Author

Laura Olson

Laura Olson

Laura covers the nation's capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom, a network of nonprofit outlets that includes Iowa Capital Dispatch. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections, and campaign finance.

The fight for the presidency comes down to millions of uncounted mail ballots in battleground states

By: - November 4, 2020

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump prematurely declared victory early Wednesday morning, but the outcome of a razor-thin presidential contest actually depends on key battleground states that are trying to finish tallying millions of remaining mail ballots. Here are some questions — and answers — about what’s going on in those states: Why is the counting […]

Democrats struggle for U.S. Senate control after failing to knock off GOP incumbents

By: - November 4, 2020

WASHINGTON — Democrats gained at least one Republican-held seat in the U.S. Senate, but also lost a seat of their own and were unable to defeat several GOP incumbents in the elections, ending up early Wednesday with an increasingly challenging path to wresting control of the chamber away from Republicans. The initial results showed a […]

U.S. Justice Department to send staff to monitor polling places in 18 states

By: - November 2, 2020

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Justice will have staffers on the ground in 44 counties and cities across 18 states on Election Day, monitoring for violations of federal voting-rights laws — fewer states than in 2016. The localities this year are in battlegrounds like Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Arizona, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. […]

Struggle for control of the U.S. Senate enters its final tense hours

By: - October 30, 2020

WASHINGTON — Democrats have a shot at winning the White House, capturing the Senate majority and keeping their hold on the House — an election result that could dramatically shift the policy agenda away from the gridlock that’s gripped the nation’s capital for years. In the Senate, the clearest route to that outcome is through […]

States struggle to draft COVID-19 vaccine plans while in the dark on details, funding

By: - October 26, 2020

WASHINGTON — Across the hundreds of pages of plans that state officials sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on distributing and tracking the yet-to-be-approved COVID-19 vaccines, there are more questions so far than answers on how exactly vaccine programs will be carried out. Yet states will be on the front lines for […]

Trump in final debate slams pandemic aid as a ‘big bailout’ for blue cities and states

By: - October 22, 2020

WASHINGTON — Asked during Thursday’s final presidential debate about why another round of economic relief hasn’t been approved to aid unemployed Americans and struggling local governments, President Donald Trump and his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, pointed fingers at opposite ends of the U.S. Capitol. Trump blamed House Democrats for the stalemate over another coronavirus stimulus […]

Barrett nomination advances to the U.S. Senate floor with a GOP-only vote

By: - October 22, 2020

WASHINGTON — Republicans on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, as Democrats boycotted the markup in a show of protest. The 12 Republicans on the panel speedily voted on Barrett’s nomination, including Iowa Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, and sent it […]

Witnesses pro and con testify on Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation

By: - October 15, 2020

WASHINGTON — A family physician and a former law clerk were among those who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday as the panel wrapped up its consideration of whether Judge Amy Coney Barrett should be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Dr. Farhan Bhatti was tapped by Democrats who have portrayed Barrett’s appointment […]

Ernst highlights Supreme Court nominee Barrett’s decision upholding abortion clinic buffer zones

By: - October 13, 2020

After Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett fielded repeated questions throughout Tuesday’s confirmation hearing about her personal views on abortion, U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst asked Barrett to once more explain how she would approach the issue as a judge. Barrett, a devout Catholic conservative, told Ernst — an Iowa Republican who described herself as “pro-life” […]

Supreme Court nominee Barrett to Grassley: No one has asked me to rule against the health care law

By: - October 13, 2020

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley asked Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Tuesday whether she has made any promises to vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, as he sought to counter arguments from Democratic senators that she would unravel the landmark health care law. Barrett told the Iowa Republican that no one in the […]

American flag flying with U.S. Capitol in the background.

How the Chamber of Commerce learned to love House Democrats

By: - October 11, 2020

Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives two years ago by winning competitive districts like the Iowa seats of Reps. Cindy Axne and Abby Finkenauer. Now Axne and Finkenauer are among nearly two dozen House Democrats to benefit in their reelection battles from rare U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsements, to the shock and […]

Supreme Court confirmation hearings to plow ahead amid COVID-19 infections

By: - October 9, 2020

Federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett will face the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee beginning Monday for what’s expected to be an unusual and contentious four days of hearings on her nomination for the Supreme Court. Democrats sought unsuccessfully to block those hearings, raising concerns about the short time frame before Election Day, the urgent need to […]