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 Virginia Mercury. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections, and campaign finance.

Biden urges Congress to act on policing reform after meeting with George Floyd family

By: - May 26, 2021

WASHINGTON — A year after George Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis police officer, his family returned Tuesday to Washington, D.C., where lawmakers have been attempting to craft a bipartisan bill to overhaul the nation’s policing laws. Congress failed to act by the anniversary of Floyd’s death — the deadline that President Joe Biden had urged lawmakers […]

Astronaut Rickey Arnold sees Hurricane Florence from the ISS. Credit: NASA

Biden allocates $1 billion to prepare for hurricane, wildfire season

By: - May 25, 2021

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is doubling the amount of federal funding to help states prepare for natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires, he announced Monday. His administration is directing $1 billion to the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program, which sends resources to communities, states, and tribal governments to prepare for extreme weather events. […]

Electric buses, asphalt and bridges: Politicians jostle for federal transportation cash

By: and - May 24, 2021

WASHINGTON — The nearly $1 billion that U.S. Rep. Garret Graves is seeking through Congress’ revamped earmarks process isn’t a typo. The Louisiana Republican says Baton Rouge desperately needs a new bridge to alleviate a crush of roadway congestion — at a cost of $955.2 million for several projects. That far exceeds the $20 million that […]

Not one usable vaccine so far out of Baltimore plant with multi-million-dollar federal contract

By: - May 20, 2021

WASHINGTON — Angry U.S. House Democrats on Wednesday had one key question as they grilled executives of a Maryland biotech manufacturer forced to dump 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine: Has there been one usable vaccine dose produced as a result of the $271 million paid to date by the U.S. government? […]

CDC: You can ditch the mask in most places, indoors and out, if fully vaccinated

By: - May 13, 2021

WASHINGTON — Americans fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to wear a mask in most situations, indoors and outdoors, federal health officials said in an updated set of recommendations Thursday that marks a major turning point in the pandemic. The announcement is a shift from earlier federal guidance, which had urged people who are vaccinated to continue […]

CDC signs off on Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids 12 to 15

By: - May 12, 2021

WASHINGTON — A federal advisory panel is recommending that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine be administered to adolescents between 12 and 15 years old, making it the first shot available to those under 16. The green light granted Wednesday afternoon by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine advisory panel was affirmed swiftly by the agency’s top […]

Law enforcement officials urge action against rising numbers of ‘ghost guns’ during Senate hearing

By: - May 12, 2021

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has promised a crackdown on so-called “ghost guns,” and during a U.S. Senate hearing Tuesday, law enforcement officials from Pennsylvania and Maryland described how an exponential increase in those firearms — which are easily assembled from kits and not subject to federal gun laws — has expanded the workload of their […]

Federal recovery cash starts rolling out to states, cities, counties: Virginia gets $4.3 billion

By: - May 11, 2021

WASHINGTON — States, cities and counties can begin to tap their share of the $350 billion in federal funds intended to spur a national recovery from the economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, White House officials announced Monday. The Biden administration said the much-anticipated money, which was included in the massive relief law enacted earlier this […]

States with higher vaccine demand will be able to request more from the feds

By: - May 4, 2021

WASHINGTON — With demand for COVID-19 vaccines dropping in many states, the federal government is changing how those doses are allocated. Under the new policy, any doses that a state doesn’t request from its weekly, population-based allotment will be held in a general pool, and states with higher demand can request additional shots from that surplus. […]

Biden calls for sweeping ‘once-in-a-generation investment’ to reshape the nation

By: - April 29, 2021

WASHINGTON — Standing in the same House chamber where a violent mob temporarily disrupted the certification of his victory, President Joe Biden on Wednesday heralded the country as “on the move again” as he sketched out his expansive vision for a post-pandemic America. Biden in his first address to a joint session of Congress touted quick […]

Census data kicks off partisan brawl in statehouses over U.S. House seats

By: - April 28, 2021

WASHINGTON — The announcement of which states will lose and gain U.S. House districts in 2023 was the opening bell for the cutthroat, once-a-decade process of redrawing district boundaries. The results of the state-level fights now unfolding will shape not only the partisan makeup of each congressional delegation, but also help determine whether Democrats can […]

No mask needed outdoors if you’re vaccinated, except among crowds, CDC says

By: - April 27, 2021

WASHINGTON — Fully vaccinated Americans do not need to wear a mask outdoors except in crowded settings, federal health officials said Tuesday as they updated recommendations for how vaccinated individuals can safely resume normal activities. Those who are at least two weeks past receiving their final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine can safely be unmasked at small […]