As of June 1, 2,910 major party candidates have filed to run for the Senate and House of Representatives in 2020.
So far, 441 candidates are filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to run for U.S. Senate. Of those, 355—180 Democrats and 175 Republicans—are from one of the two major political parties. In 2018, 527 candidates filed with the FEC to run for U.S. Senate, including 137 Democrats and 240 Republicans.
For U.S. House, 2,882 candidates have filed with the FEC to run. Of those, 2,555—1,206 Democrats and 1,349 Republicans—are from one of the two major political parties. In 2018, 3,244 candidates filed with the FEC, including 1,566 Democrats and 1,155 Republicans.
Thirty-six members of the U.S. House are not seeking re-election in 2020. That includes 27 Republicans and nine Democrats. Four senators (three Republicans and one Democrat) are not running for re-election. In 2018, 55 total members of Congress—18 Democrats and 37 Republicans—did not seek re-election.
On November 3, 2020, 35 Senate seats and all 435 House seats are up for election. Of those Senate seats, 33 are regularly scheduled elections, while the other two are special elections in Arizona and Georgia. Twelve are Democratic-held seats and 23 are Republican-held seats. In the House, Democrats currently hold a majority with 233 seats.
- United States Senate elections, 2020
- United States House of Representatives elections, 2020
- List of U.S. Congress incumbents who are not running for re-election in 2020
A group of 23 states, 4 cities, and the District of Columbia are challenging in court Trump administration efforts to change federal fuel efficiency requirements established by the Obama administration. On May 27, the group filed a lawsuit in the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit asking the court to review new fuel efficiency standards set by federal agencies in April.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) set the new standards in a final rule published in the Federal Register on April 30. The rule gives the auto industry more time to decrease how much gasoline their vehicles use and how much carbon dioxide they emit.
In a press release announcing the lawsuit, California Attorney General Xavier Beccera argued that the Trump administration rule violates the Clean Air Act and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and that new standards are too loose. He wrote, “The rule takes aim at the corporate average fuel efficiency standards, requiring automakers to make only minimal improvements to fuel economy—on the order of 1.5 percent annually instead of the previously anticipated annual improvement of approximately 5 percent. The rule also guts the requirements to reduce vehicles’ greenhouse gas emissions, allowing hundreds of millions of metric tons of avoidable carbon emissions into our atmosphere over the next decade.”
In a press release announcing the new fuel efficiency standards rule, the NHTSA wrote that the rule “reflects the realities of today’s markets, including substantially lower oil prices than in the original 2012 projection, significant increases in U.S. oil production, and growing consumer demand for larger vehicles.” The release quotes EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler saying, “Our final rule puts in place a sensible one national program that strikes the right regulatory balance that protects our environment, and sets reasonable targets for the auto industry. This rule supports our economy, and the safety of American families.”
The rule is scheduled to go into effect on June 29, 2020.
- Final rule
- Environmental Protection Agency
- United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
- Administrative State Project
Link to Beccera’s press release:
Link to NHTSA press release:
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.
From May 25 to May 29, the Federal Register grew by 1,620 pages for a year-to-date total of 32,976 pages. Over the same period in 2019 and 2018, the Federal Register reached 25,492 pages and 25,544 pages, respectively. As of May 29, the 2020 total led the 2019 total by 7,484 pages and the 2018 total by 7,432 pages.
The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.
This week’s Federal Register featured the following 459 documents:
• 383 notices
• six presidential documents
• 28 proposed rules
• 42 final rules
Two proposed rules concerning the federal recruitment and appointment of military spouses and emergency preparedness for certain nuclear reactors were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that they could have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Trump administration in 2020 has issued 20 significant proposed rules and 28 significant final rules as of May 29.
Not all rules issued by the Trump administration are regulatory actions. Some rules are deregulatory actions pursuant to President Trump’s (R) Executive Order 13771, which requires federal agencies to eliminate two old significant regulations for each new significant regulation issued.
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.
Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2018 and 2017: https://ballotpedia.org/Changes_to_the_Federal_Register
Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2018: https://ballotpedia.org/Historical_additions_to_the_Federal_Register,_1936-2018
New regulations from the U.S Department of Labor (DOL) might allow the public to hold the agency more accountable for decisions it makes during adjudication.
On May 20, Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia published a final rule that establishes a system allowing him to review cases decided by the agency Administrative Review Board (ARB) and Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA).
The rule empowers the secretary of labor to oversee appeals from decisions made by agency Administrative Law Judges (ALJs). ALJs are officials who preside over federal administrative hearings. By giving the secretary more responsibility for the outcome of appeals from agency hearings, the rule gives the public an official to hold accountable for agency decisions.
According to the text of the rule published in the Federal Register, previous rules created the ARB and BALCA to make intra-agency appeals decisions in the name of the secretary of labor without giving the secretary a way to review the power exercised on his or her behalf.
In an op-ed announcing the rule, Scalia argued, “Our new system allows the ARB to continue its important work deciding administrative appeals, but gives the Secretary the authority to step in when a case is wrongly decided. The new regulations also contain due process protections so the Department fairly exercises its dual roles as litigant and judge.”
