CategoryFederal

Trump’s pick for EPA administrator to appear before Senate committee

Andrew Wheeler, President Donald Trump’s nominee for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, will appear before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on January 16, 2019. After the committee votes on Wheeler’s nomination, the full Senate will have to vote to confirm him. He needs a simple majority for confirmation.
 
Wheeler currently serves as the acting administrator of the EPA. Trump announced his intent to nominate Wheeler as EPA administrator on November 16, 2018. During a White House ceremony, Trump said, “He’s done a fantastic job and I want to congratulate him.” Trump formally nominated Wheeler on January 9, 2019.
 
If confirmed, Wheeler will replace former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who resigned on July 6, 2018. The Senate confirmed Pruitt by a vote of 52-46 on February 17, 2017. Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) were the only Democrats to vote for Pruitt’s confirmation. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) was the only Republican to vote against his confirmation.


Flashback to three years ago today – presidential primary debates

On this night three years ago, the Republican Party held its sixth debate of the presidential primary cycle. Taking place in North Charleston, South Carolina, seven candidates participated in the primetime debate, while three candidates were involved in the undercard.
 
The primetime debate was hosted by the Fox Business Network and moderated by Neil Cavuto and Maria Bartiromo. The following candidates participated in the primetime debate:
*Donald Trump
*Ted Cruz
*Ben Carson
*Marco Rubio
*Chris Christie
*Jeb Bush
*John Kasich
 
The undercard featured Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum. Rand Paul, who was still an active presidential candidate, chose not to participate in the undercard after he was not invited to the primetime debate.
 
The Republican Party held 12 debates during the presidential primary of 2016, while the Democratic Party held nine debates.
 
On December 20, 2018, the Democratic National Committee announced plans to host a minimum of 12 debates for the party’s presidential primary candidates. The schedule sets the first debate in June 2019 and the final debate in April 2020, with six debates occurring in each year. The Iowa caucuses kicking off the 2020 presidential primary are set for February 3, 2020.
 
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Federal Register weekly update; government shutdown results in low page count

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 January 7 to January 11, the Federal Register grew by 72 pages, bringing the year-to-date total to 106 pages. A total of 31 documents were included in the week’s Federal Register, including 26 notices, four presidential documents, and one rule.
 
No proposed or final rules were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that they may 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.
 
Due to the government shutdown, the Federal Register features fewer pages compared to recent years. During the same week in 2018, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 1,324 pages. As of January 11, the 2019 total trailed the 2018 total by 1,922 pages.
 
The Trump administration has added an average of 53 pages to the Federal Register each week in 2019 as of January 11. In 2018, the Trump administration added an average of 1,301 pages to the Federal Register each week. Over the course of 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.
 
Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2018 and 2017.
 
Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 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.


Donald Trump nominates acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to permanent position

On January 9, President Donald Trump nominated acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler to lead the agency. Wheeler took over as EPA administrator on an interim basis when Scott Pruitt resigned on July 5, 2018. The Environment and Public Works Committee of the U.S. Senate will hold a hearing on Wheeler’s nomination on January 16, 2019. The committee must approve Wheeler before the full Senate may vote on his nomination.
 
Wheeler served as deputy administrator of the EPA from April 12 to July 9, 2018. Prior to serving as deputy administrator, Wheeler had worked as a lobbyist and lawyer. His lobbying clients included the coal company Murray Energy. Before lobbying, Wheeler worked as a staffer in the U.S. Senate, including stints as general counsel for U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and staff director for the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Wheeler also worked in the EPA’s Pollution Prevention and Toxics office during the George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations from 1991 to 1995. 


Democrats now hold 31 districts that Trump won in 2016

The new U.S. Congress is facing divided government, a shutdown, and new leadership priorities under a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. As we move farther from the 2018 elections and closer to 2020, representatives from districts won by the opposite party’s presidential candidate in 2016 will be some of the most fascinating to watch.
 
Republicans ceded ground in Clinton districts—they hold three that she won in 2016, down from 25 before the 2018 elections. The three remaining Republican-held districts are:
 
– New York’s 24th, represented by John Katko
– Pennsylvania’s 1st, represented by Brian Fitzpatrick
– Texas’ 23rd, represented by Will Hurd
 
Democrats also made gains in Trump districts and now hold 31 congressional districts that he won in 2016. They held 13 of those districts before the 2018 elections. The current Democratic districts that Trump won in 2016 are located in the following states:
 
– Arizona
– Georgia
– Illinois
– Iowa
– Maine
– Michigan
– Minnesota
– Nevada
– New Hampshire
– New Jersey
– New Mexico
– New York
– Oklahoma
– Pennsylvania
– South Carolina
– Utah
– Virginia
– Wisconsin
 
Click here to start preparing for 2020 elections in the U.S. House.


