due, on legislation that would require people making over $1 million to pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes.

"We're going to continue pushing this issue all year long. It's an emerging contrast with Republicans," said No. 3 Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY) on a conference call with reporters Thursday. He said Dems intend to hammer the fact that Republicans want to give even bigger tax cuts to high earners while forcing the middle class to hold the bag.

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Paul Clement, the lawyer for the Republican-led states challenging "Obamacare," played a key role years ago, when representing the Bush White House, in expanding the same federal power that's now the constitutional basis for the health care reform law. Today his clients have different interests, and the 180-degree flip in his reasoning underscores an inconsistency in Republican views of the Constitution.

As the Bush administration's solicitor general in 2004, Clement argued before the Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Raich that Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce is broad enough to override state laws permitting medical marijuana patients to grow cannabis for personal consumption. Notably, two of the justices he won over in the the 6-3 decision were Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia.

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Mitt Romney made a series of claims Wednesday that distort President Obama's positions on Medicare, an indication that he's sticking with an earlier, misleading line of attack as he gets closer to winning the Republican nomination for president.

"I'd be willing to consider the president's plan, but he doesn't have one. That's right: In over three years, he has failed to enact or even propose a serious plan to solve our entitlement crisis," Romney said in a speech to the Newspaper Association of America in Washington, D.C. "Instead, he has taken a series of steps that end Medicare as we know it. He is the only president to ever cut $500 billion from Medicare. And, as a result, more than half of doctors say they will cut back on treating seniors."

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