Our weekly summary of federal news highlights the latest congressional retirement and a federal judge blocking the Biden administration’s federal contractor vaccine requirement. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap.
Congress is out of 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.
Members of Congress not seeking re-election in 2022
Thirty-seven members of Congress—six members of the U.S. Senate and 31 members of the U.S. House—have announced they will not seek re-election. Twenty-two members—six senators and 16 representatives—have announced their retirement. Five retiring Senate members are Republicans and one is a Democrat, and of the retiring House members, 11 are Democrats and five are Republicans.
SCOTUS is out of session
The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments next week. To learn about the 2021-2022 term, click here.
Where was the president last week?
On Monday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C.
On Tuesday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C. and held a call with President of Russia Vladimir Putin.
On Wednesday, Biden delivered remarks on the bipartisan infrastructure law in Kansas City, Missouri.
On Thursday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C.
On Friday, Biden departed Washington, D.C., for Wilmington, Delaware.
- 79 federal judicial vacancies
- 26 pending nominations
- 37 future federal judicial vacancies
Upcoming Article III Judicial Vacancies
According to the latest vacancy data from the U.S. Courts, there were 38 total announced upcoming vacancies for Article III judgeships. The earliest vacancy announcement was on Jan. 21, 2021, when U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas Judge Vanessa Gilmore announced that she would retire on Jan. 2, 2022. The most recent was on Dec. 9, 2021, when U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit Judge Diane Wood announced she would assume senior status upon the confirmation of his successor. Twenty-one vacancy effective dates have not been determined because the judge has not announced the date they will leave the bench.
The next upcoming vacancy will occur on Dec. 27, when U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon Judge Michael Mosman assumes senior status.
For historical comparison, the week of Dec. 6-12, 2020, there were 56 vacancies and five upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary reported by the U.S. Courts.
Federal court blocks Biden administration’s federal contractor vaccine requirement
On Dec. 7, U.S. District Court Judge Stan Baker, who was appointed to the court by former President Donald Trump (R), suspended enforcement of the federal government’s vaccine requirement for federal contractors. The lawsuit was filed by several federal contractors and seven states, led by Georgia.
President Joe Biden (D) issued the requirement as an executive order on Sept. 9, requiring federal contractors to comply with certain safety guidelines issued by a federal taskforce. Those guidelines included a requirement that federal contractors’ employees be vaccinated against the coronavirus by Jan. 18, 2022.
A similar order was issued on Nov. 30 in a separate lawsuit challenging the requirement, but it only applied to three plaintiff states: Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee. The order in Georgia’s suit suspending the requirement applies nationally since one of the federal contractors party to the suit does business nationwide.
This is the third federal vaccine requirement to be suspended by the courts, along with Biden’s vaccine requirements for healthcare workers and large companies.
Republican Congressman Devin Nunes announces retirement
On Dec. 6, U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes (R) announced he would not seek reelection in 2022 and will instead become CEO of Trump Media & Technology Group, a social media company founded by former President Donald Trump (R).
From 2003 to 2013, Nunes represented California’s 21st Congressional District. In 2012, he ran for election in California’s 22nd Congressional District, winning the general election and assuming office on Jan. 3, 2013.
Thirty-seven members of Congress—six members of the U.S. Senate and 31 members of the U.S. House—have announced they will not seek re-election. Twenty-two members—six senators and 16 representatives—have announced their retirement. Five retiring Senate members are Republicans and one is a Democrat. Of the retiring House members, 11 are Democrats and five are Republicans.
Fifteen U.S. House members are running for other offices. Four Republicans and four Democrats are seeking seats in the U.S. Senate, one Republican and two Democrats are running for governor, one Republican is running for secretary of state, one Democrat is running for mayor, and one Democrat and one Republican are running for attorney general. No U.S. Senate members are running for other offices.
Maryland enacts new congressional district maps after legislature overrides governor’s veto
Maryland enacted new congressional district maps on Dec. 9 after both chambers of the Democratic-controlled state legislature overrode Gov. Larry Hogan‘s (R) veto of the plan. The vote to override the veto was 96-41 in the House of Delegates and 32-14 in the state Senate.
According to David Collins of WBAL-TV, “The map allows Democrats to hold seven of the state’s eight congressional seats and the First District on the Eastern Shore, held by Republican Rep. Andy Harris, becomes more competitive.” Legislators approved the congressional district plan developed by the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission and rejected a map proposal developed by the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission, a citizen commission formed by Gov. Hogan.
Also, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Texas on Dec. 6, alleging the state’s newly enacted congressional and legislative maps violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
“The Legislature refused to recognize the state’s growing minority electorate,” the Department of Justice’s complaint states. “Although the Texas congressional delegation expanded from 36 to 38 seats, Texas designed the two new seats to have Anglo voting majorities.”
The lawsuit is the first legal action the department has taken against a state in the 2020 redistricting cycle. We tracked lawsuits in 37 states related to redistricting following the 2010 census. So far, 22 states have adopted legislative district maps and 19 states have adopted congressional district maps.