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.

Congress clears $521M to pay for National Guard costs tied to Jan. 6 attack

By: - July 29, 2021

WASHINGTON — Congress on Thursday overwhelmingly passed $521 million to reimburse the National Guard for providing 26,000 troops to protect the Capitol after the Jan. 6 riot — an unexpected expense that was poised to result in training cutbacks for Guard units across the country. The National Guard Bureau used its budget to pay for the […]

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

Bipartisan senators and Biden strike a deal on $550B in new infrastructure spending

By: - July 28, 2021

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of U.S. senators say they have worked through the sticking points on a major infrastructure package, and the Senate agreed on a procedural vote on Wednesday night to advance to debate on the proposal. That announcement came a week after Republicans blocked a test vote on the deal, with GOP senators […]

CDC says the vaccinated should wear masks indoors in areas with high infection rates

By: - July 27, 2021

WASHINGTON — Federal health officials on Tuesday urged Americans in areas of the country with the highest surges in COVID-19 infections, including parts of Iowa, to once again wear masks when they are in public, indoor settings — even if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The updated recommendations marked a sharp shift from the agency’s guidance in […]

‘There was no concern for my life’: Families losing homes despite federal eviction moratorium

By: - July 27, 2021

WASHINGTON — The national moratorium on evictions, as well as rental assistance programs, weren’t enough protection to keep Katrina Chism and her family in their suburban Atlanta home when money got tight. Chism was laid off twice during the COVID-19 pandemic, and when she fell behind on rent, she faced an initial eviction notice. She was […]

Biden administration boosts COVID-19 aid to hardest-hit regions

By: - July 22, 2021

WASHINGTON — Amid a rise in infections and hospitalizations from the surging delta variant of COVID-19, the Biden administration is boosting money and other assistance to the hardest-hit areas of the country. This week, just three states with lower vaccination rates — Florida, Texas and Missouri — accounted for 40% of all cases nationwide.  One […]

States still lag in getting assistance to struggling renters, federal data shows

By: - July 22, 2021

WASHINGTON — State and local officials disbursed $1.5 billion in rental assistance during June — more than during the entire previous five months —to help households falling behind on rent and utilities, according to U.S. Treasury data released Wednesday. That progress in getting slow-moving federal dollars to struggling renters comes as the Biden administration and […]

U.S. Senate Republicans block advance of bipartisan infrastructure plan, but talks continue

By: - July 21, 2021

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats’ attempt to start debate on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan was blocked by Republicans on a party-line vote Wednesday, as lawmakers hustle to wrap up negotiations over drafting that legislation. In the 49-51 test vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., switched his vote to “no,” a procedural move that allows […]

Biden meets with mayors and governors on infrastructure package

By: - July 14, 2021

WASHINGTON —  President Joe Biden met with a group of governors and mayors on Wednesday as he seeks to build support for a massive federal infrastructure package awaiting action from Congress. The local officials joining Biden in the Oval Office included Mayors Nan Whaley of Dayton, Ohio; Kate Gallego of Phoenix, Ariz., and Michael Hancock, […]

Chuck Schumer: Congress should legalize weed on the federal level

By: - July 14, 2021

WASHINGTON — The top Democrat in the U.S. Senate says decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level is a change that’s “long overdue,” and that he’s prioritizing that effort amid a growing number of states legalizing cannabis. To that end, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday unveiled a draft proposal for removing cannabis from the federal Controlled Substances […]

Mailboxes across from the Beaverdale post office in Des Moines.

USPS inspector general investigation targets mail delays in Baltimore and nationally

By: - July 13, 2021

WASHINGTON — Baltimore has seen some of the worst delays of the U.S. Postal Service’s national delivery woes, and the Office of Inspector General is taking a deeper look at why the city’s mail service has been particularly sluggish. During a U.S. Senate hearing Tuesday on the Postal Service’s annual budget and the agency’s delivery issues, […]

How the new, expanded federal child tax credit will work

By: - July 9, 2021

WASHINGTON — The most ambitious part of the pandemic stimulus package signed by President Joe Biden earlier this year is about to hit the bank accounts of millions of U.S. parents. Starting next week and ending in December, the vast majority of U.S. households with children will begin receiving monthly payments as a result of changes […]

Biden administration defends COVID ‘surge response teams’ after Missouri governor’s criticism

By: - July 8, 2021

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s key COVID-19 advisers on Thursday defended the administration’s strategies for boosting vaccinations in the states, after Missouri’s governor said federal door-to-door outreach efforts are not welcome there. Top Biden adviser Jeff Zients said anyone mischaracterizing the administration’s attempts is “doing a disservice to the country.” Missouri Gov. Mike Parson voiced […]