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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. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, noted that helium is "a critical resource for a number of important sectors of the American economy," including semiconductors and fiber optics.  (Associated Press)

Bipartisanship surfaces on issue of helium reserve

Federal lawmakers from both parties say they're eager to scale down the nation's helium reserve without disrupting the supply chain, a seemingly arcane effort that is so urgent it may "rise above" the partisan rancor on Capitol Hill. Published May 7, 2013

**FILE** Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat (Associated Press)

Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin drops block on Obama Medicare nominee

Sen. Tom Harkin said he will remove his hold on President Obama's pick to lead the nation's Medicare agency, but the powerful Iowa Democrat said Tuesday he is still not happy with the administration's "penny-wise, pound-foolish" tendency to raid a fund designated for preventative health programs. Published May 7, 2013

** FILE ** Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on Friday, April 12, 2013, before a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on President Obama's budget proposal for the HHS for fiscal 2014. (Associated Press)

Pediatric PR: Sebelius tells pediatricians to promote 'Obamacare'

President Obama's top health official asked the nation's pediatric groups on Monday to spread the word about benefits within the federal health care law, a plea that coincides with mounting pressure to implement the ambitious overhaul before its main provisions kick in next year. Published May 6, 2013

Rudolph W. Giuliani

Giuliani: Boston bombings show threat of homegrown jihadists

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said the Obama administration should ratchet up its focus on homegrown terrorists and their links to overseas jihadists despite the death of Osama bin Laden, citing the Boston Marathon bombings as a reminder that radicalized Islam is a constant threat. Published May 5, 2013

**FILE** Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican (Associated Press)

Israeli airstrikes on Syria put Obama at the crossroads

As Israeli planes hit targets in Syria for the second time in three days, some Republicans on Sunday ramped up their calls for President Obama to take stronger measures against the Assad regime — but the White House response was muted. Published May 5, 2013

Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. (NARAL)

Birth control stances test Obama's liberal base

The debate over minors' access to contraceptives is testing the loyalty of groups traditionally among the biggest supporters of President Obama, who said Thursday he is "comfortable" with his administration's efforts to find a middle ground on the issue. Published May 2, 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)

Obama administration to appeal Plan B contraception age limit

The Obama administration, under massive pressure from both sides of the culture war over contraception, has decided to appeal a federal court’s order to make a morning-after pill available to everyone without a prescription, just a day after expanding access to the pills for younger teenage girls. Published May 1, 2013

**FILE** Supporters of health care reform rally March 28, 2012, in front of the Supreme Court in Washington. (Associated Press)

Obama admits challenges but doubles down on 'Obamacare'

President Obama on Tuesday vowed that his health care law will be a success for both insured and soon-to-be-covered Americans, even though it is a "big, complicated piece of business" facing ceaseless criticism on Capitol Hill and roadblocks to implementation in Republican-led states. Published April 30, 2013

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, is "closely monitoring" proposed health insurance plan rates before the "Obamacare" exchanges kick in 2014.

'Obamacare' opponents checking for 'rate shock'

Opponents of President Obama's health care law are eagerly scouring the paperwork insurers file with states, looking for early evidence of "rate shock" — rising prices ahead of full implementation of the state "exchanges" that begin next year. Published April 29, 2013

**FILE** Lee Medina, an employee at Dan D Party Corner in Cheyenne, Wyo., stands near a close-to-empty helium tank used to fill balloons on Sept. 22, 2011. (Associated Press)

House votes to avert a worldwide helium shortage

The House overwhelmingly passed legislation on Friday to sell off helium from a federal reserve in Texas while demanding a fair price for it, a seemingly arcane bill that exposed a global shortage of the second-most abundant element in the universe. Published April 26, 2013