Bill Flores announces 2020 retirement

Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) announced that he would not seek re-election in 2020. He was first elected to represent Texas’ 17th Congressional District in 2010, and he won re-election in 2018 by more than 15 points. In a statement announcing his retirement, he cited a desire to spend more time with his family.
Flores is the 13th Republican member of the U.S. House and the fifth representative from Texas to announce he would not be seeking re-election in 2020. There are also three Democratic members of the U.S. House to announce 2020 retirements so far.
Currently, Democrats hold a 235-197 majority in the U.S. House. There is also one independent member and two vacant seats in the chamber. In November 2020, all 435 seats will be up for election. Ballotpedia has identified 71 U.S. House races as general election battlegrounds. Of the 71 seats, 43 are held by Democrats and 28 are held by Republicans heading into the election.
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OIRA reviewed 48 significant regulatory actions in August 2019

In August 2019, the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) reviewed 48 significant regulatory actions issued by federal agencies. The agency approved the intent of all 48 rules while recommending changes to their content.
OIRA reviewed 35 significant regulatory actions in August 2018—13 fewer rules than the 48 significant regulatory actions reviewed by the agency in August 2019. During the Obama administration from 2009-2016, OIRA reviewed an average of 43 significant regulatory actions each August.
OIRA has reviewed a total of 283 significant rules so far in 2019. The agency reviewed a total of 355 significant rules in 2018 and 237 significant rules in 2017.
As of September 3, 2019, OIRA’s website listed 123 regulatory actions under review.
OIRA is responsible for reviewing and coordinating what it deems to be all significant regulatory actions made by federal agencies, with the exception of independent federal agencies. Significant regulatory actions include agency rules that have had or may have a large impact on the economy, environment, public health, or state and local governments and communities. These regulatory actions may also conflict with other regulations or with the priorities of the president.
Every month, Ballotpedia compiles information about regulatory reviews conducted by OIRA. To view this project, visit the link below.

Trump appointed second-most federal judges through September 1 of a president’s third year

Donald Trump appointed and the Senate confirmed 146 Article III federal judges through September 1, 2019, his third year in office. This is the second-most Article III judicial appointments through this point in a presidency of all presidents dating back to Theodore Roosevelt. Only Bill Clinton, with 165 judicial appointments, had more.
The average number of federal judges appointed by a president through September 1 of their third year in office is 82.
The median number of Supreme Court justices appointed is two. William Taft’s (R) five appointments were the most among this set. Presidents Franklin Roosevelt (D), Jimmy Carter (D), and George W. Bush (R) did not appoint any justices through September 1 of their third years in office. Trump has appointed 2 justices so far.
The median number of United States Court of Appeals appointees is 18. Trump appointed the most with 43, and Presidents Theodore Roosevelt (R) and Woodrow Wilson (D) appointed the fewest with five each. Trump’s 43 appointments make up 24 percent of the total 179 judgeships across the courts of appeal.
The median number of United States District Court appointees is 56. Clinton appointed the most with 135, and T. Roosevelt appointed the fewest with 10. Trump has appointed 99 district court judges. Those appointments make up 15 percent of the 677 judgeships across the district courts.
Article III federal judges are appointed for life terms by the president of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate per Article III of the United States Constitution. Article III judges include judges on the: Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. courts of appeal, U.S. district courts, and the Court of International Trade.

Andrew Yang leads in pageviews for third consecutive week

Each week, we report the number of pageviews received by 2020 presidential campaigns on Ballotpedia. These numbers show which candidates are getting our readers’ attention.
Andrew Yang’s campaign page on Ballotpedia received 5,219 pageviews for the week of August 25-31. Yang’s pageview figure represents 9.6% of the pageviews for all Democratic candidates during the week. Joe Biden had 8.1% of the pageviews for the week, followed by Elizabeth Warren with 7.7%. This is Yang’s third consecutive week with the most pageviews among Democrats.
Amy Klobuchar and Tulsi Gabbard had more Ballotpedia pageviews last week than the week before. Klobuchar’s pageviews increased by 5.1%, while Gabbard’s increased by 1.2%. The largest decrease in pageviews was 45.8% for Kirsten Gillibrand, who ended her campaign August 28.
The leader in overall pageviews this year is Pete Buttigieg with 109,047. Buttigieg is followed by Yang with 105,936 and Kamala Harris with 98,083.
On the GOP side, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld had 11,641 pageviews to former Rep. Joe Walsh’s 5,638 and President Trump’s 1,868.

