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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.

President Obama, accompanied by acting Budget Director Jeffrey Zients, speaks April 10, 2013, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington to discuss his proposed fiscal 2014 federal budget. (Associated Press)

Obama budget eyes $400B in health savings without hitting benefits

President Obama's new budget plan aims for about $400 billion in health care savings over the next decade through tweaks to Medicare and other reforms that will affect drug companies more than Americans who benefit from federal health entitlements. Published April 10, 2013

**FILE** Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaks Feb. 20, 2013, in Philadelphia. (Associated Press)

Obama budget includes $235M for mental health, gun violence

Health and Human Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said President Obama's new budget plan released Wednesday morning will devote $235 million toward mental health programs designed to pinpoint problems among youth and prevent gun violence. Published April 10, 2013

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius discussed birth control policy at a forum Monday at the Harvard School of Public Health. (Associated Press)

Free birth control rules to be finalized

President Obama's top health official said Monday the administration will finalize its new rules granting free birth control, saying the controversial policy will go into effect in August. Published April 8, 2013

**FILE** This image provided by Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc., shows the packaging for the "Plan B" pill. (Associated Press)

Judge strikes down age restrictions on 'morning-after' pill

A federal judge ordered the Food and Drug Administration on Friday to make a morning-after birth control pill available without a prescription for girls younger than 17 within 30 days — a blunt opinion that rebuked decisions by the Obama administration as politically motivated. Published April 5, 2013

** FILE ** President Obama signs the Affordable Care Act in 2010 at the White House.

Taxes heat up battle against 'Obamacare'; focus turns to partial repeals

A tax on everything from X-ray machines to oxygen tanks took effect at the beginning of this year — one of about 20 taxes and fees included in President Obama's health care law — and has emerged as the central battleground in the fight by the law's opponents to repeal parts of the president's overhaul. Published April 3, 2013

Advantage plans under Medicare to get payment boost

The Obama administration reversed course Monday and said it now anticipates boosting rather than cutting payments to insurers who offer Medicare Advantage plans — the private health plans that the president had at one time deemed wasteful. Published April 1, 2013

**FILE** Smokers without medical insurance receive free nicotine patches and gum at the Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic inside the Los Angeles Sports Arena in Los Angeles on April 27, 2010. (Associated Press)

FDA: No warning required for nicotine gum, patches

The Food and Drug Administration said Monday that manufacturers of products designed to help people quit smoking can alter or remove previously required safety warnings that may be discouraging people from trying to kick the habit. Published April 1, 2013

**FILE** The United Nations building is reflected on the window of the U.S. mission to the U.N. as portraits of President Obama (left), Vice President Joseph R. Biden, and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hang in the lobby on Sept. 18, 2010, in New York. (Associated Press)

Gun groups promise fight as U.N. inches toward override of Second Amendment

American gun rights advocates said Thursday that they remain determined to block a far-reaching U.S. agreement on international arms sales, warning that the pact could lead to a national firearms registry and disrupt the U.S. gun market, even as the accord ran into an unexpected last-minute snag in negotiations in New York. Published March 28, 2013

**FILE** House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi addresses an audience in Boston during an event held to mark the 20th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act on March 25, 2013. (Associated Press)

Pelosi 'optimistic' DOMA will be struck down

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says she is "very optimistic" the Supreme Court will strike down a 1996 law that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman for all federal purposes, leading a chorus of Democratic lawmakers asking the judges to do so. Published March 27, 2013

This artist rendering shows attorney Charles J. Cooper, right, addressing the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, March 26, 2013, as the court heard arguments on California's ban on same-sex marriage. Justices, from left are, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito and Elena Kagan. (AP Photo/Dana Verkouteren)

Obama administration under fire in gay marriage arguments

Gay marriage is on trial but it was the Obama administration facing the heat as the Supreme Court began the second of two days of landmark oral arguments on the constitutionality of gay marriage. Published March 27, 2013

Vanessa Torres (center) and her fiance Rachel Broussard (right) of Hampton, Va., console Vanessa's daughter Gabriela, 12,  as they listen to speakers during a rally for marriage equality outside the Supreme Court in Washington as the justices begin hearing two days of arguments in cases involving gay marriage on March 26, 2013. Torres and Broussard each have two children from previous marriages and are getting married in August. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

Both sides optimistic, uncertain as gay marriage arguments end

Attorneys who are challenging and defending California's ban on gay marriage before the Supreme Court struck an optimistic tone as they emerged from arguments on Tuesday, even if they conceded they have no idea how the justices will rule about three months from now. Published March 26, 2013

Qween Amar (left) from Orlando, Fla., dances March 26, 2013, by Margie Phelps (right), a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, outside the Supreme Court in Washington,where the court will hear arguments on California's voter approved ban on same-sex marriage, Proposition 8. (Associated Press)

Key justice: 'Immediate injury' in gay marriage ban

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, often pegged as a key swing-vote between the court's conservative and liberal blocs, has signaled that children of same-sex couples suffer an "immediate legal injury" from California's ban on gay marriage, according to an account of the high court's oral arguments provided by Bloomberg News. Published March 26, 2013

Corporation rights drive divergent rulings on contraception

A federal judge has rejected a Michigan company's urgent plea for protection from the contraception mandate in President Obama's health-care law, noting that a corporation's rights are not always the same as an individual's. Published March 25, 2013

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele chats following the annual Red Mass for the U.S. Supreme Court at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

Ex-RNC head Michael Steele knocks down Christie criticism

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele said Monday that conservatives' decision to ostracize popular New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for embracing President Obama in a time of crisis was "nothing short of moronic." Published March 25, 2013