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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.

Scientists capture Aedes aegypti mosquito larvae in an attempt to contain the Zika virus in Puerto Rico and elsewhere. (Associated Press)

Zika-infested Puerto Rico faces blood shortage, looks to U.S. mainland

Puerto Rico, already reeling from a man-made financial crisis, could have "tens of thousands" of infections from the Zika virus, which has been linked to a serious birth defect, imposing an economic toll and forcing the island to import blood supplies from mainland donors, the Obama administration's top scientists said Wednesday. Published February 17, 2016

In this July 30, 2015, file photo, a sign supporting Medicare is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington as registered nurses and other community leaders celebrate the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Government, private insurers find common ground on quality health care

The Obama administration on Tuesday trumpeted an "historic" effort to standardize how private insurers and government programs like Medicare determine if a patient is getting quality care, saying doctors had been overwhelmed by a dizzying array of yardsticks. Published February 16, 2016

This is a Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, file photo of aedes aegypti mosquitoes in a mosquito cage at a laboratory in Cucuta, Colombia. The World Health Organization says it may be necessary to use controversial methods like genetically modified mosquitoes to wipe out the insects that are spreading the Zika virus across the Americas.  (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan, File)

WHO looks for new ways to wipe out mosquitoes, Zika

The World Health Organization on Tuesday encouraged countries hit by the Zika virus to think outside the box and consider new techniques to wipe out the pesky mosquito populations that are carrying the disease across Latin America. Published February 16, 2016

One of the dozens of cases awaiting decisions by the Supreme Court in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia's death involves a Christian college that could be forced to provide contraceptive health care coverage to its employees. (Associated Press/File)

Scalia's death shakes contraception mandate, other high-profile court cases

A Christian college in Pennsylvania could be forced to provide contraceptive health care coverage to its employees or else pay massive fines, but a school in Iowa would be shielded from Obamacare's contraceptive mandate if the Supreme Court deadlocks, 4-4, in one of the major cases pending this term. Published February 15, 2016

Scalia's death ignites election-year fight over Supreme Court vacancy

Congressional bigwigs and the presidential field brushed aside their condolences Sunday and girded for an election-year fight over how and when to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the colorful conservative justice who died over the weekend. Published February 14, 2016

In this Oct. 6, 2015, file photo, the website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Milwaukee wins Obamacare signup contest, visit from president

President Obama will visit Milwaukee in the coming weeks to celebrate its winning effort in a tourney to see which city could drive its uninsured population into the Obamacare marketplace, the White House said Friday. Published February 12, 2016

CDC Director Thomas Frieden testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on emerging health threats and Zika virus supplemental request.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

CDC chief: Link between Zika, birth defect 'increasingly certain'

Evidence that the Zika virus causes serious birth defects is growing stronger by the day, the head of the Centers for Disease Control said Thursday as he lobbied Congress to approve President Obama's $1.8 billion request to the fight the rapidly spreading disease at home and abroad. Published February 11, 2016

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, before the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the fiscal 2017 HHS budget. Burwell has ashes on her forehead, Wednesday being Ash Wednesday.  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

HHS: Look at uninsured rate, not Obamacare signups

President Obama's top health official told Congress Wednesday that Obamacare is making "historic" strides, even if 2016 enrollment on its web-based exchanges amounted to little more than half of what budget scorekeepers initially projected. Published February 10, 2016

House Speaker Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 4, 2016, as he announces the formation of six committee-led task forces charged with developing agendas on national security, tax reform, jobs, health care reform, elimination of poverty, and more. Ryan also pledged that House Republicans will schedule time this year to vote on legislation reforming the criminal justice system. (Associated Press) **FILE**

GOP eyes Obamacare replacement by summer

Speaker Paul D. Ryan has instructed his health care task force to "go big and go bold" in its push to replace Obamacare with a clear GOP alternative for voters this year -- preferably before Congress breaks this summer for the 2016 party conventions, a powerful House Republican said Wednesday. Published February 10, 2016

Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican (Associated Press) **FILE**

Tax forms pose new wrinkle in Congress's 'Obamacare exemption'

Capitol Hill lawmakers and staff are receiving tax-reporting forms that describe Congress as a large employer subject to Obamacare's "employer mandate," even as the administration describes the massive law-making body as a small business in other paperwork. Published February 10, 2016

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, decried his Republican colleagues for what he said is a weak response on clearing funds to fight Zika and the Flint, Michigan, lead-poisoned water problem. (Associated Press)

Democrats say Republicans not serious on Zika, Flint lead

Senate Democrats accused the GOP majority Tuesday of paying lip service to lead-poisoned families in Michigan and waffling in its response to the Zika virus that's threatening U.S. shores, signaling they will use both crises as a prism for each party's philosophy on federal intervention. Published February 9, 2016

President Barack Obama meets with members of this national security team and cybersecurity advisers in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington,Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. At right is Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Obama uses budget to bolster his health care legacy

President Obama used his final budget proposal Tuesday to try and shore up his health care legacy before he leaves office, tweaking Obamacare's contentious "Cadillac" tax and enticing holdout states to expand Medicaid even as he targets a devastating heroin epidemic that's got the attention of both parties. Published February 9, 2016

With the first case of sexual transmission confirmed in the U.S. last week, the White House announced Monday that President Obama will request $1.8 billion in emergency funding to fight Zika at home and abroad. (Associated Press)

White House requests $1.8 billion from Congress to fight Zika virus

The World Health Organization said Monday it wants to fast-track a better test for the Zika virus as dozens of countries cope with yet another scary pandemic, saying doctors on the front lines should at least be able to single out the disease from similar infections in hard-hit Latin America. Published February 8, 2016