Biden signs three CRA bills repealing Trump-era rules

Welcome to the Thursday, July 8, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Biden signs three Congressional Review Act bills repealing Trump-era rules
  2. Redistricting review: Virginia House of Delegates candidate sues over 2021 elections using existing maps
  3. Lander wins Democratic primary for New York City comptroller

Biden signs three Congressional Review Act bills repealing Trump-era rules

President Joe Biden (D) signed three Congressional Review Act (CRA) bills on June 30, reversing three administrative rules implemented near the end of the Donald Trump (R) administration. 

Signing these bills brings the total number of rules repealed under the CRA to 20. These CRA bills are the first Congress has used to reverse regulatory actions taken by a Republican president.

  • The first bill, S.J.Res.13, reversed a Trump-era Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rule that changed what information the agency would share with companies accused of discrimination.
  • The second bill, S.J.Res.14, reversed a Trump-era Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) methane rule and restored methane emissions standards set during the Barack Obama (D) administration.
  • The third bill, S.J.Res.15, reversed a Trump-era U.S. Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) rule that changed regulations governing banks that give money to third parties to lend to borrowers. 

The Congressional Review Act is a federal law passed in 1996 that creates a 60-day review period during which Congress, by passing a joint resolution of disapproval later signed by the president, can overturn a new federal agency rule.

The law defines days under the CRA as days where Congress is in continuous session, so the estimated window to block any end-of-term regulatory activity from the Trump administration was between Feb. 3 and April 4. Congress had until then to introduce CRA resolutions to block regulatory activity that occurred between Aug. 20, 2020, and Jan. 3, 2021. 

Since the law’s creation in 1996, Congress has used the CRA to successfully repeal 20 rules published in the Federal Register. Before 2017, Congress had used the CRA successfully one time, to overturn a rule on ergonomics in the workplace in 2001. In the first four months of his administration, President Trump signed 14 CRA resolutions from Congress undoing a variety of rules issued near the end of Barack Obama’s (D) presidency. Congress ultimately repealed 16 rules in total using the CRA during the Trump administration.

Interested in learning more about the Congressional Review Act? Click here to take our Learning Journey on the topic.

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Redistricting review: Virginia House of Delegates candidate sues over 2021 elections using existing maps

Here’s an update on what’s happening with redistricting across the country. Today, we’ll take a look at updates from Virginia, Utah, and Wisconsin.

Virginia: On June 28, Paul Goldman, a Democratic candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates, filed suit against Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and the Virginia State Board of Elections (among other state officials), asking that a U.S. District Court declare the Nov. 3, 2021, elections for the House of Delegates invalid, limit the terms of delegates elected in 2021 to one year, and order new elections to take place in 2022. Because members of the House of Delegates serve two-year terms, a court order to this effect would result in elections in three consecutive years: 2021, 2022, and 2023.

Because of the delayed release of U.S. Census redistricting data, redistricting authorities in Virginia were unable to draft new legislative district maps for this year’s elections. Consequently, existing maps will remain in force. Goldman argues that conducting the 2021 elections under the existing maps violates both the state and federal constitutions. Citing Cosner v. Dalton, a 1981 decision in which a federal court ordered the terms of delegates elected in 1981 under invalid maps be limited to one year, Goldman is asking that the court limit the terms of delegates elected in 2021 to one year and schedule elections under new maps in 2022.

Utah: On June 30, the Utah State Legislature announced an anticipated timeline for congressional and state legislative redistricting. Under that timeline, the Legislative Redistricting Committee will hold public hearings in September and October and adopt final maps before Thanksgiving.

Wisconsin: Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R) petitioned the Wisconsin Supreme Court to reverse a lower court’s ruling that barred them from hiring private attorneys in anticipation of challenges to the redistricting process. The court set a July 8 deadline for briefs from all parties involved in the matter.

On April 29, Dane County Circuit Judge Stephen Ehlke ruled against Vos and LeMahieu and in favor of the plaintiffs, four Madison, Wisc., residents who argued that state law prohibits legislative leaders from hiring attorneys from outside the Wisconsin Department of Justice before a lawsuit has been filed. Vos and LeMahieu appealed that decision to a state appellate court, which declined to stay Ehlke’s original order. This prompted the present appeal pending before the state supreme court.

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Lander wins Democratic primary for New York City comptroller

We’re continuing our coverage of the June 22 New York City primaries with an update on the city comptroller race. Before we get to that, here’s a brief update on the city’s mayoral Democratic primary.

On July 6, the New York City Board of Elections (BOE) released the second set of unofficial RCV results for the Democratic primary, which included a majority of the 125,000 absentee ballots not included in the first release. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams defeated former New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia in the eighth and final round by roughly 8,400 votes, 50.5% to 49.5%. Up to 3,699 defective ballots, if cured, remained to be counted. Click here to read more.

In the comptroller race, Brad Lander won the Democratic primary. The race was called after the New York City BOE released ranked-choice voting tabulations on July 6. Those tabulations included early voting ballots, election day ballots, and most absentee ballots. Voters were allowed to rank up to five candidates on their ballots.

As of Wednesday morning, Lander had 51.9% of the vote after 10 rounds of tabulation, followed by Corey Johnson at 48.1%, with 24,683 votes separating them. Johnson, whose endorsers included Democratic Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Ritchie Torres, along with the United Federation of Teachers, conceded the race Tuesday night.

Lander is a member of the New York City Council and a co-founder of the council’s Progressive Caucus. He received endorsements from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and The New York Times

The comptroller’s duties include performing audits of city agencies and managing five public pension funds. The next comptroller will also oversee how federal stimulus money issued in response to the pandemic is spent. The general election is on Nov. 2.

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