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Tom Howell Jr.

Tom Howell Jr.

Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

Articles by Tom Howell Jr.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who was the GOP's 2012 vice presidential nominee but took a pass on this year's presidential contest, said Republican infighting plays into the hands of President Obama, who exploits those fights to pursue his own agenda. (Associated Press)

Speaker Paul Ryan pitches grand 2016 vision that's short on details

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Friday his troops will offer voters a clear, conservative agenda before they vote in November, though he failed to outline concrete goals for 2016 after a three-day retreat in Baltimore that's been dominated by talk of the raucous GOP nominating race for president. Published January 15, 2016

In this file photo taken on Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014, health care workers load a man suspected of suffering from the Ebola virus onto an ambulance in Kenema, Sierra Leone. A corpse has tested positive for Ebola in Sierra Leone, an official said Friday, Jan. 15, 2016, the day after the World Health Organization declared the outbreak over in West Africa. (AP Photo/ Tanya Bindra,File)

Sierra Leone reports new Ebola case

Officials have confirmed a new case of Ebola in Sierra Leone, delivering a remarkable -- although predicted -- setback for West Africa just one day after world health officials declared an end to the two-year outbreak that killed more than 11,000 in the region. Published January 15, 2016

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, joined by Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., right, appears on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, before the House Rules Committee. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) ** FILE **

GOP chairmen threaten subpoena over Obamacare standoff

Two powerful Republicans threatened Friday to subpoena the Obama administration unless it explains by Jan. 28 why it is funding an obscure program under Obamacare without explicit approval from Congress. Published January 15, 2016

House Speaker Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 12, 2016. (Associated Press) **FILE**

Speaker Paul Ryan touts an 'inspiring' 2016

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell looked beyond the GOP's bitter presidential race Thursday and said they plan to offer a constructive agenda for voters who'll have the final say in November's general election. Published January 14, 2016

House GOP Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office at the U.S. Capitol, on Tuesday, March 24, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Steve Scalise: House plans 'bold vision' despite 2016 contests

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise said Thursday his chamber will forge ahead with spending bills and other initiatives in the coming year, even though the November elections will shorten the legislative calendar and it's unclear how often Senate Democrats will flex their power to block what they don't like. Published January 14, 2016

The Senate Republican leadership (from left) Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn of Texas,  gather before a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016.  President Barack Obama delivers his final State of the Union address before Congress tonight, where both the Senate and the House are controlled by Republicans opposed to his policies. (Associated Press) **FILE**

Congressional GOP preps for post-Obama era at annual retreat

Agreeing with President Obama's low expectations for Congress this year, GOP leaders cast their eye farther afield Thursday, saying they wanted to use the upcoming months to define the kinds of big philosophical choices voters will make in November's elections. Published January 14, 2016

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signs an executive order in Baton Rouge on his first full day in office Tuesday, starting the process for expanding Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care law. (Associated Press)

Obama wants to reset clock on Medicaid expansion

President Obama wants to sweeten the deal for 19 states that have refused to expand their Medicaid programs under Obamacare, saying Congress should reset the clock on generous federal matching funds that were set to wind down after this year. Published January 14, 2016

President Barack Obama waves at the conclusion of his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

Obamacare penalty fee increasing sharply in 2016

The Obamacare tax is set to hit particularly hard this year, and federal and state officials are hoping the threat of a $1,000 tax bill will finally be enough to prod reluctant Americans to sign up for the president's controversial health law. Published January 13, 2016

FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2015, file photo, the HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington. A major survey out Jan. 7, 2016, finds that progress has stalled on reducing the number of uninsured Americans under President Barack Obama’s health care law. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

HHS reports slight uptick in HealthCare.gov signups

About 8.7 million customers had selected a plan on the federal HealthCare.gov exchange as of Jan. 9, according to a government update Wednesday that showed only a slight uptick in consumer interest between crucial deadlines to get covered under Obamacare in 2016. Published January 13, 2016

President Obama's final year in office will be momentous for his signature health care law. (Associated Press/File)

Obama defends health care law as Republicans look for repeal

President Obama used his final State of the Union address Tuesday to defend his signature health care law ahead of a momentous year for Obamacare, with just 12 months for him to address rising premiums, faltering health care plans and public doubt about the reforms. Published January 12, 2016

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016, about his 2016 agenda. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) ** FILE **

Members of Congress ask Supreme Court to shield religious groups from Obamacare

More than 200 members of Congress asked the Supreme Court Monday to protect faith-based colleges, charities and other nonprofits from Obamacare's birth control rules, citing an American track record of religious liberty that extends from the Pilgrims' landing in Massachusetts to a 1993 law designed to protect the faithful from government mandates. Published January 11, 2016

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 7, 2016, about his 2016 agenda and GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act. (Associated Press) **FILE**

Paul Ryan invites nuns fighting Obamacare mandate to SOTU

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan has invited a group of nuns fighting Obamacare's "contraception mandate" to be among his honored guests Tuesday at President Obama's final State of the Union address to Congress. Published January 11, 2016

This image made from video released by the U.S. Navy on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016 shows the view from a Seahawk helicopter in the Strait of Hormuz on Dec. 26, 2015. The U.S. Navy says the video shows a rocket fired from an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel near warships and commercial traffic in the strategic strait. What appears to be an oil tanker is seen in the foreground. Previously an Iranian Revolutionary Guard spokesman had denied conducting any naval drills at the time and called the American accusations "psychological warfare." (U.S. Navy via AP)

Democratic lawmakers lose patience as Obama hesitates to punish Iran for missile tests

Sen. Christopher A. Coons added his voice Monday to a chorus of other Democrats who have called on the Obama administration to quit waffling and punish Iran for testing a pair of ballistic missiles this fall, flouting international sanctions even as Tehran began to implement the nuclear deal it struck with the U.S. and other leading nations. Published January 11, 2016

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat. (Associated Press)

Senate still sluggish despite big bipartisan deals, Times legislative futility index finds

Congress began to pull out of the legislative doldrums last year but still has a long way to go before it returns to full health and the kind of freewheeling legislative action of previous decades, according to The Washington Times Legislative Futility Index, which found that despite some big bipartisan deals, the Senate remains a major stumbling block to passing bills. Published January 10, 2016

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas speaks during a town hall at Praise Community Church in Mason City, Iowa, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Ted Cruz leads in Iowa as 'birther' talk intensifies

Businessman Donald Trump on Sunday said he's got the momentum to win the GOP presidential nomination regardless of whether he finishes first in Iowa and again questioned his top rival's eligibility for the office. Published January 10, 2016