U.S. Senators Lee and Hawley propose increasing presidential control of agency officials

U.S. Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) introduced a bill that would give presidents more control over the administrative state. The Take Care Act, introduced on June 5, 2019, would repeal limitations on the president’s authority to remove Senate-confirmed officials in the executive branch and at independent agencies. The bill aims to make agencies more accountable by allowing new presidents to control agency leadership.
After the U.S. Supreme Court decided Humphrey’s Executor in 1935, several laws kept the president from being able to remove agency officials at-will. Under the Take Care Act, Congress would have to pass new laws to restrict presidential removal power in the future. If passed, the Take Care Act would go into effect on January 20, 2021, after the next presidential election.

Federal Register weekly update; lowest weekly proposed rule total since April

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.
During the week of June 10 to June 14, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 1,168 pages, bringing the year-to-date total to 27,906 pages. This week’s Federal Register featured a total of 533 documents, including 447 notices, seven presidential documents, 36 proposed rules, and 43 final rules.
One proposed rule was deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that it may have a large impact on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules.
During the same week in 2018, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 1,318 pages for a year-to-date total of 28,150 pages. As of June 14, the 2019 total trailed the 2018 total by 244 pages.
The Trump administration has added an average of 1,163 pages to the Federal Register each week in 2019 as of June 14. Over the course of 2018, the Trump administration added an average of 1,301 pages to the Federal Register each week. During the Obama administration, the Federal Register increased by an average of 1,658 pages per week.
According to government data, the Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.
Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.
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Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2016:,_1936-2016

A closer look at Trump’s twice-nominated judge: Peter Phipps

President Donald Trump (R) has announced 190 Article III judicial nominations since taking office on January 20, 2017. Two of those individuals, Peter Phipps and A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr., were nominated twice to different courts.
On February 15, 2018, Trump first nominated Phipps to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. The U.S. Senate confirmed Phipps to the District Court on October 11, 2018, by voice vote. On May 13, 2019, the president then nominated Phipps to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit.
Phipps was nominated to the Western District of Pennsylvania on recommendation from Pennsylvania Senators Pat Toomey (R) and Bob Casey Jr. (D). Toomey also supported Phipps’ 3rd Circuit nomination, saying, “Judge Phipps will make an outstanding addition to the Third Circuit. He has the experience, intellect and integrity to be a superb circuit court judge.” Casey, however, expressed opposition to the second nomination and questioned whether “six months on that bench is sufficient experience or preparation” for a Circuit Court elevation. Casey also said, “Circuit court judges are often asked to decide questions of law that can have an enormous impact on Americans’ lives, and I have significant concerns about Judge Phipps’ judicial and constitutional philosophy.”
The United States Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit is one of 13 U.S. courts of appeal. They are the intermediate appellate courts of the United States federal court system. The court has 14 authorized judgeships and one current vacancy. Republican presidents appointed seven of the current judges. Democratic presidents appointed the remaining six judges. The 3rd Circuit has appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Phipps was born in Abilene, Texas, in 1973. He received a B.S. in physics and a B.A. in history from the University of Dayton in 1995. He obtained a J.D. from Stanford Law School in 1998. During his legal studies, Phipps served as a managing editor of the Stanford Law Review from 1997 to 1998. He worked in private practice from 1998 to 2001 and then became a law clerk to Judge Guy Cole of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals from 2001 to 2002. From 2003 to 2018, Phipps was an attorney with the Federal Programs Branch of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Division.
The president has also nominated A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. twice. Quattlebaum Jr. was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina in 2017 and confirmed in March 2018. In May 2018, the president nominated Quattlebaum to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. The U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination on August 16, 2018.

