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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.

**FILE** Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican (Associated Press)

Sen. David Vitter uses pharmacy bill to challenge Obamacare

Sen. David Vitter wants to know if fellow lawmakers are skirting the letter of the law by exempting staff members from state-based Obamacare markets, and he is willing to hold up a pharmaceuticals bill that breezed through a key test vote late Tuesday to get his colleagues to fess up. Published November 12, 2013

**FILE** President Barack Obama speaks at Temple Emanu-El on Nov. 6, 2013, in Dallas, as he promotes his health care law. (Associated Press/The Dallas Morning News, Louis DeLuca)

Study: Just 3 percent of projected Obamacare enrollees have signed up

Just 3 percent of those expected to eventually sign up for Obamacare's state-based health markets in a dozen states running their own markets have actually signed up so far, according to an analysis Monday from a health consultancy that predicted the pace will eventually pick up. Published November 11, 2013

** FILE ** Sen. Kay R. Hagan, North Carolina Democrat, is pictured after taking part in a re-enactment of the ceremonial Senate swearing-in on Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009, in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Sen. Kay Hagan gets tough on flawed Obamacare rollout

Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan is calling on federal inspectors to investigate the "unacceptable" rollout of the federal Obamacare website to examine what went wrong, who was at fault and how much it is costing to fix the mess. Published November 11, 2013

Rep. Fred Upton, Michigan Republican (Associated Press)

GOP set to jump on low Obamacare enrollment numbers

The Obama administration is set to release Obamacare enrollment data this week, figures that promise to be low and likely will feed further into Republican attempts to discredit the health care law. Published November 10, 2013

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, during the committee's hearing with contractors that built the federal government's health care websites. The contractors responsible for building the troubled website say it was the government's responsibility _ not theirs _ to test it and make sure it worked.   (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

GOP preps 'Keep Your Plan' bill after Obama health care apology

House Republicans hope President Obama will follow up his apology late Thursday to Americans losing their existing health plans by supporting a bill they are offering that will let these same people maintain their coverage for another year. Published November 8, 2013

FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2012 file photo, Jeffrey Zients testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. President Barack Obama is calling Zients to help correct problems with the new federal health care website. The White House says Zients will assist a team that is said to be working around the clock on the site,  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

White House, Republicans spar over Obamacare record

The Obama administration said Friday it is seeing mixed progress in fixing the federal Obamacare website, as Republicans piled on criticism by saying taxpayers should get a refund for the broken $400 million Internet portal and that new numbers indicate that few people have enrolled in the insurance market for the District of Columbia tied to the health care law. Published November 8, 2013

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, before the Senate Finance Committee hearing on the difficulties plaguing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act,. The massive failure at website is getting new criticism for lack of proper cybersecurity protections.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Sebelius hits the road to defend Obamacare

Hoping to boost Obamacare's popularity despite its flawed rollout, President Obama's top health official will visit Atlanta on Friday to promote the health care law's benefits and meet with people who are educating Georgians about the reforms. Published November 7, 2013

Republican Ken Cuccinelli shows defeat as his wife, Teiro, right, looks on as he gives his concession speech in Richmond, Va.,  after losing the governor's race to Democrat Terry McAuliffe Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch, Bob Brown).

Tea party group slams GOP 'establishment' over Va. losses

A leading tea party group Thursday took on "the GOP establishment" for "abandoning a winnable race in a key swing state by withholding support" for Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli. Published November 7, 2013

FILE - In this Oct. 30, 2013 file photo, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. Sebelius is returning to Capitol Hill for a fresh interrogation on the health care law, this time from senators with growing concerns about President Barack Obama's crowning legislative achievement. Sebelius was due to face questions Wednesday from the Senate Finance Committee.  (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci, File)

Sebelius: Sorry, but we won't delay Obamacare

President Obama's top health official told the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday she is responsible for the disastrous rollout of the Obamacare markets and that early enrollment numbers "are going to be very low," but ruled out delays to the law because sick Americans are relying on the reforms. Published November 6, 2013

Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner testifies Tuesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee about problems with the rollout of Obamacare. Committee Republicans have emphasized coverage cancellations and increased costs while raising questions about cybersecurity for (Associated Press)

Point person on Obamacare website assures senators on code, security

President Obama's point person in implementing the new health care law assured senators Tuesday that the federal Obamacare website is salvageable and secure, even as her agency acknowledged it had to fix software code after a man in North Carolina reported he stumbled upon another man's personal information. Published November 5, 2013

Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, greets Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, prior to her testimony before the committee on problems with the debut of the Affordable Care Act. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Obamacare official: Bugs can be fixed

Marilyn Tavenner, President Obama's point woman in implementing the new health care law, told Congress on Tuesday the new health care law is salvageable and that repairs to the federal Obamacare website will coincide with an expected rush of enrollees by early December, even as GOP lawmakers declare Obamacare a failure. Published November 5, 2013

** FILE ** Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senate Democrats kick off scrutiny of flawed health care law rollout

Sen. Tom Harkin said Tuesday that lawmakers should take a deep breath and realize the health care law may offer a lifeline to those who need it most, even if the website that links many Americans to coverage is in dire straits. Published November 5, 2013

** FILE ** Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear makes his victory speech during a election-night rally in Frankfort, Ky., on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011. (AP Photo/John Flavell)

Kentucky Obamacare plan faces problems

Kentucky has been held up as one of the success stories of Obamacare, with its state-run exchanges running well and signing up thousands for health coverage. Published November 4, 2013

The main landing page of the website is pictured on Monday, Oct. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Department of Health and Human Services)

Obamacare enrollment by paper and phone is no better than website: report

Internal memos from the Obama administration suggest Obamacare's Web problems are holding up the entire enrollment process, including the phone and paper options that President Obama and top officials are pushing as an alternative to the troubled website, according to a report by ABC News. Published November 4, 2013

President Barack Obama speaks at an Organizing for Action event in Washington, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

A whole lotta ifs, ands or buts as excuses mount for Obamacare

The systemwide defects in Obamacare mounted Monday, from compounding enrollment problems to soaring insurance cancellations to breaches of privacy, as the Obama administration struggled to contain the political damage and repair its laughingstock health care website. Published November 4, 2013