Arizona redistricting commission approves new congressional districts

Congress is in session

Both the House and Senate are in session next week. Click here to see the full calendar for the second session of the 117th Congress.

Forty-seven members of Congress—six members of the U.S. Senate and 41 members of the U.S. House—have announced they will not seek re-election. Thirty-two members—six senators and 26 representatives—have announced their retirement. Five retiring Senate members are Republicans and one is a Democrat, and of the retiring House members, 20 are Democrats and six 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 traveled from New Castle, Delaware, to the White House.

On Tuesday, Biden received the Weekly Economic Briefing.

On Wednesday, Biden held a press conference.

On Thursday, Biden met with members of the Infrastructure Implementation Task Force to discuss delivering results from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

On Friday, Biden did not have any events scheduled.

Federal Judiciary

  • 79 federal judicial vacancies
  • 32 pending nominations
  • 33 future federal judicial vacancies

Upcoming Article III Judicial Vacancies

According to the latest vacancy data from the U.S. Courts, there were 33 total announced upcoming vacancies for Article III judgeships. The earliest vacancy announcement was on Jan. 22, 2021, when U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland Judge Ellen Hollander announced she would assume senior status upon the confirmation of her successor. The most recent was on Jan. 12, 2022, when U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit Judge Gregg Costa announced that he would retire on Aug. 5, 2022. Twenty-two 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 Feb. 14, 2022, when U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Judge Virginia Phillips assumes senior status. 

For historical comparison, on Jan. 23, 2021, there were 49 federal judicial vacancies and five upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary reported by the U.S. Courts.

Arizona redistricting commission approves new congressional districts

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission voted 3-2 in favor of the state’s new congressional district boundaries. The commission’s nonpartisan chairwoman joined the group’s two Republican members in voting in favor of the map, and the commission’s two Democratic members were opposed. The commission previously voted in favor of the congressional map by a 5-0 vote on Dec. 22, 2021, which was followed by a period for counties to request administrative changes before the final vote on Jan. 18.

The commission is responsible for drawing both congressional and state legislative district lines and is composed of five members. Of these, four are selected by the majority and minority leaders of each chamber of the state legislature from a list of 25 candidates nominated by the state commission on appellate court appointments. The fifth member of the commission must belong to a different political party than the other commissioners.

At the time of the map’s enactment, Democrats held five U.S. House seats in Arizona, and Republicans held four. The Arizona Republic‘s Ray Stern wrote, “The new map, should it withstand legal challenges, favors Republicans in five — and possibly six — of the state’s nine districts.”

Kentucky adopts new congressional map after legislature overrides gubernatorial veto

Kentucky adopted new congressional district boundaries on Jan. 20 after the general assembly overrode Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) veto of legislation establishing the state’s new congressional map. Beshear vetoed Senate Bill 3 —the congressional redistricting legislation —on Jan. 19. The vote to override the governor’s veto was 26-8 in the state Senate, with 23 Republicans and three Democrats voting in favor and five Democrats and three Republicans opposing it. The override vote was 64-24 in the state House, with all votes in favor cast by Republicans. Twenty-one Democrats and three Republicans voted to sustain Beshear’s veto.

In his veto statement, Gov. Beshear wrote, “I am vetoing Senate Bill 3 because it was drafted without public input and reflects unconstitutional political gerrymandering…Plainly, this map is not designed to provide fair representation to the people of Kentucky and was not necessary because of population changes.”

After Beshear’s veto, Kentucky House Speaker David Osborne (R) issued a statement that said, in part, “We are disappointed that the Governor has chosen to again veto lawfully enacted legislation. He is wrong on the facts, wrong on the law, and he knows it. This proposal meets all legal considerations. We will use our legislative authority to override this veto.”

Senate Bill 3 was introduced on Jan. 4 with the Senate voting in favor, 28-4, on Jan. 6 and the House approving, 65-25, on Jan. 8.

Twenty-eight U.S. senators running for re-election, six retiring

With Sens. Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) and John Thune’s (R-S.D.) recent announcements that they will seek re-election, all incumbent senators up for re-election in 2022 have made their decisions. Twenty-eight senators are seeking re-election—15 Republicans and 13 Democrats. Six senators are retiring—five Republicans and one Democrat. This is the highest number of Republicans not seeking re-election since at least 2012. 

In every election cycle within that time until the current one, either two or three Republican senators did not seek re-election. The number of retiring Democrats has ranged from zero to six.

The six open races in 2022 are in Alabama, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. Republicans hold the Senate seat in all states except Vermont. Three of the open Senate races—in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Ohio—have at least one competitive rating (Toss-up, Tilt Republican, or Lean Republican) from three election forecasters.

Our battleground Senate races list currently consists of eight states: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Democrats and Republicans each hold four of the battleground seats going into the elections.

Democrats have an effective majority in the Senate, with each party holding 50 seats and Vice President Kamala Harris (D) serving as the tie-breaking vote.

Looking back at Joe Biden’s first year in office

One year ago, Joe Biden (D) assumed office as the 46th president of the United States. Here’s a closer look at the first year of his administration:

  • Biden issued 77 executive orders, 46 presidential memoranda, 195 proclamations, and 26 notices. Biden’s 77 executive orders issued in his first year is higher than the average number of executive orders issued each year by other recent presidents. Donald Trump (R) issued 55 on average each year, Barack Obama (D) issued 35, and George W. Bush (R) issued 36.
  • We tracked five pieces of key legislation proposed before Congress during Biden’s first year, two of which he has signed into law. Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into law on March 11, 2021. The bill aimed to provide economic relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The second key bill that became law was the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, which provided funds to build new infrastructure, invest in Amtrak, and repair and replace bridges, among other things. Biden signed the bill into law on November 15, 2021.
  • Since taking office, Biden has nominated 81 individuals to federal judgeships on Article III courts. As of January 20, 2022, 42 of the nominees have been confirmed. The monthly federal vacancy count report from January 1 said 11 of Biden’s confirmed judges were for the U.S. Court of Appeals, while 29 were for the U.S. District Courts. At the same point during previous presidential administrations, Trump had appointed 19 federal judges, Obama had appointed 13, and W. Bush had appointed 28.
  • During Biden’s first year, he issued no presidential pardons or commutations. During fiscal year 2017, Trump issued one pardon and no commutations. Obama and W. Bush issued no pardons or commutations during the first fiscal year of their presidencies.