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

Under fire from the powerful U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for writing a budget that cuts deeply into programs that help the needy, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) defended his vision in a Thursday speech at Georgetown University.

But his remarks were less an attempt to persuade his religious detractors than to undermine them, putting the Catholic Wisconsinite in the uncomfortable position of criticizing a frequent ally.

"I suppose there are some Catholics who for a long time have thought they had a monopoly of sorts," Ryan said. "Not exactly on heaven, but on the social teaching of our church. Of course there can be differences among faithful Catholics on this."

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A lesser-known but important provision in "Obamacare" that regulates how health insurance companies spend their money is yielding benefits for consumers, a new study finds.

By this August, insurers are projected to send consumers a total of $1.3 billion in rebates, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis released Thursday -- $541 million to large employers, $377 million to small businesses and $426 million to people with their own insurance plans.

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The Senate on Thursday passed the Democrats' version of the Violence Against Women Act by a 68-31 margin.

The GOP-led House is set to pass a scaled back version, in which case the two chambers would have to sort out their differences in conference committee.

The Senate is expected to pass the Democrats' "Violence Against Women Act" without major changes Thursday, according to a senior Democratic aide.

The chamber will vote on a four amendments -- two Republican, two Democratic, with one hour of debate for each -- prior to a final vote on the legislation.

In their ongoing push to close the gender gap, Republicans are dispatching their 2008 presidential nominee to blunt the accusation that they're waging a "war on women." Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) lit into his Democratic colleagues Thursday for lobbing the charge, calling it "imaginary" and "phony."

"My friends, this supposed 'war on women' or the use of similarly outlandish rhetoric by partisan operatives has two purposes, and both are purely political in their purpose and effect," McCain said on the Senate floor, according to prepared remarks. "The first is to distract citizens from real issues that really matter and the second is to give talking heads something to sputter about when they appear on cable television."

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Sensing that Democrats have them cornered on an issue central to a key voting bloc, Republicans are choosing to fight fire with fire.

The House GOP unveiled a dueling version of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization on Wednesday, setting up a confrontation with Senate Democrats who are poised to pass a measure that would extend the law's protections to Native Americans, gays and undocumented immigrants.

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In his fervent defense Wednesday of Arizona's right to crack down on illegal immigration, Justice Antonin Scalia likened immigration enforcement to crackdowns on bank robbers.

"What's wrong about the states enforcing federal law?" Scalia said during his aggressive questioning of U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. "There is a federal law against robbing federal banks. Can it be made a state crime to rob those banks? I think it is."

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By the end of Wednesday's Supreme Court oral arguments on the constitutionality of Arizona's immigration law, there was renewed hope for the law's backers that at least some aspects of it might survive, although no clear majority emerged one way or another.

Justice Antonin Scalia led the charge among justices inclined to agree with Arizona. He passionately argued that the Constitution provides states the authority to craft immigration policy to protect their borders -- an argument at odds with longstanding precedent.

"What does sovereignty mean if it does not include the ability to defend your borders? The states can police their borders," Scalia said, suggesting that the White House opposes the law because it "does not want [immigration] law enforced rigorously."

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The Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday morning on the Arizona law and whether key provisions pass constitutional muster. No clear majority emerged one way or another. It appeared possible that the court will strike down some aspects of the law while upholding others.

Arguing the case for the U.S. was Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, and for Arizona lawyer Paul Clement -- a rematch after the two faced off weeks ago before the high court on health care arguments. Clement again outshone his opponent.