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Tom Howell Jr.

Tom Howell Jr.

Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at

Articles by Tom Howell Jr.

"Our work today and in the coming weeks will show hardworking taxpayers that Congress is committed to a government that's more effective and more accountable," said Sen. Mike Enzi, Wyoming Republican. (Associated Press)

House, Senate closer to smoothing budget differences

The House and Senate began to smooth out their differences Monday over federal spending in 2016 and beyond, paving the way for showdowns between majority Republicans and President Obama over Obamacare, whether to slash health and welfare programs instead of raising taxes, and how to bolster the Pentagon without running afoul of spending caps the lawmakers agreed to years ago. Published April 20, 2015

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, suggested that as an oil-rich country, Iran does not seek uranium enrichment capability for energy, but rather for military might. (Associated Press)

Marco Rubio steps up rhetoric in Iran

Sen. Marco Rubio polished off his first week as a 2016 candidate Sunday by saying Iran could face war unless it abandons all hope of developing a nuclear bomb, offering a dose of tough talk days after congressional Democrats struck a deal with Republicans to give Congress a say over an emerging deal between the Islamic Republic and the White House. Published April 19, 2015

Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, says he'll try to force the Senate to vote on a bill halting the subsidy that lawmakers and their staffs get to pay for insurance on the Obamacare exchanges, saying that's a benefit no other American receives, so Congress shouldn't either. (Associated Press)

GOP senator wants to subpoena D.C. health care exchange

Republican Sen. David Vitter will ask his Senate committee next week to authorize a subpoena against the D.C. health exchange, turning up the heat in his lengthy quest to find out who allowed Congress to use the city's small-business Obamacare portal. Published April 17, 2015

This Wednesday, April 23, 2014, photo shows electronic cigarettes and accessories displayed at a store in Chicago. For the first time, a government survey released on Thursday, April 16, 2015, says U.S. teen cigarette smoking fell below 10 percent, but dramatic increases in teens puffing electronic cigarettes and hookahs offset the use of traditional nicotine products like cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and chewing tobacco. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Teen smoking fell as e-cigarette use boomed: CDC

Teenage use of e-cigarettes tripled from 2013 to 2014, according to a government study released Thursday that says use of electronic butts among middle and high school students now outpaces conventional cigarettes or any other tobacco product. Published April 16, 2015

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, followed by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., leaves a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, following a GOP strategy meeting. In a direct challenge to the White House, a Senate committee pushed toward a vote on a bill that would give Congress a chance to weigh in on any final nuclear agreement that can be reached with Iran. The top Republican leaders in the House and Senate insisted on Tuesday that lawmakers have a say. Boehner said "Congress should absolutely have the opportunity to review this deal," telling reporters. "The administration appears to want a deal at any cost."  (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Senate votes to negotiate final, GOP-driven budget with House

The Republican-led Senate voted Wednesday to enter final budget talks with allies in the House, clearing the way for a plan that seeks balance within a decade while cuing up a coveted path to repealing Obamacare. Published April 15, 2015

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)  Commissioner John Koskinen testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 15, 2015, before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing to examine IRS challenges in implementing the Affordable Care Act. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

IRS commish: Tax season 'better than anticipated' this year, despite Obamacare horror tales

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told Congress Wednesday that Obamacare's first dance with tax season has gone relatively smoothly and will only get better in coming years, despite horror stories about erroneous forms, surprisingly high tax penalties and faulty income estimates that forced some to pay back health-exchange subsidies. Published April 15, 2015

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Ky. speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, following a Senate policy luncheon.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Senate passes Medicare overhaul, ending 'doc fix' ritual

The Senate rallied late Tuesday to pass a landmark Medicare overhaul that locks in doctors' rates while requiring wealthier seniors to pay more, erasing an awkward ritual in which Congress ignored scheduled provider cuts each year without funding a permanent fix. Published April 14, 2015