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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** Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. walks out of the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 4, 2013, following the counting of Electoral College votes. (Associated Press)

Senate narrowly passes first budget in four years

Saturday's razor-thin, predawn approval of a spending plan in the Senate is being called a victory by Democrats — but Republicans emerged from the all-nighter with momentum on two key issues: deficit reduction and the Keystone XL pipeline. Published March 22, 2013

** FILE ** Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Firefighters, birth control lead off Senate budget votes

The Senate kicked off what promises to be a lengthy "vote-a-rama" session tied to their budget plan Friday afternoon by swiftly approving funds for forest firefighters out West and then defeating, largely along party lines, an amendment that would have let secular employers refuse to insure contraception. Published March 22, 2013

‘Obamacare’ still a work in progress

Marking the third anniversary of the health care law's passage in Congress, Republicans and Democrats agreed on one thing Thursday — President Obama's signature legislative achievement could use some changes. Published March 21, 2013

**FILE** Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican (Associated Press)

Senate votes to kill Obamacare-related tax

The Senate on Thursday voted to repeal a sales tax on medical devices that is part of President Obama's health-care law, a rare bipartisan attempt to strip away a section of the controversial reforms. Published March 21, 2013

GOP still trying to take apart ‘Obamacare’

President Obama's health care law passed Congress three years ago and remains almost entirely intact, but Republicans say they are still gathering support to dismantle it, betting that the overhaul will lose its political heft as Americans feel the brunt of its taxes and regulations. Published March 20, 2013

**FILE** Rep. Joe Crowley, New York Democrat (Associated Press)

Lawmakers push bill on primary-care doctor shortage

Five members of Congress reintroduced a bill Monday that takes on the nation's shortage of primary-care doctors by increasing the number of government-funded training slots at teaching hospitals. Published March 18, 2013

** FILE ** House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, speaks about the 2014 Budget Resolution during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 12, 2013. (Associated Press)

Paul Ryan introduces GOP budget, sees balance in decade

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan proposed a budget Tuesday that he said can cut $4.6 trillion and bring federal finances to balance in 10 years, calling the plan an "invitation" to find common ground with President Obama and congressional Democrats. Published March 12, 2013

** FILE ** Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican

Spending bill gives GOP opening to kill health law

This month's must-pass spending bill gives the GOP another opportunity to try to kill President Obama's health care law, but most Republican leaders are shying away from that, saying it's not worth going to the brink of a shutdown over the 3-year-old law. Published March 11, 2013

** FILE ** President Obama signs the health care reform bill in the East Room of the White House in Washington on March 23, 2010, as Marcelas Owens (left), 11, of Seattle and Rep. John D. Dingell (right), Michigan Democrat, look on. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

GOP bill exempts religious nonprofits, business owners from contraception mandate

A trio of House Republicans introduced a bill Tuesday that protects religious nonprofits and devout business owners from a provision in President Obama's health care law that requires them to insure contraception for their employees, a mandate they view as an attack on the "bedrock principle" of religious freedom. Published March 5, 2013

Study adds fuel to fire in push for entitlement reform

The push to reform federal payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients picked up steam Monday when physicians released a study arguing that halting unneeded services could save hundreds of billions of dollars. Published March 4, 2013

States cook up own takes on Obamacare

States have scant precedent to rely on as they shape the twin pillars of President Obama's health care law, an uncertainty that has resulted in what one Iowa official described as 50 discrete "laboratories." Published March 4, 2013

Governors using Obamacare in Medicaid talks

Governors are increasingly embracing a key part of President Obama's health law by expanding their Medicaid programs — but they are using the law as a bargaining chip to try to win more flexibility for how they run their own state programs. Published February 28, 2013