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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.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, waits Feb. 12, 2013, on Capitol Hill to make a statement in opposition to President Obama's choice to run the Pentagon as the Senate Senate Armed Services Committee considers the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska to be secretary of defense. (Associated Press)

Party-line vote sends Pentagon pick Hagel to Senate floor

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted Tuesday along party lines to recommend the nomination of Chuck Hagel as the next secretary of defense, setting up a showdown in the full chamber as outspoken Republicans threatened to thwart the former Nebraska senator's nomination. Published February 12, 2013

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York speaks at a news conference after being elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during the conference's annual fall meeting Tuesday in Baltimore. It marked the first time since the 1960s that the sitting vice president was not elected.

Concession on birth control not sufficient, bishops say

America's Catholic bishops on Thursday rejected President Obama's latest contraception mandate upon religiously affiliated hospitals, schools and charities, saying the rules still don't ensure that people won't be forced to pay for contraceptives to which they morally object. Published February 7, 2013

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York said that President Obama has not responded to a letter he wrote about the Catholic Church's concerns. (Associated Press)

Catholics bishops: Obama contraception compromise not enough

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said Thursday that President Obama's recent attempt to mollify religious objections to covering contraception as part of his signature health law has fallen short of addressing their concerns. Published February 7, 2013

"Each state has its own unique needs. We have different budgets and revenue streams," said Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin. (Associated Press)

GOP governors warily OK expanding Medicaid

Republican governors are warming to the expansion of Medicaid under President Obama's health care law, but their cooperation comes with a common plea to the administration — keep your promises and give us a little flexibility in our backyards, or else the deal is off. Published February 7, 2013

Rep. Charles W. Dent, Pennsylvania Republican (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

Centrist Republicans push long-term budget fix

Centrist House Republicans say they still want Congress to fix the nation's financial problems through a long-term grand bargain, warning its "ping-pong ball" method of propping up the economy from month to month will end in a crisis that will force even more unpleasant decisions on them. Published February 5, 2013

Sebelius: 'Help us speed up' health care rollout

President Obama's health care law is "here to stay," but cannot fulfill its promise if states do not expand Medicaid and the uninsured do not take advantage of the benefits designed to put coverage within reach of millions more Americans, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Monday. Published February 4, 2013

**FILE** President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius leave the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington on Feb. 10, 2012, after the president announced the revamp of his contraception policy requiring religious institutions to fully pay for birth control. (Associated Press)

Obama admin. easing contraception mandate in health law

The Obama administration on Friday rolled out a revised rule that gives religious institutions the option to divorce themselves from a mandate in the president's health care law that requires insurance plans to cover contraception for their employees. Published February 1, 2013

** FILE ** Rep. Sam Graves, Missouri Republican and chairman of the Small Business Committee. (Associated Press)

Top Republican hits health care law's burden on small businesses

A key House Republican is warning that the mandate in President Obama's health care law requiring companies with more than 50 employees to provide adequate health insurance to their workers is so cumbersome that even the parts designed to help firms with compliance will cause headaches. Published February 1, 2013

**FILE** Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican (Associated Press)

Bipartisan bill seeks to alter Obamacare

A Republican and a Democrat teamed up Wednesday to announce a bill to dissolve part of President Obama's health care law that critics say skews some of the benefits to hospitals in Massachusetts, at the expense of other states. Published January 30, 2013

**FILE** President Obama stands with (from left) Dr. Mona Mangat of St. Petersburg, Fla.; Dr. Hershey Garner of Fayetteville, Ark.; Dr. Richard Evans of Dover-Foxcroft, Maine; and Dr. Amanda McKinney of Beatrice, Neb., in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on Oct. 5, 2009, during an event with doctors from around the country to discuss health care reform. (Associated Press)

U.S. facing shortage of 16,000 doctors as health care act kicks in

The United States needs 16,000 more primary care physicians to meet its current health care needs, a problem that will only get worse if nothing is done to accommodate millions of newly-insured residents under President Obama's health care law in the coming decade, according to a Senate report released Tuesday. Published January 29, 2013

"In the president's first term, we argued against big government in theory. In his second, we will argue against it in practice," said Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, signaling the GOP is turning its focus. (Associated Presss)

Tactics change in health law fight

In stark contrast to the last congressional session, Republican lawmakers have introduced only a handful of bills to strike down or dismantle President Obama's health care law in the first weeks of the new Congress — the latest indication that the epicenter of debate over "Obamacare" has shifted to the nation’s statehouses. Published January 28, 2013

** FILE ** People enter the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on the campus of Catholic University in Washington. (The Washington Times)

Catholic Univ. to continue fighting birth-control mandate

Catholic University officials will continue to fight a mandate in President Obama's health care law that requires the school to provide insurance coverage for contraception, the school said Monday, even though a federal judge dismissed their lawsuit against the government as premature. Published January 28, 2013

** FILE ** Tea party supporter William Temple of Brunswick, Ga., protests President Obama's health care law outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington on Thursday, June 28, 2012. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Oklahoma risks IRS penalties on health care

The Internal Revenue Service flatly ignored Oklahoma's "sovereign choice" to reject a key portion of President Obama's health care law, exposing the state to burdensome penalties despite its willful strategy to avoid the sanctions by following the letter of the law, the state's top lawyer said in court papers filed Friday. Published January 26, 2013

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island Democrat (The Washington Times)

‘Bipartisan’ task force on climate change one party short

Two Democrats on Capitol Hill are seconding President Obama's call for real political muscle to address climate change and vowed to form a bipartisan task force — but they haven't found any Republican takers yet. Published January 24, 2013

**FILE** Rep. Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat (Associated Press)

Hill Democrats seek allies for Obama climate push

A pair of Democrats on Capitol Hill are joining President Obama's call to put real political muscle into the fight to address climate change and vowed to form a bipartisan task force — but they haven't found any Republican takers yet. Published January 24, 2013

GOP divided over Obama's Medicaid money offer

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer shocked many observers this month by opting to expand the Medicaid program in her state as part of President Obama's health care law, saying it was a good economic deal, even as her Republican counterparts in states like Georgia flatly rejected the option. Published January 23, 2013