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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.

In this Dec. 17, 2015, photo, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. speaks during an end-of-the-year news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House to open with vote to repel Obamacare law

Congressional Republicans will kick off 2016 with a vote to repeal Obamacare, but they are still struggling to figure out the next steps in replacing President Obama's health insurance overhaul, which, while suffering growing pains, now provides coverage to millions of Americans. Published January 4, 2016

FILE - In this June 25, 2015, file photo, students cheer as they hold up signs, outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, supporting the Affordable Care Act after the Supreme Court decided that the ACA may provide nationwide tax subsidies. Republican foes of President Barack Obama’s health care law may be able to get more by chipping away at it than trying to take the whole thing down at once. That’s the lesson of the budget deal passed by Congress and signed by the president on Dec. 18. It delayed a widely-criticized tax on high-cost employer health insurance plans that hasn’t taken effect yet. And it temporarily suspended two taxes on industry already being collected, which are also part of the health law. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

HHS: 3 in 5 Obamacare customers shopped around for 2016 plan

A greater share of Obamacare customers logged back onto HealthCare.gov to shop around and select a new plan for 2016 than in last year's renewal period, the administration said Wednesday, casting it is as a sign that more people are heeding its advice to seek out the best deal in the federal marketplace. Published December 30, 2015

A kit with naloxone, also known by its brand name Narcan, is displayed at the South Jersey AIDS Alliance in Atlantic City, N.J., on Feb. 19, 2014. An overdose of opiates essentially makes the body forget to breathe. Naloxone works by blocking the brain receptors that opiates latch onto and helping the body "remember" to take in air. (Associated Press) **FILE**

9 in 10 prescribed opioids even after overdose: Study

More than 9 out of every 10 patients who survive a prescription-opioid overdose are able to get the drugs again, usually from the same prescriber, according to a study published Tuesday that underscores the uphill battle that state and federal leaders face in fighting a national drug epidemic. Published December 29, 2015

President Obama has acquiesced to Congress' fiscal tweaks but has fended off every effort to repeal or cut benefits from his health care law. (Associated Press)

Without any benefit cuts, Obamacare costs to rise

President Obama has managed to defend his signature health care law's generous system of taxpayer-funded benefits from attacks in Congress and the courts, but Capitol Hill is finally beginning to eat away at Obamacare's financial foundations. Published December 28, 2015

The HealthCare.gov website is busier than ever, the Health and Human Services Department reports. (Associated Press/File)

HealthCare.gov activity reaches record high as end of year approaches

Obamacare sign-ups on the federal HealthCare.gov website are running 2 million ahead of last year's pace, with 8.2 million so far, the administration announced Tuesday, saying demand has surged as customers rush to have coverage in place before the new year. Published December 22, 2015

FILE - In this July 28, 2015, file photo, Erica Canaut, center, cheers as she and other anti-abortion activists rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas, to condemn the use in medical research of tissue samples obtained from aborted fetuses. Texas announced Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, that it was cutting off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood clinics following undercover videos of officials discussing fetal tissue, potentially triggering a legal fight like the one unfolding in neighboring Louisiana. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Obama admin. agrees to fetal-tissue research probe amid Planned Parenthood backlash

The Health and Human Services Department's inspector general has agreed to probe how the Obama administration funds and oversees research involving fetal tissue, according to Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who drew a straight line Tuesday between the audit and undercover videos that appeared to show Planned Parenthood officials negotiating the sale of fetal body parts. Published December 22, 2015

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, cajoled 150 from his party to join Democrats in voting for the spending measure, earning more support from his usually rebellious troops than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, was able to manage in the more staid upper chamber. (Associated Press)

Republican leaders win tax battles, party unity despite concessions

Republican leaders closed their first year in complete control of Congress with an impressive show of support among their members for spending and tax cuts, avoiding a government shutdown and demonstrating striking party unity despite being unable to rein in President Obama's expansive agenda. Published December 20, 2015

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks to reporters and members of the Communication Workers of America (CWA), following the union's endorsement of Sanders, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015, at the CWA's headquarters in Washington.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Bernie Sanders' spat with DNC over Hillary Clinton's campaign data breach stretches on

Sen. Bernard Sanders' bizarre spat with the Democratic National Committee stretched into a fourth day Sunday, with the grass-roots contender for the 2016 nomination tempering apologies for staff who breached his rival's campaign files with new swipes at the party's leaders, saying they've treated him unfairly. Published December 20, 2015

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell speaks in Washington on July 28, 2014. (Associated Press) **FILE**

HealthCare.gov grabs 6 million customers

Roughly 6 million people selected a health plan on HealthCare.gov in time to be covered on Jan. 1, the Obama administration said Friday, boasting of a "very strong start" to the Obamacare signup season that outpaces last year's effort to beat a crucial mid-December deadline. Published December 18, 2015

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks with reporters after the Senate gave sweeping approval to a year-end budget package that boosts federal agency spending and awards tax cuts to both families and an array of business interests, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. President Obama will sign the measure, which includes many of the spending increases he fought for all year and is largely free of GOP attempts to block his moves on the environment, financial regulation, and consumer protection.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Sen. Mitch McConnell takes 2015 victory lap

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell closed out his first year in charge of the Senate with a victory lap Friday, saying bipartisan passage of a spending and tax-relief package caps a productive year in the upper chamber after years of gridlock. Published December 18, 2015

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. gestures during an end-of-the-year news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015, as the Congress moves toward passage of a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Congress passes $1 trillion spending bill, dodges shutdown crisis

Congress cleared a nearly $2 trillion package to fund the government and extend popular tax breaks while increasing the federal deficit by hundreds of billions, angering conservatives even as a host of Republicans linked arms with Democrats to usher the compromise to President Obama's desk and avert a Christmastime crisis. Published December 18, 2015