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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.

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)

HHS: 11.3 million Obamacare signups nationwide

Roughly 11.3 million people have selected private plans on Obamacare's exchanges, according to a government update released Thursday that for the first time includes 2016 signup data from all of the states. Published January 7, 2016

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., smiles as he departs the chamber just after the Repubican-controlled House of Representatives voted to eliminate key parts of President Barack Obama's health care law and to stop taxpayer funds from going to Planned Parenthood, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Speaker Paul Ryan says House will go 'on offense' in 2016

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday his chamber will be "going on offense on ideas" in 2016, offering voters a clear idea of what a Republican Congress could do with an ally in the White House. Published January 7, 2016

Congress sends Obamacare repeal to president's desk for first time

Six years after President Obama rammed Obamacare through a Democrat-run Congress, Republicans used their own majority to take a "monumental" step toward scrapping the overhaul Wednesday, approving a bill to ax the onerous mandates that penalize Americans who refuse to comply with the health care law's demands. Published January 6, 2016

President Obama stands with House Speaker Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, in Emancipation Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington on Dec. 9, 2015, during an event to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the 13th amendment that abolished slavery. (Associated Press) **FILE**

Congress set to send Obamacare repeal to president

Congress is poised to dispatch an Obamacare repeal bill to President Obama's desk Wednesday, fulfilling a long-standing but elusive goal for Republicans who seized the House in 2011 and reaffirmed their vow after taking control of the Senate last year. Published January 6, 2016

"This bill will stop taxpayer dollars from going to abortion providers, like Planned Parenthood ...," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said. (Associated Press)

House Republicans to vote to strip Planned Parenthood funding

Four years after GOP Senate candidates stumbled over reproductive rights, the thorny issue is once again front and center as Congress kicks off 2016 with a vote to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood in retaliation for its abortion practices. Published January 5, 2016

In this Dec. 17, 2015, photo, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. speaks during an end-of-the-year news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House to open with vote to repel Obamacare law

Congressional Republicans will kick off 2016 with a vote to repeal Obamacare, but they are still struggling to figure out the next steps in replacing President Obama's health insurance overhaul, which, while suffering growing pains, now provides coverage to millions of Americans. Published January 4, 2016

FILE - In this June 25, 2015, file photo, students cheer as they hold up signs, outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, supporting the Affordable Care Act after the Supreme Court decided that the ACA may provide nationwide tax subsidies. Republican foes of President Barack Obama’s health care law may be able to get more by chipping away at it than trying to take the whole thing down at once. That’s the lesson of the budget deal passed by Congress and signed by the president on Dec. 18. It delayed a widely-criticized tax on high-cost employer health insurance plans that hasn’t taken effect yet. And it temporarily suspended two taxes on industry already being collected, which are also part of the health law. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

HHS: 3 in 5 Obamacare customers shopped around for 2016 plan

A greater share of Obamacare customers logged back onto to shop around and select a new plan for 2016 than in last year's renewal period, the administration said Wednesday, casting it is as a sign that more people are heeding its advice to seek out the best deal in the federal marketplace. Published December 30, 2015

A kit with naloxone, also known by its brand name Narcan, is displayed at the South Jersey AIDS Alliance in Atlantic City, N.J., on Feb. 19, 2014. An overdose of opiates essentially makes the body forget to breathe. Naloxone works by blocking the brain receptors that opiates latch onto and helping the body "remember" to take in air. (Associated Press) **FILE**

9 in 10 prescribed opioids even after overdose: Study

More than 9 out of every 10 patients who survive a prescription-opioid overdose are able to get the drugs again, usually from the same prescriber, according to a study published Tuesday that underscores the uphill battle that state and federal leaders face in fighting a national drug epidemic. Published December 29, 2015

President Obama has acquiesced to Congress' fiscal tweaks but has fended off every effort to repeal or cut benefits from his health care law. (Associated Press)

Without any benefit cuts, Obamacare costs to rise

President Obama has managed to defend his signature health care law's generous system of taxpayer-funded benefits from attacks in Congress and the courts, but Capitol Hill is finally beginning to eat away at Obamacare's financial foundations. Published December 28, 2015

The website is busier than ever, the Health and Human Services Department reports. (Associated Press/File) activity reaches record high as end of year approaches

Obamacare sign-ups on the federal website are running 2 million ahead of last year's pace, with 8.2 million so far, the administration announced Tuesday, saying demand has surged as customers rush to have coverage in place before the new year. Published December 22, 2015

FILE - In this July 28, 2015, file photo, Erica Canaut, center, cheers as she and other anti-abortion activists rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas, to condemn the use in medical research of tissue samples obtained from aborted fetuses. Texas announced Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, that it was cutting off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood clinics following undercover videos of officials discussing fetal tissue, potentially triggering a legal fight like the one unfolding in neighboring Louisiana. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Obama admin. agrees to fetal-tissue research probe amid Planned Parenthood backlash

The Health and Human Services Department's inspector general has agreed to probe how the Obama administration funds and oversees research involving fetal tissue, according to Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who drew a straight line Tuesday between the audit and undercover videos that appeared to show Planned Parenthood officials negotiating the sale of fetal body parts. Published December 22, 2015

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, cajoled 150 from his party to join Democrats in voting for the spending measure, earning more support from his usually rebellious troops than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, was able to manage in the more staid upper chamber. (Associated Press)

Republican leaders win tax battles, party unity despite concessions

Republican leaders closed their first year in complete control of Congress with an impressive show of support among their members for spending and tax cuts, avoiding a government shutdown and demonstrating striking party unity despite being unable to rein in President Obama's expansive agenda. Published December 20, 2015

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks to reporters and members of the Communication Workers of America (CWA), following the union's endorsement of Sanders, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015, at the CWA's headquarters in Washington.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Bernie Sanders' spat with DNC over Hillary Clinton's campaign data breach stretches on

Sen. Bernard Sanders' bizarre spat with the Democratic National Committee stretched into a fourth day Sunday, with the grass-roots contender for the 2016 nomination tempering apologies for staff who breached his rival's campaign files with new swipes at the party's leaders, saying they've treated him unfairly. Published December 20, 2015