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

Two days before Super Tuesday, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are in a statistical tie among GOP voters in the important Ohio primary, according to a new NBC News/Marist poll.

Santorum had 34 percent, while Romney had 32 percent.

The poll, conducted between Feb. 29-March 2, featured 820 likely GOP primary voters in Ohio and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

The TPM Poll Average has Santorum up by 5 points:

Top Eric Cantor aide Brad Dayspring confirmed on Twitter that he's leaving the Majority Leader's office to work for a Super PAC aimed at boosting House Republicans.

Dayspring, whose unexpected departure was first reported by Politico, declared as "accurate" a National Journal article by Reid Wilson that revealed his next move.

He will leave to join a super PAC aimed at raising and spending money for House Republican candidates, National Journal has learned. ...

"It is with great enthusiasm that we're adding Brad Dayspring as a senior adviser to our team," said John Murray, Cantor's former communications director who now runs the super PAC. "When Young Guns was formed it was designed to help leaders like Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy chart a new course for the center-right movement and the House majority. Brad's years of work both on capitol hill and in the campaign world are a perfect blend to help take us to the next level."

Cantor's office emailed TPM this statement from chief of staff Steve Stombres:

"We would like to announce that our Deputy Chief of Staff Brad Dayspring has resigned to pursue other opportunities. Brad will be missed and we wish Brad all the best luck in his future endeavors.  He was a valued employee and did an outstanding job defining and defending our Republican Majority."


Brad Dayspring, a top aide to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), unexpectedly resigned on Friday, according to Politico.

Jake Sherman, Jonathan Allen and Anna Palmer report:

It’s a surprising departure. Dayspring was one of Cantor’s most trusted aides, and an outsized presence in a House Republican Conference full of personalities.

“Brad has decided to move on,” Cantor Chief of Staff Steve Stombres told POLITICO. “He has been a valuable member of our team and I wish him nothing but the best.”

Dayspring, who has led Cantor's communications operation and was recently promoted to deputy chief of staff, did not immediately return a request for comment.

In July 2009, Mitt Romney called on President Obama to require Americans to buy insurance as part of his health care plan, using "tax penalties" as a backstop -- in other words, the individual mandate that Republicans virulently oppose.

In a USA Today op-ed titled "Mr. President, what's the rush?," which is also available on MittRomneyCentral.com, Romney urged Obama to "learn a thing or two about health care reform" from his Massachusetts plan that contained the same policy, and touted it as effective.

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Unperturbed after Senate Democrats blocked their effort to let employer health plans refuse to cover birth control and other preventive services, Republican leaders are vowing to keep up the fight after the vote. And Democrats are more than happy to let them -- all the way up until the November elections.

"This fight is not over," said Senate GOP Conference Vice Chair Roy Blunt (R-MO), the author of the amendment that was tabled 51-48 on Thursday. "I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers of Congress to protect the rights that make our nation great."

Though many Republicans would like to give the issue a rest, fearing voter backlash, the GOP can't easily soft-peddle in this culture war conflagration. And that was clear today on both sides of the Capitol.

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Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Thursday in favor of a measure that would permit any employer to deny services in their health plan, such as birth control, that they deem morally objectionable. The amendment offered by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) was struck down 51-48 in a motion to table, thanks to virulent opposition by Democrats and one GOP holdout. Democrats are eager to hang the vote around the GOP's neck in the upcoming elections.

The only Republican who crossed over to help kill the measure, which was aimed at repealing the Obama administration's birth control mandate, was retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe (ME). Dems are defending 23 Senate seats in the November elections, and running against a GOP they can portray as anti-birth control could help them in some tough races. Democrats are salivating at the prospect of using the votes of vulnerable members, including GOP Sens. Scott Brown (MA) and Dean Heller (NV), against them this year.

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The Obama administration's health secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Thursday that she's confident the final birth control rule will include an acceptable religious accommodation for self-insured plans, an important wrinkle in the adjusted rule.

Sebelius made her remarks at a House Energy & Commerce health subcommittee hearing, as reported by The Hill's Julian Pecquet.

"There are a variety of arrangements already in place in the 28 states that have this law already in place and we intend to be informed by that when we propose the rules," she said. "Whether it's through a third-party administrator or … a side-by-side plan or many other arrangements, we will offer a variety of strategies to make sure that religious liberties are respected."

The Democratic-led Senate voted on Thursday to table the Blunt amendment aimed at rolling back the Obama administration's birth control mandate. The tally was 51-48 to strike it down.

Soon before the vote, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) announced on the floor that she will vote for the Blunt amendment aimed at rolling back the Obama administration's birth control mandate.

"I do this with a lot of conflict, because I think the amendment does have its flaws, but when the administration cannot even assure me that self-insured faith-based organizations' religious freedoms are protected I feel I have no choice," Collins said. "I hope that the amendment will be refined."