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

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) released a statement Sunday in honor of Memorial Day.

"Memorial Day is an important opportunity to thank our brave men and women in uniform and pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives defending our country. It is their sacrifice that has kept America strong and reminds us that we must remain vigilant to protect our freedom. Last weekend, I was proud to honor our troops and their families at the first-ever Welcome Home Our Heroes parade in Richmond. The community came together to show our appreciation for our veterans and make sure they receive the care and support they need, and today we come together as a nation in that same spirit."

Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) said Sunday that the DNC is putting considerable resources in the race to help Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett defeat Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin.

We have "put our considerable grassroots resources behind him -- all of the Obama For America and state party resources," she told CNN's State of the Union. "Our grassroots network is fully engaged."

As a result, she said, Barrett has a "real opportunity to win."

The DNC has faced criticism from Wisconsin Democrats for not investing enough in the race, which progressives and conservatives believe could have important national implications.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Sunday brushed off Mitt Romney's criticism of Obama administration policy on Afghanistan, dismissing it as "campaign rhetoric."

Here's the exchange between Panetta and Jake Tapper on ABC's "This Week."

JAKE TAPPER: Mitt Romney’s had this to say about the president’s Afghan strategy and the date certain.


FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You just scratch your head and say how can you be so misguided?  And so naïve?  His secretary of defense said that on a date certain, the middle of 2013, we’re going to pull out our combat troops from Afghanistan. Why in the world do you go to the people that you’re fighting with and tell them the day you’re pulling out your troops?  


TAPPER:  Now, first of all, there’s a factual error that Mr. Romney made that I’m sure you want to correct, but the larger point about giving a date certain for the withdrawal or the end of the combat mission, could you address that as well after you correct him?


PANETTA:  Well, Okay.  You know, I think without getting into the campaign rhetoric of what he’s asserting, I think you’ve got 50 nations in NATO that agree to a plan in Afghanistan.  It’s the Lisbon agreement, an agreement that, you know, others, President Bush, President Obama, everyone has agreed is the direction that we go in in Afghanistan.

What is that direction?  It’s to take us to a point where we draw down by the end of 2014.  

That is the plan that has been agreed to.  And it’s a plan that is working.

And very frankly, the only way to get this accomplished in terms of the transition that we have to go through is to be able to set the kind of timelines that have been set here in order to ensure that we fulfill the mission of an Afghanistan that governs and secures itself.  That’s what this is about.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a Sunday interview that he's perplexed Pakistan would punish the doctor who helped the U.S. find Osama bin Laden.

Here's the exchange between Panetta and ABC's Jake Tapper on ABC's "This Week."

PANETTA:  It’s - it is so difficult to understand and it’s so disturbing that they would sentence this doctor to 33 years for helping in the search for the most notorious terrorist in our times.  This doctor was not working against Pakistan.

He was working against Al Qaeda.  And I hope that ultimately Pakistan understands that, because what they have done here, I think, you know, does not help in the effort to try to reestablish a relationship between the United States and Pakistan.

TAPPER:  Secretary Panetta, can we call Pakistan an ally when they do something like this, when they sentence a doctor who helps the United States find bin Laden, who has killed more Muslims than I can count?  How can we call them an ally when they sentence this guy to prison? 

PANETTA:  Well, Jake, this has been one of the most complicated relationships that we’ve had, working with Pakistan.  You know, we have to continue to work at it.  It is important.  This is a country that has - that has nuclear weapons.

This is a country that still is critical in that region of the world.  It’s an up-and-down relationship.  There have been periods where we’ve had good cooperation and they have worked with us.

And there have been periods where we’ve had conflict.  But they’re dealing with the terrorist threat just like we are.

So our responsibility here is to keep pushing them to understand how important it is for them to work with us to try to deal with the common threats we both face.  And what they did with this doctor doesn’t help in the effort to try to do that.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has issued a statement in observance of Memorial Day.

“There’s a tradition unique to Memorial Day that calls for lowering the flag to half-staff until noon, and then returning it to full-staff. This is a fitting tribute to our fallen countrymen, and to who we are as a people, how we pause to remember and then forge ahead.

“Our nation has paid a high price to preserve freedom, and our servicemembers and military families have paid the highest price of all. No tribute to these sacrifices is more enduring than a grateful nation determined to live out the promise of liberty. So let us all do our part this Memorial Day – whether it’s standing in silence, whispering a prayer, or simply saying ‘thank you’ – to honor those who did their duty.

“Thank God for our heroes. May a piece of each of them live on in all of us."

After an aggressive rebuke from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Thursday, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist told TPM that he never actually compared the senator's legislation to actions taken by the Nazis.

"My criticism of our friend Mr. Schumer was that his bill was similar to the German legislation from the '30s," Norquist said in a phone interview. "He's the guy who yelled Nazi. I didn't say Nazi. I didn't say National Socialist."

The Nazi analogy was characterized in a story by The Hill last Saturday, after Norquist told the paper of Schumer's citizenship tax-dodging bill: "I think Schumer can probably find the legislation to do this. It existed in Germany in the 1930s and Rhodesia in the '70s and in South Africa as well. He probably just plagiarized it and translated it from the original German."

Norquist, the president of Americans For Tax Reform, says his reference was to a 1931 law instituted by the pre-Nazi Centre Party, which imposed an exit tax on those who fled Germany. The Nazis continued to implement the law.

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Moments before the Senate rejected a drug reimportation measure for the umpteenth time, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Thursday accused the drug industry of exerting its influence at the expense of low-income Americans.

"In a normal world this would probably require a voice vote. But what we're about to see is the incredible influence of the special interests, particularly PhRMA," McCain said. "What you're about to see is the reason for the cynicism that the American people have about the way we do business here in Washington. PhRMA, one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, will exert its influence again at the expense of low-income Americans who will again have to choose between medication and eating."

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Sen. Chuck Schumer issued a fiery rebuke Thursday to conservatives who have criticized his legislation, inspired by Facebook's Eduardo Saverin, aimed at cracking down on Americans who renounce their citizenship to duck taxes.

The New York Democrat took to the Senate floor to declare he's "appalled" that conservatives would "rush to the defense of a man who is turning his back on America." He said he's seen a "torrent of vitriol" in response to his bill, calling the nature of the pushback "absurd," "off the deep end," "baffling" and "odious."

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The Senate voted 96-1 on Thursday to re-authorize the 1993 Prescription Drug User Fee Act, averting a downsizing of the FDA that could lengthen the approval process for getting important drugs and medical devices on the market.

PDUFA permits drug companies to provide funding for FDA resources to review and approve medications. The policy currently provides for a large portion of the agency's budget for such activities. 

Senators heralded the rare bipartisan spirit with which the bill sailed through the chamber. The only no-vote was Sen. Bernie Sander (I-VT). Partner legislation is expected to pass the House soon.

Senate Democrats are advancing legislation to beef up equal pay protections for women, the latest salvo in the election-year battle for women voters.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is set to file cloture Thursday on the Paycheck Protection Act, which would strengthen protections for women who sue for pay discrimination. The move puts Republicans in an uncomfortable position as they work to repair their weak brand image with women voters ahead of the November election.

Five female Democratic senators talked up the bill Wednesday afternoon during a Capitol briefing -- and made clear they intend to hammer Republicans as anti-women if they stand in its way.

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