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 Florida Phoenix. 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 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 […]

National parks refine ticketed-entry systems to manage visitor boom

By: - July 29, 2021

WASHINGTON — Watching the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain at Maine’s Acadia National Park is a gorgeous view — so breathtaking that on some days, as many as 500 cars could be found vying for the scenic overlook’s 150 parking spots. That competition has become more manageable since Acadia officials began using a reservation system in May, […]

Bipartisan senators and Biden agree on $550B in 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, paving the way for a vote to begin debate as soon as Wednesday evening. That announcement came a week after Republicans blocked a test vote on the deal, with GOP senators opposed to beginning […]

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 to once again wear masks when they are in public, indoor settings — even if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That would include Florida, according to CDC data. The updated recommendations marked a sharp shift from the […]

‘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 […]

Feds: Florida, Missouri, Texas account for 40 percent of all COVID-19 cases this week

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 percent of all cases nationwide. […]

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 housing advocates have been scrambling […]

Capitol

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 hustled 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 […]

marijuana plant

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 as a growing number of states legalize cannabis. To that end, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday unveiled a draft proposal for removing cannabis from the […]

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 […]

‘We all have to do better’: White House urges locals to boost eviction diversion programs

By: - July 2, 2021

WASHINGTON — With a national moratorium on evictions set to expire at the end of next month and delays in federal assistance for struggling renters, the Biden administration says it wants to help state and local officials aid Americans on the brink of eviction. To that end, the administration on this week highlighted efforts in Michigan and Philadelphia […]