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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** Supreme Court choice Sonia Sotomayor speaks to President Obama during an announcement on May 26, 2009, in the East Room of the White House. (Associated Press)

Obamacare mandate takes effect; court's move on contraception clouds milestone

The "individual mandate" requiring Americans to have health insurance, a giant political issue for most of President Obama's tenure, finally takes effect Wednesday with hardly a passing notice — though the law's contraception rules drew renewed scrutiny from a Supreme Court justice late Tuesday. Published December 31, 2013

FILE - In this Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, file photo, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the difficulties plaguing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Experts say it will take at least a year for small businesses to know how the law and its computer glitches will affect them. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Sebelius touts Obamacare as 'new day'

President Obama's top health official said Tuesday that 2014 marks a "new day in health care for millions of Americans," with more than 2 million people having enrolled in a private plan as of Saturday and nearly 4 million finding out they're eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program through the end of November. Published December 31, 2013

President Barack Obama laughs as he is asked a question during an end-of-the year news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. At the end of his fifth year in office, Obama's job approval and personal favorability ratings have fallen to around the lowest point of his presidency. Obama will depart later for his home state of Hawaii for his annual Christmas vacation trip. It's the first time in his presidency that his departure plans have not been delayed by legislative action in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Sebelius: 2014 marks 'new day' for Obamacare

Brushing aside Obamacare’s ongoing problems, the president’s top health official said Tuesday that 2014 marks a “new day in health care for millions of Americans,” with more than 2 million people having enrolled as of Saturday and nearly 4 million learning in the first two months of the rollout that they’re eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Published December 31, 2013

** FILE ** Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, before the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Enrollment on federal Obamacare market crests at 1 million

The Obama administration says more than 1 million people have signed up for private insurance through the federal marketplace, a December-heavy surge in enrollment following the disastrous launch of that began in October and bled into November. Published December 30, 2013

** FILE ** In this Dec. 11, 2013, file photo, Rosemary Cabelo uses a computer at a public library to access the Affordable Health Care Act website, in San Antonio. The Obama administration says following a December surge, more than 1.1 million people have now enrolled for health insurance through the federal government's improved website. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Hypocrisy of the Left: Foes of Mitt Romney excuse endless Obamacare waivers

Little more than a year ago, the health care conversation was whether a potential President Mitt Romney could use executive powers to halt some or all of Obamacare. Now, it's President Obama himself who has made extensive use of those powers, leaving the GOP to accuse him and his defenders of hypocrisy. Published December 29, 2013

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has backed religious freedom, but whether the Supreme Court would favor the rights of businesses in Obamacare's contraception mandate is difficult to determine. (Associated Press)

Supreme Court position on Obamacare birth control mandate a tough call

When the Supreme Court next year decides whether the Obama administration can force for-profit companies to insure birth control, the punditry around abortion or the "war on women" will be overshadowed by legal precedent and acts by Congress that weigh religious liberty against government mandates, legal scholars say. Published December 25, 2013

President Obama signals quiet during a speaking appearance.

Obama secretly buys health care he won't use — but not from government website

The Obama administration issued yet another delay to the president's signature health care law Monday — this time, offering an extra day's grace period for people to finish signing up to ensure they have coverage Jan. 1, when the mandate requiring all Americans to have insurance takes effect. Published December 23, 2013

**FILE** Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican (Associated Press)

GOP lawmaker: NSA spying in U.S. could have prevented 9/11

Members of Congress remain divided on whether to rein in the National Security Agency's broad collection of phone records, with one Democrat saying the Founding Fathers would be "astounded" by the snooping program, while an outspoken New Yorker insisted that the program is fine and could have prevented the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Published December 22, 2013

U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., right, shakes hands with members of the Northeast Regional Troopers Coalition, Monday, Dec. 16, 2013 in Concord, N.H. King is considered a possible presidential candidate for 2016. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

NSA snooping may have stopped 9/11 attack: Rep. Peter King

Congressman Peter King offered an unapologetic defense Sunday of the National Security Agency's broad collection of phone records, saying the spying agency has not abused its power and that 2001 terrorist attacks might have been prevented if the tool had been in place then. Published December 22, 2013

FILE - In this Sept. 27, 2013, file photo, MNsure insurance exchange representatives Carlos Villanueva, left, and Emily Joyce prepare for the Oct. 1 open enrollment debut at the center in St. Paul, Minn. The federal government hasn’t released comprehensive data on how many people have signed up for health insurance in the 36 states using federally run exchanges, and in the 14 states running their own exchanges, lack of enrollment numbers also makes it hard to say if Obamacare is a success. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

Report finds improving numbers for Obamacare coverage

A new report contends that enrollment in Obamacare's insurance exchanges has reached at least a half-million people, a key measure as the Obama administration attempts to sell its law to a skeptical public and to Republicans increasingly critical of changes to the law's implementation. Published December 20, 2013

This photo taken Dec. 12, 2013 shows House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaking during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Republican leaders and several hard-right groups are in the throes of a bitter political divorce marked by name-calling and deep suspicions. The eagerness of Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to lash out at groups that have given them fits for the past few years has unshackled others in the Republican ranks, who bluntly question the motivation of organizations such as the Senate Conservatives Fund, Heritage Action, Madison Project and Club for Growth.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Boehner joins the fight to delay Obamacare for everyone

House Speaker John A. Boehner has joined fellow Republican leaders in calling for a full delay of Obamacare for everyone, after the White House tweaked the law once more on Thursday by allowing people who recently lost coverage to buy a catastrophic plan if they cannot afford a better one on the law's health exchanges. Published December 20, 2013

** FILE ** Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, is surrounded by reporters after talking about the final work of the Senate as the legislative year nears to a close, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Sen. Harry Reid goes to hospital as a precaution

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was not feeling well Friday morning and decided to go to the hospital, where he will remain as a precaution, his office said. Published December 20, 2013

Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

Latest Obamacare delay faces swift GOP criticism

Republican lawmakers are hitting back at the Obama administration's decision late Thursday to let Americans claim a hardship exemption and buy catastrophic coverage if they cannot afford a regular health plan on one of Obamacare's health exchanges. Published December 20, 2013

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, before the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the implementation failures of the Affordable Care Act. Playing catch-up with a long way to go, President Barack Obama's new health insurance markets last month picked up the dismal pace of signups, the administration reported Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Sebelius adds yet another exemption for Obamacare

A group of Democratic senators are taking heart in signals by the Obama administration Thursday that people who lost their existing health plans because of Obamacare's requirements will be eligible for an exemption that lets them purchase a catastrophic plan. Published December 19, 2013