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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.

Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori (left) and Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore speak together last week following a news conference at the National Press Club. More than 100 national religious leaders in an open letter are asking the Obama administration to "expand conscience protections" in the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate. Critics say it does not go far enough in divorcing the institutions from health plans that cover contraception. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

Critics raise questions over abrupt delay of 'Obamacare' mandate

The Obama administration's decision to delay the new health care law's "employer mandate" after business owners complained about its complexity has critics asking why, a few days prior, the White House would green-light a rule it sees as a burden on religious employers who do provide health insurance. Published July 7, 2013

**FILE** Rep. Phil Roe, Tennessee Republican and a physician before being elected to Congress, delivers remarks during a news conference on Capitol Hill with fellow Republican members of the freshman class as they discuss health care overhaul in Washington on March 20, 2010. At right is Rep. John C. Fleming, Louisiana Republican, who was a family physician and former coroner before being elected to Congress. (Associated Press)

GOP questions legality of Obamacare delay

Conservative lawmakers Wednesday questioned both the motives and the legality of President Obama's decision to halt the employer mandate, a key part of his new health insurance law, until after the 2014 elections. Published July 3, 2013

** FILE ** President Obama wipes away sweat during a speech at Georgetown University on June 25, 2013. (Associated Press)

Obamacare's employer mandate delayed to 2015

The Obama administration is delaying a key part of the new health care law for an additional year, to 2015 — a stunning move that officials said gives them a chance to work out kinks over how to administer the so-called employer mandate. Published July 2, 2013

** FILE ** Gay rights advocate Vin Testa waves a rainbow flag at dawn in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington on Wednesday, June 26, 2013. In two separate and significant victories for gay rights, the high court struck down a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act denying federal benefits to married gay couples and cleared the way for the resumption of same-sex marriage in California. (Associated Press)

Feds move quickly on benefits after Supreme Court's gay-marriage ruling

The Obama administration is moving quickly to implement changes from the Supreme Court decision last week to extend benefits to married same-sex couples, a ruling that offered a tangible boost to gays in more than a dozen states even as its impact on the nation's fiscal house remains a puzzle. Published July 1, 2013

Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat (Associated Press)

Student loan rates set to double

Senators left town Thursday without reaching a deal on student loans, meaning rates will double Monday as Democrats continued to balk at the solution proposed by President Obama and Republicans. Published June 27, 2013

** FILE ** A mother chimpanzee relaxes with her baby at Chimp Haven in Keithville, La., on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. The Fish and Wildlife Service says it wants to protect chimpanzees as endangered both in captivity and in the wild, a move that could affect the use of chimps in medical research. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

NIH to slash number of chimps in research

The federal government said Wednesday it will send 310 chimpanzees into early retirement because of new opinions on whether it's moral to use the prized primates for biomedical research. Published June 26, 2013

Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, is at the center of negotiations to strike a deal on the cost of college student loans before rates double Monday. (Associated Press)

Senate Democrats under pressure in student loans battle

Even as the Senate grapples with high-profile immigration reform, lawmakers are under pressure to strike a deal on the cost of college student loans before rates double Monday — a fight that sees Mr. Obama aligned closer to the GOP than his own party. Published June 25, 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)

White House launches website, enlists NFL as part of Obamacare blitz

The Obama administration launched its promotion of the new health care law in earnest Monday, revealing that it has asked the National Football League to advertise insurance options as it rolls out a glossy new website and a 24-hour call center to clear up confusion about the law. Published June 24, 2013

Edward Snowden

NSA leaker Edward Snowden, helped by WikiLeaks, heads to Ecuador via Russia

The computer technician who faces criminal charges for leaking details of U.S. spying programs left Hong Kong on Sunday to seek asylum in Ecuador, reigniting debate over his conflicted status as either a champion for personal privacy or a traitor who might curry favor with hostile nations. Published June 23, 2013

**FILE** Gen. Keith B. Alexander, director of the National Security Agency and head of the U.S. Cyber Command, testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 18, 2013. (Associated Press)

NSA chief tries to assuage public over spying programs

The head of the National Security Agency said Sunday that the former analyst who leaked information about American spying programs cause "irreversible damage" to the country and is not acting, "in my opinion, with noble intent." Published June 23, 2013

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican (Associated Press)

GOP senators, divided on immigration, find common ground on NSA leaker

Republican senators who don't always see eye to eye agreed Sunday that the former National Security Agency analyst who leaked details of top-secret U.S. spying programs and reportedly is on his way from Hong Kong to the likes of Cuba or Venezuela is a "felon" whose travels plans are misguided. Published June 23, 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)

Plan B drug maker: FDA approved pill without restrictions

The drug maker at the heart of a legal fight over access to emergency contraception said Friday it got the green light to offer its one-pill product to customers of all ages, who will not need a prescription or identification to purchase it. Published June 21, 2013

**FILE** Stacks of paperwork await members of the House Agriculture Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 15, 2013, as it meets to consider proposals to the 2013 Farm Bill. (Associated Press)

House rejection of farm bill sows bad seeds for Boehner

The House rejected the massive farm bill Thursday after conservative Republicans banded with Democrats, dealing a major defeat to House Speaker John A. Boehner and the GOP leadership and raising questions about the chamber's ability to pass any ambitious legislation this year. Published June 20, 2013

** FILE ** President Obama is introduced by Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, before speaking at the 2013 Planned Parenthood National Conference in Washington on April 26, 2013. (Associated Press)

Planned Parenthood touts benefits of Obamacare

Planned Parenthood has joined the ranks of White House allies promoting President Obama's health care law, greeting visitors to its website with a section on "Obamacare and You." Published June 20, 2013

Sen. Susan M. Collins, Maine Republican, said employers should be allowed to calculate full-time employees based on a 40-hour workweek instead of 30 hours under the new health law. "This is not a hypothetical concern," Ms. Collins said. (Associated Press)

GAO sees problem meeting health law deadlines

The government's chief auditor on Wednesday said President Obama's health care overhaul is in danger of missing key October deadlines, raising concerns it could be the nightmare that Republicans and even some Democratic lawmakers have feared of late. Published June 19, 2013