The Federal Tap: Congressman Jim Hagedorn (R) passes away

Our weekly summary of federal news updates you on Congressman Jim Hagedorn’s (R) recent death and the newest congressional districts in Minnesota. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap.

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Congress is in/out of 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-nine members of Congress—six members of the U.S. Senate and 43 members of the U.S. House—have announced they will not seek re-election. Of those, thirty-three members—six senators and 28 representatives—have announced their retirement. Five retiring Senate members are Republicans and one is a Democrat, and of the retiring House members, 22 are Democrats and six are Republicans.

SCOTUS is in session

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in three cases next week. To learn about the 2021-2022 term, click here.

Where was the president last week?

Monday through Wednesday, Biden remained in Washington D.C.
On Thursday, Biden traveled to Cleveland, Ohio, where he delivered remarks on the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
On Friday, Biden remained in Washington D.C.

Federal Judiciary

  • 80 federal judicial vacancies
  • 29 pending nominations
  • 38 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. 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 Feb. 10, 2022, when U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado Judge William J. Martinez announced that he would assume senior status on Feb. 10, 2023. 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 March 18, 2022, when U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa Chief Judge John Jarvey retires. 

For historical comparison, on Feb. 20, 2021, there were 62 federal judicial vacancies and 26 upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary reported by the U.S. Courts.

Congressman Jim Hagedorn (R) passes away

Congressman Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.) passed away on Feb. 17 at the age of 59. He was battling kidney cancer.

Hagedorn’s wife Jennifer wrote, “Jim loved our country and loved representing the people of southern Minnesota. Every moment of every day he lived his dream by serving others. There was no stronger conservative in our state than my husband; and it showed in how he voted, led and fought for our country.”

Hagedorn represented Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District from 2019 until his death while in office.

A special election will take place to fill the U.S. House vacancy on Aug. 9, 2022. Democrats currently have a 222-211 majority in the House with two vacancies.

Hagedorn is the ninth member of the 117th Congress to leave office early. Two other members died, and six resigned to take other offices.

Minnesota adopts new congressional district boundaries

Minnesota enacted new congressional district boundaries on Feb. 15 when a special judicial redistricting panel issued an order adopting final maps. Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea established the five-judge special redistricting panel in June 2021 to hear legal challenges regarding redistricting and adopt maps should the legislature not agree on them.

In its unanimous order, the panel wrote, “To afford counties and municipalities time to complete local redistricting, the statutory deadline for completing congressional and legislative redistricting is ’25 weeks before the state primary election in the year ending in two.’ In this decennium, that date is Feb. 15, 2022. That date has arrived, and the legislature has not yet enacted a congressional redistricting plan. To avoid delaying the electoral process, the panel must now act.”

Briana Bierschbach and Hunter Woodall wrote in the Star Tribune, “Under the new maps, the eighth Congressional district grew larger geographically to accommodate population declines in many rural counties.” Dave Orrick of the Twin Cities Pioneer Press wrote, “The impacts of the new maps weren’t immediately clear…Since Minnesota averted losing a congressional seat, the state’s eight districts for U.S. House members don’t appear jarringly different from current maps.”

Congressional redistricting has been completed for 328 of the 435 seats (75.4%) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Food and Drug Administration delays meeting to approve coronavirus vaccine for children under 5

On Feb. 11, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced they would be delaying the meeting to review Pfizer’s application for authorization of a coronavirus vaccine for children under the age of 5. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s vaccine division, said: “The data that we saw made us realize that we needed to see data from a third dose in the ongoing trial in order to make a determination that we could proceed with doing an authorization.”

Pfizer initially requested the authorization on Jan. 31, and the FDA meeting was scheduled for Feb. 15.  The Pfizer coronavirus vaccine is currently the only vaccine to receive authorization from the FDA for use in individuals under the age of 18.

Pfizer said it expects to have booster data ready to submit to the FDA in early April. In order for an authorization from the FDA to become effective, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would also need to meet and authorize the use of the vaccine for that age group.