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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** A container for birth-control pills designed to look like a woman's compact is displayed. (Associated Press)

Conservatives to Obama White House: Pay for contraceptives yourself

Conservatives took a victory lap Tuesday, celebrating a Supreme Court decision one day prior that called on the Obama administration to find ways to insure birth control without forcing closely held corporations to do it in their health plans. Published July 1, 2014

** FILE ** Keith Saunders, left, a certified Cover California insurance agent, explains a health insurance plan to Mark Tammes at a registration site hosted by Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers, Monday, March 31, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

IG: Obamacare markets foul up eligibility and verification parts of applications

Republican lawmakers on Tuesday seized on audits that suggest Obamacare's new health exchanges are ill-equipped to verify applicants' identities and eligibility for government subsidies — findings that breathe new life into fears the Web-based program is not secure and cannot function properly. Published July 1, 2014

Customers walk to a Hobby Lobby store in Oklahoma City, Monday, June 30, 2014. The Supreme Court ruled Monday that employers can hold  religious objections that allow them to opt out of the new health law requirement that they cover contraceptives for women. The Hobby Lobby chain of arts-and-crafts stores is by far the largest employer of any company that has gone to court to fight the birth control provision. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Democrats eye Hobby Lobby defeat as a weapon on the campaign trail

Democrats are hoping to turn a high-profile Obamacare loss before the Supreme Court into a political win ahead of November midterms, urging donors and women voters to help them reverse the decision to let closely held corporations duck a White House mandate to cover birth control as part of company health plans. Published July 1, 2014

** FILE ** This June 18, 2014, file photo shows acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson speaking in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

Paperwork issues at N.Y. offices reveal more bad news for VA

Staff at Veterans' Affairs offices in New York failed to accurately process nearly a third of disability claims examined by the department's Inspector General, a report that casts an even hotter spotlight on problems at the VA. Published June 30, 2014

** FILE ** In this Wednesday Jan. 22, 2014, file photo, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford attends a budget committee at City Hall in Toronto. Rob Ford's lawyer said on Wednesday, April 30, 2014, that Ford will take a leave of absence to seek help for substance abuse. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn, File)

Toronto's Rob Ford returns to work 'a new man'

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will return to work Monday as "a new man" — at least according to his brother-turned campaign manager — after a two-month break to deal with lifestyle issues that rocketed him to fame for all the wrong reasons. Published June 30, 2014

** FILE ** This Oct. 5, 2011, photo, provided by the U.S. Navy, shows Vice Adm. Michael Rogers. (AP Photo.U.S. Navy)

New NSA director says Snowden leaks are manageable: report

The new director of the National Security Agency says the damage done by famed leaker Edward Snowden is manageable and does not lead him to think the "sky is falling," even if some terrorist groups have tweaked their communication strategies, The New York Times said. Published June 30, 2014

"As we plan for open enrollment in year two and continue to build a sustainable long-term system, we are committed to simplifying the experience for consumers by allowing auto-enrollment," Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell. "We are working to streamline the process for consumers wishing to remain in their current plan." 
 (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Administration: Renewing Obamacare easier than enrolling

The Obama administration said Thursday most Obamacare federal exchange customers will be able to easily re-enroll in their current plans at the end of this year, offering a convenience that they hope will help head off the kinds of disruptions that plagued the overhaul's initial rollout late last year. Published June 26, 2014

FILE - This photo released on Friday, Dec. 20, 2013 by the Massachusetts State Police shows some of the 1,250 packets of heroin labeled "Obamacare" and "Kurt Cobain" which state police troopers confiscated during a traffic stop in Hatfield, Mass. Four people were charged with heroin trafficking. (AP Photo/Massachusetts State Police)

Obamacare mired by lawsuits challenging fundamentals

The Supreme Court will rule sometime before the end of this month on the Obama administration's contraceptive mandate, but bigger challenges to Obamacare are still winding their way through the courts. Published June 25, 2014

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. listens to testimony regarding social security and disability benefits, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 10, 2014. Four Social Security judges are facing accusations they rubber-stamped claims for disability benefits, approving billions of dollars in payments from the cash-strapped program. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Rep. Darrell Issa: IRS has done little for its reputation over last few days

The House's top investigator said Tuesday the relationship between congressional Republicans and the IRS was "not improved" by agency Commissioner John Koskinen's "disappointing performance" late Monday, as members of Congress probe what happened to emails that could be key to their investigation of political targeting at the revenue agency. Published June 24, 2014