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 Kansas Reflector. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections, and campaign finance.

Biden pick to lead FDA fields questions over pharma ties, abortion pill, COVID tests

By: - December 15, 2021

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Food and Drug Administration drew praise from a top Senate Republican, as well as critical questions from conservatives and others during a Tuesday confirmation hearing. Robert Califf fielded queries on his ties to the pharmaceutical industry, the pandemic-loosened rules around abortion drugs, and frustrations involving COVID-19 rapid […]

CDC: 25 states report omicron strain of COVID-19, but delta remains biggest threat

By: - December 10, 2021

WASHINGTON — Twenty-five states have identified cases of the new omicron variant of COVID-19, federal public health officials said Friday as they released new data on the first 43 U.S. cases. Of those initial, confirmed cases, more than half were among people between the ages of 18 and 39, according to Rochelle Walensky, director of the […]

Kansas’ Bob Dole remembered at U.S. Capitol ceremony for public service, sense of humor

By: - December 9, 2021

WASHINGTON — Former U.S. Sen. Robert J. Dole arrived at the U.S. Capitol for the final time on Thursday, for a Rotunda ceremony in which former colleagues and congressional leaders from both parties honored the life and career of the late Kansas political icon.  President Joe Biden and others remembered Dole — who died Sunday at […]

U.S. Senate rejects Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private employers

By: - December 9, 2021

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate passed a resolution Wednesday night to block President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on private employers, with every Republican and two Democrats casting votes aimed at preventing that pending requirement. Democratic Sens. Jon Tester of Montana and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia joined with the GOP in backing the […]

At-home COVID tests to be covered by insurance — but details still to come

By: - December 2, 2021

WASHINGTON — State health officials on Thursday welcomed the Biden administration’s plan to require private health insurers to reimburse Americans for the cost of rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests — though the officials also raised questions about whether the process will be burdensome. Making those tests more accessible will allow Americans to get results quickly and […]

Biden to unveil plan to blunt potential COVID surge this winter

By: - December 2, 2021

WASHINGTON — Reimbursements for at-home rapid COVID-19 tests. Tougher testing requirements for international travelers. More emergency response teams to aid states combating infection spikes.  And another big push to get Americans vaccinated. Those are the latest steps to fight COVID-19 that President Joe Biden will announce Thursday, according to senior administration officials who briefed reporters Wednesday […]

U.S. Supreme Court considers new limits on abortions in Mississippi case

By: and - December 1, 2021

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is weighing potentially sweeping changes to the right to an abortion, after two hours of arguments Wednesday morning on a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The court’s conservatives, who hold a 6-3 majority, appeared through their questions to be sympathetic to Mississippi’s arguments that its […]

Vaccine mandate for health care workers halted nationwide by Louisiana judge

By: and - November 30, 2021

WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Louisiana on Tuesday issued a ruling blocking nationwide the Biden administration mandate requiring millions of health care workers be vaccinated against COVID-19. A suit challenging the mandate was led on behalf of multiple states by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, a Republican, and U.S. Judge Terry Doughty granted the […]

Federal vaccine mandate for health care workers in 10 states, including Kansas, blocked by judge

By: - November 29, 2021

WASHINGTON — Enforcement of the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for millions of health care workers was blocked in 10 states on Monday, after a ruling by a federal judge in Missouri. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp affects the states involved in the lawsuit, which include Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and New Hampshire. The […]

New COVID omicron variant ‘not a cause for panic,’ Biden says

By: - November 29, 2021

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden sought to reassure Americans on Monday about the latest COVID-19 variant, describing it as “a cause for concern, not a cause for panic.” Biden did not announce any new travel restrictions or other federal actions during his brief remarks from the White House. Instead, he urged Americans to get a booster […]

How paid leave, a tax cut for the rich and more could get axed from Biden’s social policy bill

By: and - November 23, 2021

WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats cheered on the floor of the U.S. House after approving President Joe Biden’s massive social spending and climate bill. But a major struggle lies ahead in the coming month in the U.S. Senate, where Democrats cannot lose any votes within their party if they are to send the so-called Build Back Better […]

House Democrats pass Biden’s $1.85 trillion ‘Build Back Better’ plan

By: , and - November 19, 2021

WASHINGTON — U.S. House Democrats united around a landmark $1.85 trillion social spending and climate bill on Friday, sending the major plank of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda to the Senate. Democratic leaders in the House heralded the 220-213 near party-line vote on the so-called Build Back Better bill, touting its provisions on child care, […]