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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. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

Senate nears deal to fund Zika fight

Sen. Roy Blunt said negotiators are nearing a deal that would partially fund President Obama's $1.9 billion request for emergency spending to combat the Zika virus at home and abroad. Published May 11, 2016

David Vitter (Associated Press/File)

GOP senator holding up OPM nomination over Obamacare 'fraud'

Sen. David Vitter said Wednesday he will not lift his hold on President Obama's pick to lead the federal personnel office because the agency continues to let members of Congress use an Obamacare exchange while receiving a generous employer subsidy, an option that regular Americans don't have. Published May 11, 2016

In this Feb. 11, 2016, file photo of aedes aegypti mosquitoes are seen in a mosquito cage at a laboratory in Cucuta, Colombia. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan, File)

Governors to Congress: Strike a deal on Zika funding now

The nation's governors urged Congress Monday to strike a deal on federal funding to combat the Zika virus, saying Capitol Hill must act before the mosquito-borne virus can reach a "tipping point" that leads to a rapid rate of infection in their states. Published May 9, 2016

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 10, 2015, before the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on President Obama's health care law. Burwell said it will be up to Congress and the states to decide what to do should the Supreme Court annul federal subsidies that are a cornerstone of Obama's health care law. (Associated Press) **FILE**

Obama admin: Help us design a medical bill people can understand

The Obama administration challenged health care groups, web developers and other innovators Monday to design a medical bill that patients can actually read and understand, saying a patchwork of content and jargon is overwhelming Americans who just want to know what they owe and why. Published May 9, 2016

Mosquito inspector Giraldo Carratala responds to a complaint in a Miami neighborhood. Health officials are concerned about the Zika virus and the mosquitoes that spread it. (Associated Press)

Zika fears fuel demand for bug spray as mosquito season looms

Factories are churning out bug spray around the clock as fears of the mosquito-borne Zika virus take hold. Demand has tripled in Brazil, where the virus is already entrenched, and has doubled in the U.S., even though no mosquito-transmitted cases have been recorded in the country. Published May 5, 2016

FILE - In this April 23, 2014, file photo, a man smokes an electronic cigarette in Chicago. On Thursday, May 5, 2016, the Food and Drug Administration released long-awaited rules that bring the burgeoning electronic cigarette industry under federal oversight. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

FDA brings e-cigarettes under federal authority, bans sale to minors

Retailers can no longer sell electronic cigarettes to people under age 18, the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday as part of highly anticipated regulations that will rein in the burgeoning industry, stirring up new controversy over the devices. Published May 5, 2016

FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2015, file photo, the website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington.  (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File) **FILE**

Obamacare customers overpaid $8M by IRS

The IRS mistakenly overpaid more than $8 million to customers and Obamacare users in California, and cheated tens of thousands of others out of nearly $2 million in 2015 because the government relied on incorrect information to figure their taxes, an audit revealed Tuesday. Published May 3, 2016

Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio Republican (Associated Press) **FILE**

Congress must do more to fight opioid crisis: poll

Nearly half of Americans say they know someone who's faced addiction to prescription painkillers, and more than 60 percent say the government needs to do more to stop the epidemic of painkiller and heroin abuse that's sweeping the country. Published May 3, 2016

Senate Dems block spending bill over Iran 'poison pill'

Senate Democrats blocked the first of a dozen spending bills from advancing Thursday, mounting their second filibuster in as many days in protest of a GOP bid to disrupt President Obama's effort to bolster his nuclear deal with Iran. Published April 28, 2016

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., right, leans in to speak to Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., center, as Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., stands left, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 27, 2016, to call on congressional Republicans to approve President Barack Obama's emergency supplemental request to fight the Zika virus. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Sen. John Cornyn: Dems want a 'blank check' for Zika

Senate Democrats are seeking a "blank check" to combat the Zika virus, a top Republican charged Thursday, as lawmakers prepared to skip town for a week without settling their quarrel over President Obama's request for nearly $2 billion to resist the mosquito-borne disease. Published April 28, 2016

Senate Special Committee on Aging Chair Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, right, and the committee's ranking member Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., confer on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 27, 2016, prior to the start of their committee's hearing on drastic price hikes by Valeant and a handful of other drugmakers that have stoked outrage from patients, physicians and politicians nationwide. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Valeant CEO admits to Congress: Pharma company acquired drugs, hiked prices

The departing CEO of Valeant Pharmaceuticals told Congress Wednesday his company was too "aggressive" in pursuing drastic price hikes for products it acquired from other drug makers, though his mea culpa did little to assuage lawmakers who said he put Wall Street's expectations over seriously ill patients. Published April 27, 2016

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid of Nev., joined by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., left and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 27, 2016, to call on congressional Republicans to approve President Barack Obama's emergency supplemental request to fight the Zika virus. (Associated Press) **FILE**

Conservatives tell Obama to use budget waste for Zika funding

If President Obama needs more money to fight the Zika virus, he will have to find it by cutting elsewhere in the federal budget, House conservatives said Wednesday, laying down a marker as Congress increasingly clashes with the administration over spending requests. Published April 27, 2016

Incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis in Cheyenne, Wyo. (Associated Press/The Wyoming Tribune Eagle) **FILE**

Rep. Cynthia Lummis to Trump: Use VP pick to balance out personality

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump should choose a running mate who is serious-minded and understands Congress, a Wyoming congresswoman said Wednesday, arguing the vice president slot would be the ideal place to temper his outsized personality. Published April 27, 2016