Trump makes case for border barrier in televised address; Democratic leadership rejects request

In the televised address from the Oval Office on January 8, 2019, President Donald Trump said that there is a humanitarian and security crisis at the southern border, and he called on members of Congress to allocate $5.7 billion to build a wall or steel barrier to protect the nation. He said, “At the request of Democrats, it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall. This barrier is absolutely critical to border security. It’s also what our professionals at the border want and need.”
 
In making his case for the barrier, Trump said that individuals who enter the country without legal permission from the southern border strain public resources and reduce job availability and wages. He also said that some drugs and criminals enter the country through the southern border, harming Americans.
 
In response to those, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who “have suggested a barrier is immoral,” Trump said, “Then why do wealthy politicians build walls, fences, and gates around their homes? They don’t build walls because they hate the people on the outside, but because they love the people on the inside. The only thing that is immoral is the politicians to do nothing and continue to allow more innocent people to be so horribly victimized.”
 
The address took place on the 18th day of a partial government shutdown. Trump said that he would not sign legislation to reopen the federal government if it did not include border funding.
 
Immediately after Trump’s speech, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), issued a televised response rejecting Trump’s request for a border wall and calling on him to reopen the government. Pelosi said, “President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis, and must reopen the government.”
 
Schumer said that Democrats support border security measures, but “disagree with the president about the most effective way to do it.” Schumer also criticized Trump for creating a crisis that he said did not exist. Schumer said, “This president just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear, and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration.”
 
In his address, Trump did not declare a national emergency over border security, something he is considering if Congress refuses to fund the requested border barrier. “Federal law allows the president to halt military construction projects and divert those funds for the emergency,” according to The Wall Street Journal. Democrats said that they would challenge Trump’s declaration in court if issued.


SCOTUS issues two unanimous opinions

The U.S. Supreme Court issued two unanimous opinions this week – Henry Schein Inc. v. Archer and White Sales Inc., and Culbertson v. Berryhill. Last term, the justices issued 20 unanimous opinions.
 
In Henry Schein Inc. v. Archer and White Sales Inc., the court considered a case regarding the Federal Arbitration Act. In his first opinion for the court, Justice Brett Kavanaugh vacated and remanded the ruling of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
 
In Culbertson v. Berryhill, the court considered a question concerning Social Security and attorney fees. The court unanimously reversed and remanded the ruling of the Eleventh Circuit Court.
 
The justices have granted cert in 65 cases and have issued decisions in seven of them. They have 26 cases remaining on their argument schedule.


Government shutdown delays comment period for Trump administration’s “Waters of the U.S.” proposal

The federal government shutdown has delayed a comment period for a proposed rule that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in December. The rule would replace the Clean Water Act’s definition of “waters of the United States” set by the Obama administration in 2015. The EPA aims to clarify the difference between federally-protected waterways and state-protected waterways, which it says will help landowners determine whether they need a federal permit to do projects on their property. The EPA has decided to wait until Congress funds the agency to begin a 60-day comment period during which the public may submit written feedback about the rule.
 
Proposed rules are preliminary versions of a prospective federal agency regulation. If an agency determines that a new regulation is necessary, the agency develops a proposed rule for publication in the Federal Register. After a period of public comment, the agency may determine to revise the proposed rule, abandon the proposal, or move forward to the final rule stage of the rulemaking process.


Senate Judiciary Committee committee schedules hearings for Barr

The Senate Judiciary Committee announced that it will hold a confirmation hearing for William Barr’s nomination to be United States Attorney General on January 15 and 16. President Donald Trump (R) announced his intent to nominate Barr to the position on December 7, 2018, and formally sent his nomination to the Senate on January 3, 2019. Barr will have to be confirmed by the Senate with a simple majority vote before taking office.
 
Barr served as the 77th United States Attorney General under former President George H.W. Bush (R) from 1991 to 1993. He was confirmed by a unanimous voice vote in November 1991. The previous attorney general under Trump, Jeff Sessions, was confirmed 52-47 in November 2017.


Trump’s nominee to FCC, a Democrat, confirmed by U.S. Senate

The U.S. Senate voted yesterday to confirm Democrat Geoffrey Starks as a commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Under federal law, only three FCC commissioners can be from the same political party, so President Trump nominated Starks based on recommendations from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). The FCC is an independent federal agency formed in 1934 that regulates interstate and international radio, television and other communications.
 
Independent federal agencies operate with some degree of autonomy from the executive branch. These agencies exist outside of the Executive Office of the President and executive departments or have top officials with protections against removal by the president or other officials. The FCC is run by five commissioners appointed by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to five-year terms.


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