Union files suit challenging provisions of Wisconsin Act 10

On Aug. 26, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139 and two of its members, Karen Erickson and Heath Hanrahan, filed a suit in U.S. District Court challenging Wisconsin Act 10, legislation enacted in 2011 that made multiple changes to the state’s public-sector labor relations laws.
Who are the parties to the suit? Plaintiffs Erickson and Hanrahan are municipal employees of Marinette County, Wisconsin. Their union, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139, represents approximately 9,500 workers in Wisconsin. The defendant is James Daley, chairman of the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission.
What’s at issue? Act 10 prohibits municipal employers from negotiating with a union over “any factor or condition of employment except wages.” The law prohibits employers from deducting union dues from municipal employees’ paychecks. Act 10 also establishes annual recertification elections for municipal employee unions. In these elections, a union must receive at least 51 percent of the votes of all employees in the bargaining unit in order to be certified as the exclusive representative of those employees.
The plaintiffs allege these provisions of Act 10 violate the free-speech and associational rights guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The plaintiffs also argue that previous court decisions upholding these provisions of Act 10 should be reconsidered in light of the Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision. This contrasts with the ways in which Janus has been invoked in other suits to challenge union-backed laws and practices (e.g., dues-deduction authorization windows, paid time off for union activities, etc.).
What comes next? The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. A judge has not yet been assigned to the case. The case name and number are International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139 v. Daley, 2:19-cv-01233-DEJ.

Bishop, McCready meet for only debate of NC-09 special election

On Wednesday, Dan Bishop (R) and Dan McCready (D) met in their first and only debate of North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District special election, which takes place Sept. 10. The candidates began the debate by addressing criticisms from their opponent and opposition ads from satellite groups before moving on to discuss healthcare, immigration, and other policy areas.
Some highlights from the event:
Addressing criticisms: Ads from satellite groups have criticized McCready’s business practices as a solar energy investor; satellite groups and McCready’s campaign have released opposition ads focusing on Bishop’s vote in the state Senate against a bill allowing doctors to discuss lower-cost prescription drugs with patients. Both candidates defended their records at the debate. Bishop stated that he voted to approve a similar bill but did not have time to read the version of the bill in question. McCready said his business practices were ethical.
On healthcare: Bishop discussed his support of association health plans and repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), calling for market-based innovations to lower healthcare costs. McCready emphasized his prescription drug plan and his support of Medicaid expansion in the state under the ACA.
On immigration: Bishop criticized some North Carolina sheriffs for not following detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and said he supports the border wall Trump has called for. McCready called for comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform and said he supports securing borders while opposing a wall.
President Donald Trump (R), Vice President Mike Pence (R), and former Vice President Joe Biden (D) have weighed in on the special election. Trump endorsed Bishop in May. Bishop spoke at a Trump rally and Pence appeared at a fundraiser for Bishop in July. Trump is planning to campaign for Bishop in North Carolina again on September 9. Joe Biden endorsed McCready on Wednesday.
The special election has seen $8 million in ad spending from satellite groups, including $2.6 million from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and $1.2 million from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).
Bishop, McCready, Jeff Scott (L), and Allen Smith (G) are running in this special election after the state board of elections did not certify the results from the 2018 race following an investigation into allegations of absentee ballot fraud.

