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 The Missouri Independent. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections, and campaign finance.

Biden administration opens civil rights investigation into states banning school mask mandates

By: - August 30, 2021

WASHINGTON — Federal education officials have launched civil rights investigations in five Republican-led states that have prohibited school districts from mandating mask-wearing, saying those policies could amount to illegal discrimination against students with disabilities. The Biden administration notified the education chiefs in Iowa, Tennessee, South Carolina, Utah and Oklahoma of the investigations through formal letters Monday. The new investigations will examine whether “students […]

Supreme Court rejection of eviction ban increases pressure to dole out rental aid money

By: - August 27, 2021

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of the Biden administration’s last-ditch effort to extend a federal ban on evictions has put hundreds of thousands of American renters at risk of losing their housing — and is increasing pressure on states and localities to get rental assistance dollars distributed faster. In an eight-page majority opinion […]

House Democrats advance budget resolution, overcoming standoff over infrastructure vote

By: - August 25, 2021

WASHINGTON — Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday muscled through a $3.5 trillion budget framework, overcoming a standoff with a handful of centrists who had demanded the House first approve the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the Senate. That position by 10 House Democrats — including Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, […]

A man in a red shirt is shown standing and speaking to a woman seated at a table outside a COVID-19 vaccination clinic Thursday in Columbia.

FDA grants full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 shot, now known as ‘Comirnaty’

By: - August 23, 2021

WASHINGTON — The U.S. has its first fully approved vaccine against COVID-19, with federal health officials announcing Monday the approval of Pfizer-BioNTech’s two-dose vaccine. The green light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to move Pfizer’s vaccine from emergency use to full approval is a milestone in the national pandemic response, and one that comes as […]

Biden faces down GOP governors on school mask bans

By: - August 20, 2021

WASHINGTON — With eight states so far prohibiting schools from levying mask requirements, President Joe Biden is pledging that his administration will use all of its oversight and legal authority to stick up for local officials trying to keep their schools safe. What remains to be seen is how far the federal government can or will […]

Biden mandates nursing homes require COVID vaccine or lose Medicare, Medicaid funds

By: , and - August 18, 2021

WASHINGTON — Nursing homes will be required to ensure their staffers are vaccinated against COVID-19, or risk losing federal Medicare and Medicaid dollars, the Biden administration announced Wednesday in a major move on vaccinations as the Delta variant sweeps many states. Under the new nursing home policy, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services […]

COVID-19 booster shots to roll out starting next month

By: - August 18, 2021

WASHINGTON — Top U.S. health officials announced a plan Wednesday to begin offering COVID-19 booster shots to Americans starting Sept. 20, with the scheduling of the additional shot to be based on when a person was fully vaccinated. The new round of jabs will be extended to those who received the two-dose vaccine from either Pfizer or Moderna, and can be […]

Afghan evacuees to arrive in the U.S. through Virginia and Wisconsin military bases

By: - August 17, 2021

WASHINGTON — The first U.S. stop for the nearly 2,000 Afghan interpreters and other refugees evacuated so far amid the collapse of the Afghan government has been central Virginia’s Fort Lee military base. Tapped for its East Coast location and its ability to quickly ramp up to serve as a temporary host installation, the Army base […]

Trump allies’ lingering election ‘audits’ spark public skepticism, concerns in Congress

By: - August 5, 2021

WASHINGTON — The months-long, Republican-led investigation in Arizona into the results of last year’s presidential election has cost millions of dollars and produced no evidence yet of major issues in tallying Maricopa County ballots. Yet supporters of former President Donald Trump are still attempting to follow Arizona’s lead by pushing for so-called audits in several […]

After pressure from Cori Bush, feds order eviction ban in areas with high COVID rate

By: and - August 4, 2021

WASHINGTON — Federal health officials on Tuesday announced a new, narrower moratorium on evictions through Oct. 3, which would protect struggling renters in areas of the U.S. that have been hit hardest by soaring COVID-19 infection rates. The targeted eviction ban comes days after a federal moratorium in place since September expired on Saturday. The Biden administration […]

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

By: - July 30, 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 […]

U.S. Senate agrees to move ahead 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 […]