Seth Harris, who worked for the DOL when the ARB was created, opposes the plan, arguing that giving the secretary review authority over appeals might bias agency decision making. “The idea that this is an impartial, quasi-judicial panel is blown to smithereens because the secretary, if he gets lobbied by one party or the other, can simply overturn what the board has decided,” Harris told Bloomberg Law.
Supporters of giving the secretary more control of appeals include David Fortney, who worked for the DOL under George H.W. Bush. Fortney told Bloomberg Law that “I think that, on its face, it sounds modest—it’s not. It is terribly important because every major program that the Labor Department administers and enforces largely goes through the ARB, and this will ensure that there aren’t rogue decisions.”
Adjudication is the way agencies resolve disputes between the agency and people or between two private parties. Through adjudication, agencies will issue an order to settle the dispute and, in some cases, set agency policy for similar cases in the future. This new rule gives the secretary of labor more power in the adjudication process.
The rule is scheduled to go into effect on June 19, 2020.
- Administrative law judge
- Final rule
- Eugene Scalia
- U.S. Department of Labor
- Administrative State Project
Link to Bloomberg Law article:
On May 29, 2020, the United States Supreme Court rejected a challenge to California’s religious gathering limits, which order attendance in churches or places of worship to a maximum of 25% or 100 attendees.
The 5-4 decision was joined by Chief Justice Roberts who warned against intervening in emergencies: “Where those broad limits are not exceeded, they should not be subject to second-guessing by an ‘unelected federal judiciary,’ which lacks the background, competence, and expertise to assess public health and is not accountable to the people.”
Justice Kavanaugh joined the remaining three Republican-appointed justices in dissenting from the ruling, arguing that the California limits “indisputably discriminates against religion.”
President Donald Trump (R) on May 19 issued an executive order aimed at providing regulatory relief to spur economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to targeted regulatory actions, the order also contains provisions that seek to promote economic recovery by safeguarding procedural rights and ensuring fairness in agency adjudication and enforcement.
The order puts forth what it deems a set of “principles of fairness in administrative enforcement and adjudication” and directs agencies to comply with the principles where appropriate as part of their pandemic response efforts. The principles include broad standards of promptness, fairness, and transparency in adjudication and enforcement proceedings as well as more specific procedural due process protections, such as requiring that adjudication be free from government coercion and that agency adjudicators be independent of enforcement staff. These principles build on Trump’s October 2019 Executive Order 13892, which aimed to curb what the order referred to as administrative abuses by requiring agencies to provide the public with fair notice of regulations.
“[President Trump] knows that what will jump-start the economy is not Big Government, but the American people,” said White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator Paul Ray in _The Washington Times_. “That’s why this president is fighting the economic emergency by returning even more liberty to the people.”
Some critics of the order expressed concern that agencies would respond by suspending regulatory enforcement altogether. “That’s the part that gives me the greatest concern, the idea of nonenforcement and telling agencies without any real basis or explanation that more lax enforcement will help us economically,” said Project on Government Oversight senior policy analyst Sean Moulton in _The Hill_.
Agency adjudication aims to resolve a dispute either between a federal agency and a private party or between two private parties. While some administrative law scholars claim that agency adjudication satisfies constitutional due process, others argue that certain adjudication procedures violate due process protections, such as the appearance of partiality in favor of agencies that results from the use of non-independent adjudicators.
On May 19, President Trump issued an executive order directing federal agencies to remove regulatory barriers to economic activity as part of a coronavirus pandemic recovery effort.
The order specifically directs agency leaders to determine whether regulations modified or waived during the pandemic should be repealed permanently. It also encourages agencies to use emergency powers to support economic recovery and to find and remove additional regulatory hurdles to job creation. According to news reports, more than 600 regulations could be affected.
Russ Vought, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget, stated, “If a bureaucratic rule needs to be suspended during a time of crisis to help the American people, we should ask ourselves if it makes sense to keep at all.”
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who supports the order, tweeted that “every regulation that was waived during this crisis should remain waived.” Kent Lassman, president of the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, approved of the order and said, “CEI has identified dozens of regulations that were never needed and now hinder response to, and recovery from, this pandemic. Widespread repeal is necessary and on the way.”
U.S. Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), who opposes the order, tweeted that in her view the order puts workers and the environment at risk: “Step one: Remove the Inspectors General who keep an eye on wrongdoing at our federal agencies. Step two: Tell the agencies that it’s open season on measures that keep workers, consumers, and the environment safe.”
An executive order is a formal command handed down from the president to federal agencies within the executive branch. While executive orders are legally binding, they are not laws; they are instructions on how the executive branch ought to enforce the law. These instructions must line up with existing U.S. laws and the U.S. Constitution.
Executive orders are a way that presidents exercise executive control of agencies—one of five pillars key to understanding the main areas of debate about the nature and scope of the administrative state.
- Presidential memorandum
- Presidential proclamation
- Appointment and removal power
- Office of Management and Budget
- Administrative State Project
Text of the executive order:
Link to Public Citizen statement: