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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.

Rep. Ron DeSantis, Florida Republican, is among those members of Congress who received a "100 percent" rating in his voting record for supporting conservative legislation.  (Associated Press)

House GOP won't force Obamacare on staffers

Senate Republicans' vote this week to make their staffers use the Obamacare exchanges has put the spotlight on their House colleagues, who refused to do the same in a vote earlier this year, leaving them in a tenuous political position. Published December 11, 2014

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian president, thanks Congress for Ebola aid

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf expressed "profound gratitude" Wednesday to U.S. government and aid workers fighting Ebola in her country, saying American leadership set off a domino effect that brought global aid to West African countries reeling from the viral disease. Published December 10, 2014

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (Associated Press/File)

Congress axes D.C. marijuana legalization in spending plan

A voter approved ballot initiative legalizing marijuana in the District and a council-passed measure decriminalizing the drug fell victim to federal budget negotiators, who inserted an amendment into a massive $1.1 trillion spending bill that effectively restores criminal penalties for pot possession in the nation's capital. Published December 9, 2014

Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber said the health care bill was written in a "tortured" way to ensure the Congressional Budget Office didn't score the individual mandate as a tax, even though the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately upheld the mandate as constitutional under Congress' taxing power. "Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage," Mr. Gruber said at the time. "And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to get the thing to pass." (Associated Press)

Gruber to face hostile House panel, tea party 'I'm with Stupid' T-shirts

A tea party group said its members will greet Jonathan Gruber, the man at the center of Obamacare's troubled public image, with T-shirts reading "I'm with Stupid" when he shows up to defend himself Tuesday before what's likely to be a hostile congressional panel. Published December 8, 2014

Obamacare supporters have labeled it the "primary care cliff," and say it would be a disaster for the health of 22 million poor Americans if the country goes over the Sept. 30 deadline without finding more money for the programs. "It will precipitate a huge crisis in primary care," said Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent. (Associated Press)

Obamacare nears 'primary care cliff,' with programs serving poor set to expire

Republicans won't need to lift a finger to make a dent in at least three Obamacare programs. The trio of primary care programs, which serves poor Americans, is due to expire at the end of this fiscal year unless Congress finds more funding. But keeping the programs alive could be a tough sell amid a political climate still sour on President Obama's signature health law. Published December 7, 2014

Ebola health care workers carry the body of a man suspected of dying from the Ebola virus in a small village Gbah on the outskirts of  Monrovia, Liberia, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014. A U.N. peacekeeper who contracted Ebola in Liberia will be flown to the Netherlands for treatment, a Dutch Health Ministry spokeswoman said Friday.  (AP Photo/ Abbas Dulleh)

U.N. warns of Ebola outbreak's aftermath

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Friday that Ebola is devastating West African economies that had been "vibrant and growing" before the outbreak hit, and that more than 3,000 children have been orphaned because of the virus. Published December 5, 2014

Passage of a defense bill would put an official stamp on the contentious debate over how and where to recognize World War I by authorizing sculptural and landscape changes to Pershing Park, named for WWI Gen. John J. Pershing, so it can honor American soldiers who fought in the 1914-1918 war. (Washington Times)

Defense bill would create WWI memorial

A massive defense bill introduced in Congress contains a provision that would designate Pershing Park in the District as a national World War I memorial, putting an official stamp on the contentious debate over how and where to recognize the Great War. Published December 3, 2014

Health spending rose 3.6 percent in 2013

Health spending grew by 3.6 percent last year, the lowest mark recorded in the last half-century as modest growth tracks with an economy that's still recovering from the recession, the Obama administration said Wednesday. Published December 3, 2014