Author

Laura Olson

Laura Olson

Laura Olson covers the nation's capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections, and campaign finance.

FDA panel recommends booster shot of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine

By: - October 15, 2021

WASHINGTON — Millions of Americans who received Moderna’s two-shot COVID-19 vaccine are expected to be eligible soon for booster shots, after a federal advisory panel on Thursday recommended a third dose for older and higher-risk adults as well as certain workers. The unanimous recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration vaccine panel came a few […]

Why there’s such an impasse in Congress: Some questions and answers

By: and - October 5, 2021

WASHINGTON — Congress may have kept the federal government operating with an 11th-hour flurry of votes on Thursday, but several key pieces of the Democratic agenda remain in limbo. Here are some questions and answers on where negotiations stand with two massive Democratic-drafted bills — and the status of other looming challenges for federal lawmakers:  What […]

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

By: - October 4, 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 […]

Congress passes bill to prevent government shutdown, send out $28.6B in disaster aid

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. Every Democratic and independent senator and 15 Republicans supported the bill in the 65-35 vote. The GOP senators in the “aye” tally included […]

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? Q&A about what the feds are saying

By: - September 23, 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 panels in […]

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

By: - September 23, 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 pass $28.6B in disaster aid for recovery from hurricanes, wildfires, floods

By: - September 22, 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 […]

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

By: - September 21, 2021

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on 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 […]

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

By: - September 20, 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 that states could begin rolling out a wide national booster shot […]

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

By: - September 17, 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 […]

Billions of dollars in federal rental aid remains stalled in slow-moving states, localities

By: - September 13, 2021

WASHINGTON — Make it simpler to apply for rental assistance money. Allow landlords to apply on behalf of unresponsive tenants. And consolidate two overlapping federal programs aimed at getting financial help to struggling renters. Those were among the proposals that U.S. House members weighed during a hearing Friday on how to better help states and localities […]