Our weekly summary of federal news highlights the 2020 U.S. Census and a vaccine mandate for the military. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap.
U.S. Census Bureau releases 2020 data necessary to begin redistricting process
The U.S. Census Bureau released block-level data from the 2020 census on Aug. 12. The data includes county-level demographic information on the ethnic, racial, and age makeup of neighborhoods across the country and will allow states to begin the process of drawing congressional and state legislative district maps.
The Bureau will also release a complete tabulated version of the census dataset on Sept. 30. In addition to drawing district maps, federal agencies and local governments use census data for allocating funds and other planning and decision-making processes.
Here are some overall findings from the data, as described in the Bureau’s press release:
- “The 2020 Census showed that the adult (age 18 and older) population group grew 10.1% to 258.3 million people over the decade.”
- “The population of U.S. metro areas grew by 9% from 2010 to 2020, resulting in 86% of the population living in U.S. metro areas in 2020, compared to 85% in 2010.”
- “The 2020 Census used the required two separate questions (one for Hispanic or Latino origin and one for race) to collect the races and ethnicities of the U.S. population. … Building upon our research over the past decade, we improved the two separate questions design and updated our data processing and coding procedures for the 2020 Census. These changes reveal that the U.S. population is much more multiracial and more diverse than what we measured in the past.”
Defense secretary sets mid-September deadline for military vaccination requirement
On Monday, Aug. 9, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a memo he would require military personnel to get a COVID-19 vaccine by mid-September. Austin said he could move up the timeline for military members to get vaccinated if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a vaccine before the middle of September.
Currently, the FDA has only granted Emergency Use Authorization to three vaccines—Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson—in use in the United States. Without full FDA authorization, Austin would need to seek a waiver from President Joe Biden (D) to enact a vaccine mandate.
In a statement, Biden said he supported the vaccine mandate.
In recent weeks, several governors have announced they would require state employees to get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing, including governors in California, Maryland, and Virginia.
Representative Ron Kind announces retirement
On Aug. 10, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D) announced he would not run for re-election in 2022. Kind, who has represented Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District since 1997, said he had “run out of gas” after 13 terms in office, but said “I’m not done. We have 16 months to go. I’m going to break the tape, as they say.”
A former state prosecutor for the La Crosse County District Attorney’s Office, Kind won his House seat in the 1996 election against James E. Harsdorf with 52% of the vote. He is a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means and was first assigned to that committee in 2011. In the 2020 general election, Kind defeated challenger Derrick Van Orden (R) by less than 3% after winning re-election in 2018 against Steve Toft (R) by nearly 20%.
Kind is the fourth Democrat to announce their retirement this year, including Ann Kirkpatrick (D), Cheri Bustos (D), and Filemon Vela (D). A total of 16 U.S. House members have announced they will not seek re-election so far this year, with six retiring and 10 seeking other offices.
Ballotpedia’s polling index shows presidential approval at 50%, congressional approval at 22%
Ballotpedia’s polling index showed President Joe Biden (D) at 50% approval and 44% disapproval as of Aug. 12. At this time last month, his approval rating was at 53%.
The highest approval rating Biden has received during his tenure is 55%, last seen on May 26. His current approval rating of 50% is the lowest he has received.
Congressional approval is at 22% and disapproval is at 60%, according to our index. At this time last month, congressional approval was at 32%.
The highest approval rating the 117th Congress has received is 36%, last seen on July 16. The lowest approval rating it has received is 16%, last seen on July 29.
At this time during the tenure of former President Donald Trump (R), presidential approval was at 38% and congressional approval was at 14%. To see more comparisons between Biden and Trump administration polling, click here.
Are Congress and the Supreme Court in session?
Both the House and Senate are out of session next week. Click here to see the full calendar for the first session of the 117th Congress.
The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments next week. To learn about the 2020-2021 term, click here.
Where was the president last week?
On Monday, Biden remained in Wilmington, Delaware.
On Tuesday, Biden returned to Washington, D.C., from Wilmington, Delaware.
On Wednesday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C.
On Thursday, Biden departed Washington, D.C., for Wilmington, Delaware.
On Friday, Biden departed Wilmington, Delaware, for Camp David, Maryland.
- 84 federal judicial vacancies
- 22 pending nominations
- 32 future federal judicial vacancies