Sixteen Democratic presidential candidates have called for Donald Trump impeachment proceedings

Sixteen of the 24 noteworthy Democratic candidates for president have called for President Donald Trump’s (R) impeachment.
The most recent candidates to join in impeachment calls did so last Friday. Both Bill de Blasio and Amy Klobuchar called for impeachment following statements made by Trump last week on ABC News. In an interview, Trump said he would consider accepting information on 2020 rivals from foreign nations.
As a member of the U.S. Senate, Klobuchar would be responsible for voting on whether to convict and remove the president during impeachment proceedings. She is the sixth member of the U.S. Senate running for president to call for Trump’s impeachment. Only one—Michael Bennet—has not.
Four candidates are members of the U.S. House, which would be responsible for voting on articles of impeachment. Three of those candidates—Seth Moulton, Tim Ryan, and Eric Swalwell—have called for Trump’s impeachment.
The full list of presidential candidates to call for impeachment proceedings against Trump is: Cory Booker, Pet Buttigieg, Julian Castro, Blasio, Kirsten Gillibrand, Mike Gravel, Kamala Harris, John Hickenlooper, Klobuchar, Wayne Messam, Moulton, Beto O’Rourke, Ryan, Bernie Sanders, Swalwell, and Elizabeth Warren.

Presidential pageviews update: Buttigieg receives most Ballotpedia pageviews, followed by Biden and Yang

Each week, we report the number of pageviews received by 2020 presidential candidates on Ballotpedia. These numbers show which candidates are getting our readers’ attention.
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg racked up 3,771 pageviews for the week of June 9-15. That represents 8.1 percent of the pageviews for all Democratic campaigns during the week. Former Vice President Joe Biden had 7.2 percent of the campaign pageviews for the week, while entrepreneur Andrew Yang had 7.1 percent.
Former Sen. Mike Gravel (Alaska) had the largest increase of all the campaigns last week, increasing 3.8% over his previous total.
The top three campaigns in lifetime pageviews are Buttigieg with 68,395, Yang with 55,707, and Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.) with 49,969.
On the GOP side, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld had 8,102 pageviews to President Trump’s 1,393.

2020 Democratic presidential field split on impeachment

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) became the fourteenth Democratic presidential candidate to support initiating impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump (R) Thursday.
The first calls for impeachment proceedings came in April after the U.S. Department of Justice released special counsel Robert Mueller’s report investigating allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, coordination between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia, and obstruction of justice.
Mueller stated in the report that “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” He also wrote that the report neither concluded Trump had committed a crime nor exonerated him.
As a member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Swalwell would be the only presidential candidate involved in the committee investigation of Trump if impeachment proceedings were initiated.
Some candidates, like Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Gov. Steve Bullock (D-Mont.), have said Congress should use its oversight power and continue current investigations before launching any impeachment process.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and entrepreneur Andrew Yang (D) have said Trump should be defeated at the ballot box.
Altogether, 10 candidates have not called for impeachment proceedings to begin.

House committee holds Trump officials in contempt for refusal to release citizenship question documents

The House Oversight and Reform Committee voted 24-15 on June 12, 2019, to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoenas requesting documents related to the decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.
The vote occurred hours after President Trump blocked the committee’s access to the documents by asserting executive privilege at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice.
A Justice Department spokeswoman responded to the vote, stating that the department had already disclosed 17,000 documents.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross approved the addition of a citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. Census in March, prompting a series of legal challenges. The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a consolidated case challenging the question, Department of Commerce v. New York, on April 23, 2019. A decision is expected by the end of the month.
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A new way to look at the presidential field


Long before candidates such as Donald Trump (R) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) won their elections, they had bested their opponents in pageviews on Ballotpedia.
What trends might emerge from this year’s political contests? As part of our 2020 election coverage, we will be publishing our weekly pageview statistics for presidential campaigns. These numbers help indicate which candidates are getting our readers’ attention.
Overall, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s Ballotpedia campaign article has received 65,000 pageviews since it launched — the most of any Democratic candidate. Andrew Yang is second with 52,000 and Kamala Harris third with 47,000. Buttigieg and Harris’ pages were published February 21, while Yang’s was published February 25.
We’ll be updating this page throughout the campaign with new data and features, including an analysis of pageviews following the Democratic presidential debates. We hope you enjoy exploring and finding trends in the data.
Now, here’s a look at the numbers from last week:
  • Former vice president Joe Biden had 4,916 Ballotpedia pageviews for the week of June 2 through June 8. Biden’s pageview figure represents 9.6 percent of the pageviews for all Democratic candidates during the week.
  • South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg had 7.2 percent of the candidate pageviews for the week, while Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) had 6.7 percent.
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pageviews had the largest increase of all the candidates last week, increasing 97.8 percent over his previous total. No other candidate’s pageviews on Ballotpedia increased more than 30 percent last week.
  • On the GOP side, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld had 7,466 Ballotpedia pageviews to President Trump’s 1,413.
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DNC guidance on polling criteria for first presidential debate puts Bullock on the bubble

