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

Republican anger over President Obama's directive to grant states flexibility on implementing welfare reform has hit the campaign trail, and the White House is offering rankled Republicans a response: Get over it -- your own party's leaders, including Romney himself, asked for those waivers.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote a letter to Republicans (PDF) reminding them of their party's own prior support for state leniency in implementing welfare reform. She argued that in 2005, Republican governors wanted even more flexibility than Obama is now willing to grant.

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Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) is attacking his challenger Denny Rehberg for the Montana congressman's role in reviving the contraception wars from earlier this spring, seeking to make it a campaign issue.

Rehberg, the chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee on health, voted to advance legislation Wednesday that includes a provision repealing President Obama's requirement that employer-provided health insurance plans offer birth control to female employees without co-pays. It passed the Rehberg-led panel on a party line vote.

"All women should have access to basic health care services, but Congressman Dennis Rehberg keeps trying to take it away," Dayna Swanson, Tester's deputy campaign manager, told TPM in a statement. "His priority is to protect tax breaks for fellow millionaires instead. Montana women cannot afford Congressman Rehberg's irresponsible decisions in the Senate."

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Justice Antonin Scalia denies that he has personally clashed with Chief Justice John Roberts over his decision to save the Affordable Care Act in a 5-4 vote.

"No, I haven't had a falling out with Justice Roberts," he told Piers Morgan in a CNN interview that aired Wednesday night. "Nothing like that."

Leaks from within the Supreme Court after the contentious decision suggest the other four conservative justices -- who co-wrote a dissenting opinion to invalidate 'Obamacare' in its entirety -- expected Roberts to be on their side. The anonymous leakers say Roberts switched his vote and left the conservatives feeling betrayed when he opted to side with the four liberals and uphold the individual mandate under Congress's taxing power.

Scalia's reaction? The leakers are full of it.

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They're back!

This spring's political contretemps over access to contraception are returning to Capitol Hill -- and this time Republicans are trying to tie the issue to must-pass legislation, foreshadowing a possible government shutdown standoff unless conservatives back down and temporarily agree to set aside earlier grievances.

House Republicans renewed their effort Wednesday by advancing a measure through the Labor-HHS appropriations subcommittee with a rider to roll back President Obama's contraception mandate. Authorized by the Affordable Care Act, the rule requires employer-provided health insurance plans to cover contraception without co-pays, with carve-outs for churches and religious non-profits. Republicans on the panel defeated a Democratic amendment to strip the provision, suggesting they're willing to pick the fight.

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Conservatives fear that President Obama's wave of attacks on Mitt Romney's business record and tax returns are succeeding at defining the Republican nominee. A key reason this is working, they say, is that Romney has failed to define himself -- and his tax platform offers a compelling window into this phenomenon.

If only Romney emulated the conservative candidate they've long yearned for, they argue, he could insulate himself from attacks on his business record, unreleased tax returns, and anything else Obama might throw his way.

At a glance, these might appear to be unrelated issues. What do Romney's personal finances and private sector career have to do with his social and economic policy bona fides?

Directly, very little. But an obvious tension between Romney's desire to appeal to conservative power players without alienating the middle- and working-class voters he needs to win in November underscores their point. if he can't rebut attacks on his business career and his finances, and he can't tout his key gubernatorial achievement 'Romneycare', he ought to have at least one issue to champion. Yet even when it comes to the right's top issue -- taxes -- Romney's hedging has left him friendless; middle class voters see him championing tax breaks for the wealthy, and conservatives aren't sure he'll follow through on their goals of forcing major cuts to the safety net and other domestic programs, while preventing significant cuts to defense spending.

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Democrats are continuing their all-out assault on Mitt Romney's finances by pushing legislation in the Senate to require candidates for federal office to disclose financial stakes in a foreign tax haven.

On Wednesday, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) took to the floor to talk up the Financial Disclosure to Reduce Tax Haven Abuse Act, which was introduced in March. It would force candidates and their spouses to file a disclosure form listing the identity, value and location of finances held in jurisdiction deemed a tax haven by the U.S. treasury, such as the Cayman Islands and Switzerland. Current law does not require such disclosure.

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