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 prevents shutdown, with Iowa delegation split along party lines

By: - September 30, 2021

WASHINGTON — Congress made a last-minute dash to avert a government shutdown on Thursday, with the U.S. Senate and House approving a short-term spending bill just hours ahead of a midnight deadline. In the Senate, every Democratic and independent senator and 15 Republicans supported the bill in the 65-35 vote. The GOP senators in the […]

‘Their tank is empty’: Local health officials combat staff burnout, low pay, harassment

By: - September 30, 2021

WASHINGTON — Eighteen months into the COVID-19 pandemic, state and local public health departments that were already struggling with too few workers and too little money have been pushed to the brink — and for some, beyond the brink. “My staff is burnt out, overworked and underpaid,” Dr. Mysheika Roberts, health commissioner with the Columbus Public Health […]

Senate GOP torpedoes U.S. government funding bill, raising odds of federal fiscal crises

By: - September 28, 2021

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senate Republicans blocked an attempt by Democrats on Monday evening to begin debate on a broad bill that would avert multiple looming fiscal crises for the federal government. The measure to briefly keep the government operating past the end of the fiscal year on Thursday, as well as to increase the borrowing limit […]

Who will get a booster shot? A Q-and-A about what the feds are saying

By: - September 25, 2021

WASHINGTON — Booster shots soon will begin rolling out to some Americans who received the two-shot vaccine made by Pfizer — after a contentious and confusing federal approval process that isn’t over yet. Determining who exactly should be rolling up their sleeves for an additional dose was tricky. The Biden administration had leapfrogged federal regulatory […]

U.S. House oversight panel seeks testimony from company conducting Arizona election ‘audit’

By: - September 24, 2021

WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats requested Friday that the company behind a months-long review of Arizona’s election results appear at a hearing next month, after officials from Cyber Ninjas refused to cooperate with document requests from the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee. Top Democrats on that panel, Reps. Carolyn Maloney of New York and Jamie […]

Orphaned, infected, in crisis: How the pandemic is traumatizing kids

By: - September 22, 2021

WASHINGTON — The coronavirus pandemic has brought heartbreaking consequences for millions of U.S. children, even as most avoided serious illness themselves, pediatric experts told Congress on Wednesday. Take, for instance, a young girl from Tennessee named Sophia, whose story was relayed by Dr. Margaret Rush, president of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University. Within […]

U.S. House Dems propose $28.6B in disaster aid for recovery from hurricanes, wildfires, floods

By: - September 21, 2021

WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats unveiled a short-term spending measure on Tuesday that would keep the federal government operating through Dec. 3 and provide $28.6 billion for costs related to recent natural disasters. The bill was passed by the House on a party-line vote Tuesday night, 220-211. But it faces a battle in the evenly divided Senate, […]

U.S. Supreme Court schedules Dec. 1 oral arguments in major abortion case

By: - September 20, 2021

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Dec. 1 in a case that threatens to overturn decades of abortion protections established under the landmark 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade. The upcoming case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, stems from a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks. It has […]

FDA panel backs COVID-19 booster shots only for elderly and high-risk Americans

By: - September 17, 2021

WASHINGTON — A federal health advisory panel wrestled Friday with whether to widely authorize a booster dose of Pfizer’s two-shot COVID-19 vaccine for most Americans, ultimately recommending that a third dose be offered only to older or higher-risk individuals. The Biden administration had hoped states could begin rolling out a wide national booster shot campaign […]

How House Democrats would expand Medicare and Medicaid and lower prescription drug costs

By: - September 16, 2021

WASHINGTON — New Medicare benefits for older Americans, like dental care. An expansion of eligibility for Medicaid for low-income people in Republican-controlled states that have declined to take that step. And potentially an historic effort to rein in prescription drug prices — if congressional Democrats can work through objections from moderates in their party. The massive […]

Putting on pandemic pounds: State obesity rates hit all-time highs

By: - September 15, 2021

WASHINGTON — The number of states with high obesity among residents has nearly doubled since 2018, according to new data Wednesday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were 16 states that had obesity rates among adult residents of at least 35% last year, with Iowa, Ohio, Delaware and Texas on that list for […]

Arizona attorney general first to sue over Biden vaccine mandate on private businesses

By: - September 14, 2021

WASHINGTON — Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich on Tuesday filed the first lawsuit against the Biden administration’s upcoming COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private companies with at least 100 employees, arguing that the federal requirement violates the U.S. Constitution. In the legal complaint, Brnovich argues that the vaccine mandate President Joe Biden announced last week violates the Equal Protection Clause, claiming […]