FEC loses quorum to enforce campaign finance laws

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) will lack the necessary quorum to enforce campaign finance violations effective August 31 following the resignation of Vice Chairman Matthew Petersen (R).
The FEC is an independent federal agency responsible for disclosing campaign finance information, enforcing limits and prohibitions on contributions, and overseeing public funding of presidential elections.
Petersen’s resignation leaves the six-member commission with only three members: Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub (D), Steven Walther (I), and Caroline Hunter (R). No more than three commissioners can represent the same political party. Without a quorum, the FEC will be unable to perform audits, litigate cases, promulgate new rules, issue advisory opinions, or enforce campaign finance violations.
Weintraub issued a statement on Monday announcing that the agency “is still on the 2020 campaign beat, despite the Vice Chairman’s resignation.” Weintraub stated that FEC staff will continue to make campaign finance documents available to the public and issue recommendations regarding campaign finance complaints. The commission will be unable to vote on the recommendations until a quorum is established. Weintraub urged President Donald Trump (R) to nominate new commissioners and encouraged the U.S. Senate to confirm the nominees.
Trump nominated Republican attorney James E. Trainor III to serve on the commission in 2017. The U.S. Senate had yet to confirm Trainor’s nomination as of August 2019.

Johnny Isakson announces 2019 retirement

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) announced his resignation effective December 31, 2019. He cited his health as a reason for the resignation. He is the first senator to announce an early retirement from the 116th Congress and the fifth senator not to run for re-election in 2020. Three other Republicans and one Democratic senator are also not seeking re-election.
Isakson was first elected to the Senate in 2004 to replace retiring incumbent Zell Miller (D). He won re-election campaigns in 2010 and 2016. His seat would have been up for election in 2022.
Under Georgia law, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) will appoint a replacement for Isakson until the next general election (November 2020). A special election will be held at that time to fill the remainder of Isakson’s term. Georgia will have two U.S. Senate elections next November because Sen. David Perdue’s (R) seat is also up for its regularly-scheduled election.
Republicans currently hold a 53-member majority in the U.S. Senate. In 2020, Republicans are defending 23 seats while Democrats are defending only 12. Each party is defending two seats that the opposing party’s presidential candidate won in 2016.
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Kirsten Gillibrand ends presidential campaign

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) announced she was ending her campaign for the presidency in an interview with The New York Times Wednesday.
In a tweet announcing her withdrawal, Gillibrand said, “I am so proud of this team and all we’ve accomplished. But I think it’s important to know how you can best serve. To our supporters: Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Now, let’s go beat Donald Trump and win back the Senate.”
Gillibrand is the seventh noteworthy Democratic candidate to suspend her bid for the presidency this year and the fifth to do so this month. Other August withdrawals include former U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska), former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), and U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.)
Gillibrand’s withdrawal leaves 20 noteworthy Democrats in the running. As of Monday, there were 277 Democratic presidential candidates registered with the Federal Election Commission.

Trump administration asks U.S. Supreme Court for emergency action on asylum rule

On August 26, U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the Trump administration to enforce a new asylum rule while a challenge to the rule is working its way through the court system.
What happened?
The solicitor general asked the U.S. Supreme Court to grant a stay of injunction. If the Supreme Court complies, the Trump administration could deny asylum to people who travel through another country and fail to file for asylum there before applying in the United States. On August 16, the Ninth Circuit had upheld a district court’s injunction, which blocked the rule from going into effect until after courts resolve the cases brought against it. You can read about the Ninth Circuit’s ruling here
In the government’s request for a stay, Francisco argued that the rule involved foreign affairs and was not subject to the notice and comment procedures required by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). He argued that if the Supreme Court does not remove the injunction it should at least limit its application to specific people who were injured under the new rule. When the Ninth Circuit upheld the initial injunction, it limited the scope to those states within its jurisdiction.
What comes next?
According to Amy Howe, writing for SCOTUSblog, Justice Elena Kagan handles emergency requests related to cases before the Ninth Circuit. She will decide whether to rule on the government’s request herself or to refer the decision to the full Supreme Court.