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) provided additional guidance Thursday on its polling criteria for this month’s presidential debate, knocking Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) out of qualifying.
The DNC will not count two ABC News/Washington Post polls that used open-ended questioning. Without those polls, Bullock now has only two of three necessary polls to qualify for the debate.
The national party also clarified which sample it will use from a Reuters poll released in May, which confirms New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) has met the polling threshold to qualify.
Given this new guidance, the number of qualified candidates has dropped from 21 to 20. Bullock, former Sen. Mike Gravel (D), Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam (D), and Rep. Seth Moulton (D) have until June 12 to reach 1 percent in three eligible polls or meet the 65,000-donor threshold to qualify.
The Democratic National Committee will announce which candidates have qualified on June 13. These candidates will then be divided into two groups based on polling performance and distributed by random drawing across the two debate nights June 14.
NBC News, MSNBC, and Telemundo are broadcasting the debate from Miami, Florida, on June 26 and 27.

GOP Senate Judiciary Committee members oppose Trump judicial nominee

Sens. Josh Hawley (Mo.) and Ted Cruz (Texas), both Republicans and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, opposed the nomination of Michael Bogren to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. President Donald Trump nominated Bogren to the court on March 11, 2019, and the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the nomination on May 22.
During the committee hearing, Hawley asked Bogren about litigation representing the city of East Lansing, Michigan. Steve and Bridget Tennes, the owners of Country Mill Farms, sued East Lansing after the city barred them from participating in the city-run farmers market. The city barred the farm after Steve Tennes wrote on Facebook that he believed “marriage is a sacramental union between one man and one woman” and “he honors his religious belief when hosting and participating in weddings at Country Mill.” Bogren represented East Lansing in the litigation.
Hawley said Bogren “compared a Catholic family’s adherence to the teachings of their church to the activities of the KKK and the teachings of radical imams.” Bogren responded, “Respectfully, that is not what I said. […] The point I was trying to make was that religious beliefs trying to justify discrimination if extended to sexual orientation, which the city of East Lansing protects, could be used to try to justify any other sort of discrimination, whether it be gender or race.”
Hawley also published an op-ed for National Review where he wrote that Bogren’s “hostility toward [the Catholic family’s] faith raises questions about his fitness to be a federal judge. … It’s one thing to advocate on behalf of your client, but Bogren went too far.”
Sen. Cruz agreed with Hawley in a tweet: “The nominee didn’t just represent a client; at his confirmation, he affirmatively declared ‘there is no distinction’ [between] Catholic teachings and KKK bigotry. I’m a NO. And POTUS should withdraw the nomination.”
Writing in support of Bogren, Margot Cleveland, a contributor for The Federalist and Bogren’s cousin, said Bogren “is not anti-Catholic. … Conservatives using Bogren’s clients and zealous representation of their legal interests to scuttle a nomination aren’t thinking this through.”
The Wall Street Journal editorial board also argued in favor of Bogren. “Mr. Hawley’s questioning is a precedent that conservatives will regret,” the Journal editorial board wrote. “If nominees can be disqualified for every argument they make for a client, conservative judicial nominees will soon find themselves blocked from judgeships for defending religious liberty.”
Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, both Democrats from Michigan, negotiated with the White House regarding the nomination. Stabenow said after the nomination was announced, “Today’s announcement is welcome news following months of bipartisan discussions with the White House. I look forward to the Senate Judiciary Committee considering these nominees.”
The United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan is one of 94 U.S. district courts. They are the general trial courts of the United States federal courts.