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Tom Howell Jr.

Tom Howell Jr.

Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected].

Articles by Tom Howell Jr.

** FILE ** In this Jan. 7, 2013, file photo, President Barack Obama shakes hands with Defense Secretary-nominee, former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais. File)

Richard Shelby's switch has Chuck Hagel on verge of confirmation

Republican Sen. Richard C. Shelby said Thursday he will support Chuck Hagel's bid to become secretary of defense, nudging the contentious pick to the verge of confirmation even as 15 Republicans senators were urging President Obama to abandon his pick to run the Pentagon. Published February 21, 2013

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (Associated Press)

Fla. Gov. Scott will expand Fla. Medicaid program

Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday became the latest Republican to green-light the expansion of Medicaid under the President Obama's health-care law, a move that follows in the footsteps of other state leaders who opposed the president's reforms and then accepted federal dollars to insure more low-income residents. Published February 20, 2013

**FILE** Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican (Associated Press)

GOP lawmakers join legal fight against Obama contraception mandate

Eleven Republican members of Congress are challenging the contraception insurance mandate in President Obama's health care law by formally backing Hobby Lobby, the Oklahoma-based chain of crafts stores whose owners say they must choose between their Christian beliefs and insuring women's birth control and other preventative services. Published February 20, 2013

Nonprofits take contraception issue to court

Religious nonprofits have begun to respond in court to the plan the Obama administration offered this month to shelter them from a mandate requiring certain employers to insure contraception — and it's probably not what the White House wanted to hear. Published February 19, 2013

Thomas Monaghan founded Ave Maria University near Naples, Fla., which has been granted flexibility from the Obama administration in regards to contraceptive insurance coverage. (Associated Press)

Obamacare and birth control: Religious ties split coverage

Religious employers battling the Obama administration in court over a mandate in the president's health care law requiring them to offer contraceptive and birth control insurance to their employees could summarize their arguments neatly by pointing to the founder of Domino's Pizza. Published February 18, 2013

Sen. Johnny Isakson, Georgia Republican

Administration: Health care exchanges will be up and running on Oct. 1

Republicans and Democrats warned Thursday that with major parts of President Obama's health law scheduled to go live later this year, the Obama administration had better get it right the first time — or else risk permanently scarring the White House's signature achievement. Published February 14, 2013

Republicans vow to hold out for data before vote on Hagel

Democrats pressed ahead Wednesday with Chuck Hagel's nomination to be secretary of defense, scheduling a showdown vote for Friday even as top Republicans signaled that they need more information before confirming him for the Pentagon's top civilian post. Published February 13, 2013

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, waits Feb. 12, 2013, on Capitol Hill to make a statement in opposition to President Obama's choice to run the Pentagon as the Senate Senate Armed Services Committee considers the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska to be secretary of defense. (Associated Press)

Party-line vote sends Pentagon pick Hagel to Senate floor

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted Tuesday along party lines to recommend the nomination of Chuck Hagel as the next secretary of defense, setting up a showdown in the full chamber as outspoken Republicans threatened to thwart the former Nebraska senator's nomination. Published February 12, 2013

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York speaks at a news conference after being elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during the conference's annual fall meeting Tuesday in Baltimore. It marked the first time since the 1960s that the sitting vice president was not elected.

Concession on birth control not sufficient, bishops say

America's Catholic bishops on Thursday rejected President Obama's latest contraception mandate upon religiously affiliated hospitals, schools and charities, saying the rules still don't ensure that people won't be forced to pay for contraceptives to which they morally object. Published February 7, 2013

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York said that President Obama has not responded to a letter he wrote about the Catholic Church's concerns. (Associated Press)

Catholics bishops: Obama contraception compromise not enough

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said Thursday that President Obama's recent attempt to mollify religious objections to covering contraception as part of his signature health law has fallen short of addressing their concerns. Published February 7, 2013

"Each state has its own unique needs. We have different budgets and revenue streams," said Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin. (Associated Press)

GOP governors warily OK expanding Medicaid

Republican governors are warming to the expansion of Medicaid under President Obama's health care law, but their cooperation comes with a common plea to the administration — keep your promises and give us a little flexibility in our backyards, or else the deal is off. Published February 7, 2013

Rep. Charles W. Dent, Pennsylvania Republican (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

Centrist Republicans push long-term budget fix

Centrist House Republicans say they still want Congress to fix the nation's financial problems through a long-term grand bargain, warning its "ping-pong ball" method of propping up the economy from month to month will end in a crisis that will force even more unpleasant decisions on them. Published February 5, 2013

Sebelius: 'Help us speed up' health care rollout

President Obama's health care law is "here to stay," but cannot fulfill its promise if states do not expand Medicaid and the uninsured do not take advantage of the benefits designed to put coverage within reach of millions more Americans, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Monday. Published February 4, 2013

**FILE** President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius leave the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington on Feb. 10, 2012, after the president announced the revamp of his contraception policy requiring religious institutions to fully pay for birth control. (Associated Press)

Obama admin. easing contraception mandate in health law

The Obama administration on Friday rolled out a revised rule that gives religious institutions the option to divorce themselves from a mandate in the president's health care law that requires insurance plans to cover contraception for their employees. Published February 1, 2013

** FILE ** Rep. Sam Graves, Missouri Republican and chairman of the Small Business Committee. (Associated Press)

Top Republican hits health care law's burden on small businesses

A key House Republican is warning that the mandate in President Obama's health care law requiring companies with more than 50 employees to provide adequate health insurance to their workers is so cumbersome that even the parts designed to help firms with compliance will cause headaches. Published February 1, 2013

**FILE** Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican (Associated Press)

Bipartisan bill seeks to alter Obamacare

A Republican and a Democrat teamed up Wednesday to announce a bill to dissolve part of President Obama's health care law that critics say skews some of the benefits to hospitals in Massachusetts, at the expense of other states. Published January 30, 2013