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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.

(Associated Press/File)

Snapshot: 1.6 million Obamacare customers dropped out as of March 31

Obamacare lost 1.6 million customers on its web-based exchanges between the end of open enrollment and March 31, the administration said Thursday in a snapshot of how many customers held on to coverage after the law's third round of signups. Published June 30, 2016

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, Alabama Republican, listens as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testifies on U.S. monetary policy on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 21, 2016. (Associated Press) **FILE**

Democrats urge Sen. Richard Shelby to drop Ex-Im blockade

Dozens of Senate Democrats urged Sen. Richard Shelby on Thursday to reconsider his decision to block a nominee to the Export-Import Bank, arguing his blockade is holding back an agency that enjoys majority support from Congress. Published June 30, 2016

In this photo taken Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, Blue Bridge Benefits LLC agent Patricia Sarabia helps customers interested in Obama Care at a kiosk at Compare Foods in Winston-Salem, N.C.  Such atypical approaches to selling health insurance policies are playing out across the country since the second round of open enrollment under the federal Affordable Care Act opened in mid-November. Insurance companies and some states are focusing heavily on signing up eligible Hispanics, a group that accounts for a large share of the nation's uninsured but largely avoided applying for coverage during the first full year the health care reform law was in effect. Hispanics accounted for just 11 percent of those who enrolled in the private policies sold during the initial sign-up period, which ended in March.  (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Republicans back Obamacare repeal, but divided over replacing it: Poll

Knee-deep in an election year, an increasing share of Republicans want to repeal Obamacare entirely but remain split on whether to replace it with a GOP-favored plan, while Democratic partisans are warming to the law after a presidential primary that put single-payer health care on the table, according to a poll released Thursday. Published June 30, 2016

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talks about his agenda for a GOP-controlled Congress during an interview with The Associated Press on Capitol Hill in Washington.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Congress approves Puerto Rico debt rescue package

Congress approved a rescue package Wednesday to help Puerto Rico escape a sea of debt, tossing a lifeline to the island territory just two days before it faces default on a $2 billion bond payment. Published June 29, 2016

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. walks to the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 29, 2016, as the Senate works on a rescue package for debt-stricken Puerto Rico, just two days before the island is expected to default on a $2 billion debt payment. The bill, passed by the House earlier this month, would create a control board that would oversee the island's finances and could supervise some debt restructuring. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senate votes to advance Puerto Rico debt bill

A bill to pull Puerto Rico out of a sea of bond debt advanced in the Senate Wednesday, two days before the island territory faces default on a $2 billion payment. Published June 29, 2016

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington in this June 9, 2016, file photo. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Senate Democrats block Zika funding bill

Senate Democrats blocked a $1.1 billion deal Tuesday that uses Obamacare and Ebola funds to combat the mosquito-borne Zika virus, throwing negotiations into disarray even as insects begin to bite on the U.S. mainland. Published June 28, 2016

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 24, 2016. From left are, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., McConnell, and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) ** FILE **

Zika virus spending package sitting in partisan gridlock

A spending package to fight the mosquito-borne Zika virus is mired in partisan gridlock, with Senate Democrats saying Monday they "have no choice" but to sink the $1.1 billion measure because it swipes money from Obamacare and the Ebola fight and bars any of it from flowing to Planned Parenthood. Published June 27, 2016

This Oct. 13, 2015, photo shows the Supreme Court in Washington. (Associated Press) **FILE**

Court upholds reach of gun ban for domestic violence convicts

Domestic abusers can be barred from owning guns even if their crimes were misdemeanors resulting from recklessness rather than intentional acts, the Supreme Court ruled Monday in upholding the broad scope of a 20-year-old federal law. Published June 27, 2016

House Speaker Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 22, 2016, following a House Republican caucus meeting. (Associated Press) **FILE**

GOP tax plan would slash rates, simplify code

House Republicans called for a "fairer" and "flatter" tax code Friday, saying Americans should be split into fewer income brackets and file their returns on something as simple as a postcard. Published June 24, 2016

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. listens at left as Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 21, 2016, following their policy luncheon. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Hill impasse may doom Zika funding bill

A House-passed deal to combat the Zika virus might be doomed in the Senate, where Democrats say it is not enough to stem the mosquito-borne threat and help pregnant women whose unborn children might develop defects in the womb. Published June 23, 2016

In this image from video provided by House Television, House Speaker Paul Ryan stands at the podium as he brings the House into session Wednesday night, June 22, 2016, in Washington. Rebellious Democrats staged an extraordinary all-day sit-in on the House floor to demand votes on gun-control bills, shouting down Ryan when he attempted to restore order as their protest stretched into the night. The sit-in was well into its 10th hour, with Democrats camped out on the floor stopping legislative business in the House, when Ryan stepped to the podium to gavel the House into session and hold votes on routine business. Angry Democrats chanted No bill, no break! and waved pieces of paper with the names of gun victims, continuing their protest in the well of the House even as the House voted on a previously scheduled and unrelated measure to overturn an Obama veto. (House Television via AP)

Democrats end gun-control sit-in without winning concessions

House Democrats wrapped up a daylong sit-in Thursday without winning concessions on gun control, leaving town empty-handed after Republicans accused them of co-opting the chamber floor for a "publicity stunt" designed to fill party coffers. Published June 23, 2016

In this Monday, May 23, 2016 photo, an Aedes aegypti mosquito is kept in a glass tube at the Fiocruz institute which has been screening for mosquitos naturally infected with the Zika virus in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. For every 100 pregnancies involving women infected early in their pregnancy, 1 percent to 15 percent will develop severe birth defects, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Congressional negotiators reach deal on Zika funding

Congressional negotiators agreed Wednesday to a package that posts $1.1 billion to combat the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness that can cause serious birth defect in infants born to infected mothers. Published June 22, 2016

Rio de Janierio Olympic officials are pressing on with preps for the Summer Games, saying that the Southern Hemisphere's winter months will allow time for instituting measures to head off Zika virus concerns. (Associated Press)

Rio Olympics officials forge ahead as Zika fears hang over games

Olympic officials are forging ahead with the Summer Games in the country where the ominous Zika outbreak began, betting the Brazilian winter and months of prep work will triumph over disease-carrying insects and critics who say the event could scatter the virus across the globe. Published June 22, 2016

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan announces a Republican plan to repeal and replace President Obama's health care law. (Associated Press)

Democrats pick apart Republicans' long-awaited alternative to Obamacare

House Republicans launched an uphill bid Wednesday to redo national health care reform amid withering criticism from the White House and Democrats, who said the GOP's long-awaited plan lacks details and that Obamacare already insures millions of people. Published June 22, 2016

Spearheaded by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the proposal is an election-year blueprint rather than a bill. (Associated Press)

House Republicans to unveil Obamacare alternative after six-year wait

House Republicans will unveil a health plan Wednesday that has been six years in the making, calling for an end to the heavy mandates and government-run exchanges of Obamacare in favor of incentives designed to entice customers into private-market plans. Published June 21, 2016