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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.

**FILE** Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican (Associated Press)

Israeli airstrikes on Syria put Obama at the crossroads

As Israeli planes hit targets in Syria for the second time in three days, some Republicans on Sunday ramped up their calls for President Obama to take stronger measures against the Assad regime — but the White House response was muted. Published May 5, 2013

Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. (NARAL)

Birth control stances test Obama's liberal base

The debate over minors' access to contraceptives is testing the loyalty of groups traditionally among the biggest supporters of President Obama, who said Thursday he is "comfortable" with his administration's efforts to find a middle ground on the issue. Published May 2, 2013

**FILE** Teva Women's Health packaging for Plan B One-Step (levonorgestrel) tablet, one of the brands known as the "morning-after pill" (Associated Press)

Obama administration to appeal Plan B contraception age limit

The Obama administration, under massive pressure from both sides of the culture war over contraception, has decided to appeal a federal court’s order to make a morning-after pill available to everyone without a prescription, just a day after expanding access to the pills for younger teenage girls. Published May 1, 2013

**FILE** Supporters of health care reform rally March 28, 2012, in front of the Supreme Court in Washington. (Associated Press)

Obama admits challenges but doubles down on 'Obamacare'

President Obama on Tuesday vowed that his health care law will be a success for both insured and soon-to-be-covered Americans, even though it is a "big, complicated piece of business" facing ceaseless criticism on Capitol Hill and roadblocks to implementation in Republican-led states. Published April 30, 2013

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, is "closely monitoring" proposed health insurance plan rates before the "Obamacare" exchanges kick in 2014.

'Obamacare' opponents checking for 'rate shock'

Opponents of President Obama's health care law are eagerly scouring the paperwork insurers file with states, looking for early evidence of "rate shock" — rising prices ahead of full implementation of the state "exchanges" that begin next year. Published April 29, 2013

**FILE** Lee Medina, an employee at Dan D Party Corner in Cheyenne, Wyo., stands near a close-to-empty helium tank used to fill balloons on Sept. 22, 2011. (Associated Press)

House votes to avert a worldwide helium shortage

The House overwhelmingly passed legislation on Friday to sell off helium from a federal reserve in Texas while demanding a fair price for it, a seemingly arcane bill that exposed a global shortage of the second-most abundant element in the universe. Published April 26, 2013

Rep. Andy Harris, Maryland Republican, asked Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about a provision in the federal health care law mandating contraception coverage. (Associated Press)

Sebelius visits Capitol Hill to stop health care law 'train wreck'

President Obama's top health official tried Thursday to stanch Republican lawmakers' complaints about the federal health care law amid growing concerns from both sides of the aisle that the administration is facing a "train wreck" as it prepares to go live with key parts of the system next year. Published April 25, 2013

**FILE** Rep. Dan Benishek, Michigan Republican (Associated Press)

House GOP: Influx of vets for 'Obamacare' may overwhelm VA

House Republicans said Wednesday that the Veterans Affairs Department may not be ready to handle hundreds of thousands of veterans who may sign up for health benefits next year to meet the new individual mandate under President Obama's health-care law. Published April 24, 2013

**FILE** Rep. Michael Burgess, Texas Republican, is seen March 25, 2010, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Associated Press)

House GOP leaders scrap health care bill amid conservative backlash

Facing another conservative rebellion, House Republican leaders Wednesday scratched votes on a bill that would have cut one part of President Obama's health care law in order to prop up another section providing coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. Published April 24, 2013

Senate panel backs Tavenner to run Medicare and Medicaid

The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday approved President Obama's pick to lead the federal agency that runs Medicare and Medicaid, giving her a bipartisan boost amid the fiery debate over health care and entitlement spending. Published April 23, 2013

**FILE** A woman smokes a cigarette at her home in Alabama on March 2, 2013. (Associated Press)

Smokers cloud states' rollout of 'Obamacare'

States are wrestling with how to treat smokers under the new health care law as they navigate the thorny issue of providing coverage for those who knowingly engage in harmful behavior and how much taxpayers should pay for those folks' choices. Published April 22, 2013

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (Associated Press)

NYC bill would raise smoking age to 21

New York City could become the first place in America to put restrictions on smoking in line with drinking laws by raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products. Published April 22, 2013