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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.

Obama rejects Supreme Court's contraception trade-off

The administration shot down the Supreme Court's effort to forge a compromise on Obamacare's contraceptive mandate, saying Tuesday that the justices' alternative proposal would set up too many hurdles for the government and insurers. Published April 12, 2016

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California says his chamber has returned from recess ready to tackle the nation's opioid epidemic. (Associated Press)

Kevin McCarthy: House ready to tackle national opioid epidemic

House GOP leaders returning from Easter break say they have a strategy for tackling the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic that's ravaging the country, though a key senator is urging them to work fast, noting his chamber sent them a bill that's "ready to go." Published April 10, 2016

FILE - In this Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016 file photo, army soldiers set up a sign that reads in Portuguese "A mosquito is not stronger than an entire country" at the Central station in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as troops across Brazil try to tackle the Zika virus. Scientists may have the first evidence that Zika causes temporary paralysis, according to a new study of patients who developed the rare condition during an outbreak of the virus in Tahiti two years ago. The research was published online Monday, Feb. 29 in the journal, Lancet.  (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo, file)

Poll finds large share of Americans know little about Zika

A large number of Americans have heard little or nothing about the Zika virus, according to a new poll Thursday that shows found most people in the U.S. are not terribly concerned about an outbreak here. Published April 7, 2016

This 2006 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito in the process of acquiring a blood meal from a human host. (James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP) ** FILE **

Zika virus: FDA extends comment period for GMO mosquito trial in Florida

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday said it will give the public an extra month to weigh in on a British company's request to release its genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys, a trial aimed at slashing the number of insects that carry Zika virus. Published April 7, 2016

FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2016 file photo, a researcher holds a container of female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes at the Biomedical Sciences Institute at Sao Paulo University in Brazil. The Zika virus is mainly transmitted through bites from the same kind of mosquitoes that can spread other tropical diseases, like dengue fever, chikungunya and yellow fever. (AP Photo/Andre Penner, File)

White House transfers nearly $600M from Ebola fight to Zika virus

The White House will redirect nearly $600 million from the Ebola fight in West Africa and other accounts to combat Zika virus, the latest big health scare, tacitly caving to GOP demands Wednesday even as it said it still wants $1.9 billion from Congress to combat the new threat. Published April 6, 2016

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., center, accompanied by, from left, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, pauses during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 5, 2016, following a policy luncheon. McConnell took questions on the potential for hearings on Merrick Garland as President Barack Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court, his relationship to Republican presidential candidates and other topics. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Senate hits budget wall with deadline looming; Mitch McConnell counts on Democrats

The Senate will likely miss the deadline for approving a federal budget, forgoing the annual blueprint that is supposed to govern all spending, and instead will write bills based on a higher dollar total than the one John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, agreed to with President Obama last year before stepping down as House speaker. Published April 5, 2016

Andy Slavitt, acting administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (Image:

CMS proposes pay raise for Medicare Advantage plans

Private insurers that offer Medicare Advantage plans will receive a nearly 1 percent raise from the federal government next year, the Obama administration announced Monday. Published April 4, 2016

FILE-In this Saturday, March 7, 2015 file photo, health workers prepare to collect the ashes of people that died due to the Ebola virus at a crematorium on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia. As Liberia marks the second anniversary Wednesday of its first confirmed Ebola cases, many neighbors say they want to see the crematorium torn down so they can try to forget that terrible time. (AP Photo/ Abbas Dulleh, File)

Probe of Ebola flareup in Liberia widens; woman traveled from Guinea after husband died

A 30-year-old woman who died from Ebola last week arrived in Liberia from Guinea, where her husband had died of unknown causes, the World Health Organization said Monday as it traced the source of a flareup that put authorities on high alert for the virus that had been nearly stamped out after a two-year outbreak in West Africa. Published April 4, 2016

Janine Santos holds her 3-month-old son Shayde Henrique who was born with microcephaly while health workers visit her home in Joao Pessoa, Brazil, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Andre Penner) ** FILE **

White House: Money isn't there to fight the Zika virus

Congress should "do its job" and take up President Obama's request for nearly $2 billion to combat the Zika virus, the White House said Friday in its most urgent plea to date for emergency funding to defend pregnant women against the mosquito-borne disease linked to serious birth defects. Published April 1, 2016

In this Jan. 27, 2016, file photo, samples of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, responsible for transmitting dengue and Zika, sit in a petri dish at the Fiocruz Institute in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC chief, says Americans 'deserve' more Zika funding

The chief of the Centers for Disease Control said Thursday the U.S. needs new funding to "provide the protection that Americans deserve" against the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne virus that's been linked to serious birth defects in Latin America and has infected hundreds in Puerto Rico. Published March 31, 2016

FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, file photo, a medical researcher uses a monitor that shows the results of blood tests for various diseases, including Zika, at the Gorgas Memorial laboratory in Panama City.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday, March 30, 2016, they are granting use of an experimental blood test to screen blood for Zika virus, an emergency step that will help protect local blood supplies from the mosquito-borne virus. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco, File)

Zika-affected areas can screen blood with experimental test: FDA

Puerto Rico and other areas with active transmission of Zika virus can use an experimental test to screen local blood donations for the mosquito-borne disease that's been linked to serious birth defects, the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday. Published March 30, 2016

The website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

Sicker-than-expected patients challenge Obamacare's viability

New Obamacare customers are sicker and costlier than customers who bought insurance before President Obama's massive health overhaul, one of the country's top insurance companies said Wednesday, giving more ammunition to critics who say the law is broken. Published March 30, 2016

In this Tuesday, March 1, 2016, photograph, Dr. Josh Blum demonstrates how to administer a dose of naloxone while conferring with the inmate at the Denver County Jail in downtown Denver. Jails and correction agencies across the country such as Denver are teaching soon-to-be-released inmates how to use the heroin overdose antidote called naloxone, either to save others and sometimes themselves. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) ** FILE **

White House unveils long list of efforts to combat opioid abuse

President Obama proposed a series of steps Tuesday to save addicts who've been swept up by the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic, from allowing doctors to perform medication-based treatment on more patients to expanding the use of an overdose-reversing drug. Published March 29, 2016

A "discussion draft" by Rep. Rob Bishop, Utah Republican, to be released Tuesday would give the House a starting point to address Puerto Rico's $70 billion plight.

House Republicans' draft legislation designed to save Puerto Rico

House Republicans will release draft legislation Tuesday designed to rescue Puerto Rico from its crippling debt crisis by imposing an oversight board to audit the U.S. territory's finances and put it on a path toward fiscal responsibility. Published March 28, 2016