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Tom Howell Jr.

Tom Howell Jr.

Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

Articles by Tom Howell Jr.

Aedes aegypti mosquitos are bred for Zika related testing at the dengue lab run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Feb. 24, 2016. (Associated Press) **FILE**

Bayer donates mosquito nets, birth control to Puerto Rico for Zika fight

Pharmaceutical giant Bayer has given Puerto Rico a "very substantial donation" to help it fight the Zika virus, including thousands of mosquito nets and units of birth control for women who want to avoid pregnancy during the outbreak, the philanthropic arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. Published May 26, 2016

Facing $72 billion of debt, Puerto Rico is pleading with Congress to step in and restructure its finance. A bipartisan deal is set for a vote in the House, and Rep. Raul V. Grijalva, Arizona Democrat, said it has "the best opportunity to pass." (Associated Press)

Puerto Rico bailout package facing bipartisan resistance

The bipartisan Puerto Rico debt-rescue bill has been blasted by conservatives as a bailout, and by liberals as too harsh to residents of the island territory -- but GOP leaders say they're about to prove the naysayers wrong in a key test vote Wednesday. Published May 24, 2016

House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, Texas Republican, is joined by Rep. Virginia Foxx, North Carolina Republican, as he speaks during a panel on Capitol in Washington on May 7, 2014. (Associated Press) **FILE**

GOP duo touts Obamacare state opt-out plan

A pair of Republican lawmakers touted a health care plan Monday that would let states opt out of Obamacare, rather than repealing it outright, and deploy a program that uses a uniform tax credit to help Americans get insured. Published May 23, 2016

FILE - In this Friday, Feb. 12, 2016 file photo, Lara, who is less then 3-months old and was born with microcephaly, is examined by a neurologist at the Pedro I hospital in Campina Grande, Paraiba state, Brazil. Scientists suspect an outbreak of the Zika virus is behind a surge in a rare birth defect in Brazil. But how are they going to prove it? Authorities in the South American country were quick to make the link last fall.  But experts say the evidence is still circumstantial. Several studies are underway in Zika outbreak countries to see if the mosquito-borne virus is the actual case.  (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

CDC monitoring nearly 300 pregnant women for Zika problems

The U.S. is monitoring nearly 300 pregnant women with likely Zika infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday, as President Obama urged Congress to "get moving" on funds to combat a serious outbreak. Published May 20, 2016

House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, Texas Republican, is joined by Rep. Virginia Foxx, North Carolina Republican, as he speaks during a panel on Capitol in Washington on May 7, 2014. (Associated Press) **FILE**

Vote-switching on gay-rights measure causes uproar in House

The House defeated a pro-gay rights measure by a single vote Thursday, prompting Democrats to loudly chant, "Shame! Shame!" from the chamber floor and lash out at GOP leaders who they accused of bending the rules to orchestrate the defeat. Published May 19, 2016

A demonstrator protests the Federal Reserve's failure to bail out Puerto Rico outside International House in New York on April 7, 2016. (Associated Press) **FILE**

House leaders push new Puerto Rico bill to rescue it from $72B debt

House leaders lobbied members Thursday to support the latest version of a bill designed to impose fiscal oversight on Puerto Rico and rescue it from $72 billion in bond debt, saying the parties negotiated in good faith and that Congress should act now to avoid a taxpayer bailout down the road. Published May 19, 2016

"This short-term funding resolution will keep the lights on in government and maintain current operations for a few days so Congress can complete and pass an agreement," said Rep. Harold Rogers, Kentucky Republican and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. (Associated Press)

House passes Zika funding bill for one-third of Obama's request

The House brushed aside President Obama's veto threat and passed a bill Wednesday that takes hundreds of millions from the Ebola fight and other federal accounts to fight the Zika virus, laying down a marker that's only a third of what the White House wanted to combat the mosquito-borne illness. Published May 18, 2016

An examination dish containing dead mosquitoes sits under a microscope on Tuesday, May 17, 2016, in Brownsville, Texas. The exhibit was part of a display of tools public health offficials use to capture and combat mosquitos. A panel of local experts and officials discussed the threat Zika brings and ways to minimize its spread in the Rio Grande Valley, a major thoroughfare of international trade and travel. (Jason Hoekema/The Brownsville Herald via AP)

WHO calls on Europe to gird for Zika

The World Health Organization on Wednesday told Europe to gird for the Zika virus that is causing serious birth defects in Latin America, underscoring the potential reach of the mosquito-borne disease as U.S. lawmakers debate how much money is needed to beat back a potential outbreak at home. Published May 18, 2016

Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, is co-sponsoring legislation to fully fund President Obama's nearly $2 billion emergency spending request. He said that if the spending can be offset, that's fine. But also said he was OK tacking it onto the debt. (Associated Press)

Marco Rubio joins push to pass Obama's $2 billion Zika request

Just two months after running as one of the conservative candidates in the GOP presidential race, Sen. Marco Rubio is now embracing Democrats' calls to open the federal checkbook and dole out billions of dollars in money to combat the Zika virus — and tacking it onto the debt. Published May 16, 2016

The Supreme Court. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

Supreme Court rejects Obama's birth control plan, sends case to lower courts

The Supreme Court declined to rule in a closely watched fight over Obamacare's birth control rules Monday and sent the dispute back to the lower courts, saying both sides should be able to reach a compromise that doesn't force religious nonprofits to be involved in contraceptive coverage that violates their beliefs. Published May 16, 2016