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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.

With the first case of sexual transmission confirmed in the U.S. last week, the White House announced Monday that President Obama will request $1.8 billion in emergency funding to fight Zika at home and abroad. (Associated Press)

White House requests $1.8 billion from Congress to fight Zika virus

The World Health Organization said Monday it wants to fast-track a better test for the Zika virus as dozens of countries cope with yet another scary pandemic, saying doctors on the front lines should at least be able to single out the disease from similar infections in hard-hit Latin America. Published February 8, 2016

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell (center) tours a health insurance enrollment event at Southwest General Hospital in San Antonio on Jan. 29, 2016. Burwell was in San Antonio to encourage residents to enroll in health coverage through the federal marketplace. (Associated Press)

HHS chief says next president should preserve Obamacare's gains

President Obama's top health official said Friday the next administration should push for universal coverage by solidifying Obamacare's gains in taxpayer-subsidized coverage, urging holdout states to expand Medicaid and prodding Congress to revamp U.S. immigration laws. Published February 5, 2016

FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2015 file photo, the website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington. Sunday night is the sign-up deadline for subsidized private health insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care law.  (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Obamacare hits 12.7M customers for 2016, HHS reports

Roughly 12.7 million people have selected plans on Obamacare's exchanges, the administration said Thursday, giving the first comprehensive look at potential enrollment in the third year of the health overhaul. Published February 4, 2016

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., flanked by Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., right, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., left, speaks with reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, as senators returned to work following the snowstorm that crippled the Mid-Atlantic region. (Associated Press) **FILE**

Senate Democrats block energy bill amid Flint standoff

Senate Democrats filibustered a bipartisan energy bill Thursday after Republicans refused to include $300 million in federal aid for Michigan residents afflicted by lead-tainted water in Flint. Published February 4, 2016

Former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli, center, leaves court with his lawyer Benjamin Brafman, left, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in New York. Shkreli, who has become the poster child of pharmaceutical-industry greed after hiking the price of an anti-infection drug by more than 5,000 percent, is scheduled to appear at a congressional hearing on Thursday. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

'Pharma bro' Martin Shkreli rebuffs Congress through silence

Martin Shkreli, the so-called "pharma bro" whose brash style won him few friends before an indictment for securities fraud, refused to answer Congress' questions Thursday about why he jacked up the price of a decades-old drug more than 50-fold. Published February 4, 2016

A bottle of "water from Flint" sits in front of Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich. as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb.  3, 2016, before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing to examine the ongoing situation in Flint, Mich. Flint is under a public health emergency after its drinking water became tainted when the city switched from the Detroit system and began drawing from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money. The city was under state management at the time. (Associated Press) **FILE**

Michigan official apologizes for Flint crisis

Michigan should have acted sooner to correct the Flint water crisis, the state's top environmental official told Congress Wednesday, saying officials got caught up in technical compliance with the law instead of making sure residents had safe drinking water. Published February 3, 2016

David Vitter (Associated Press/File)

Sen. David Vitter reignites 'Obamacare exemption' fight

Sen. David Vitter this week will reignite his one-man crusade to find out how Congress managed to "exempt" itself from Obamacare by keeping an employer subsidy that everyday Americans cannot enjoy under the 2010 health overhaul. Published February 2, 2016

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., talks at a news conference in Rockville, Md., on Monday, March 9, 2015 after announcing endorsements for his candidacy for U.S. Senate.   Van Hollen announced last week he would seek the Senate seat that will be vacated by retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who announced last week she won’t run for re-election in 2016.  (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

Democrats foil GOP repeal of Obamacare

House Democrats sustained President Obama's veto of an Obamacare repeal Tuesday, defeating the GOP's deepest salvo yet against the controversial health law but delivering a rallying cry to conservative Republicans in a pivotal election year. Published February 2, 2016

FILE - In this Dec. 16, 2010 file photo, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Senate approved a long-delayed bill to boost energy efficiency Friday that includes incentives to cut energy use in commercial buildings, manufacturing plants and homes. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg, File)

Democrats tell GOP to disband Planned Parenthood 'witch hunt'

Congressional Democrats on Tuesday told House Speaker Paul D. Ryan to "immediately disband" a taxpayer-funded probe into Planned Parenthood, saying a Texas grand jury's decision to indict the abortion provider's opponents had discredited a select committee tasked with scrutinizing groups that harvest fetal tissue. Published February 2, 2016

A man plays his guitar while he begs for money in front of a closed down business in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, on June 29, 2015. (Associated Press) **FILE**

Congress explores fiscal control board for Puerto Rico

House members and financial experts said Tuesday a "team of neutrals" is needed to oversee Puerto Rico's budget and get its fiscal house in order, as the island scrambles to pay its debts and stave off drastic service cuts to its 3.5 million residents. Published February 2, 2016

Affordable Care Act navigators help guide those looking for insurance during an enrollment event in San Antonio. (Associated Press)

Obamacare enrollment sets record with younger, healthier customers

The administration declared victory for Obamacare on Monday, saying the third year of sign-ups on the health care exchanges went smoothly and set an enrollment record, with customers younger and healthier than they have been in the past. Published February 1, 2016

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks at the Economic Club of Washington on various topics including the Zika virus, Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Congress pushes Obama administration for answers on Zika

Congress asked the Obama administration Monday if it is doing enough to understand and combat the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne agent that is threatening the U.S. from Latin America and has been linked to a serious birth defect. Published February 1, 2016

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican (Associated Press) **FILE**

House majority leader says he isn't sweating the presidential race

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy refused to say Monday what an anti-establishment nominee for president would mean for Republicans hoping to hold their majorities in Congress, insisting that the GOP is poised for a good year no matter who leads them into November. Published February 1, 2016