Tagfederal government

U.S. Senate acquits former President Trump of incitement of insurrection

The U.S. Senate acquitted President Donald Trump (R) of incitement of insurrection on Feb. 13. All 50 Democrats and seven Republicans voted guilty. The other 43 Republicans voted not guilty. The seven Republicans to vote guilty were:

◦ Richard Burr (R-N.C.)

◦ Bill Cassidy (R-La.)

◦ Susan Collins (R-Maine)

◦ Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)

◦ Mitt Romney (R-Utah)

◦ Ben Sasse (R-Neb.)

◦ Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)

Trump is the only president to be impeached twice by the House. Trump was previously acquitted of abuse of power by a vote of 52-48 and obstruction of Congress by a vote of 53-47 on Feb. 5, 2020.



Federal Register weekly update: Biden administration publishes first significant final rule

Image of the south facade of the White House.

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 February 8 through February 12—the fourth week of the Biden administration—the Federal Register grew by 896 pages for a year-to-date total of 9,432 pages. During the same period of the Trump administration in 2017, the Federal Register grew by 690 pages for a year-to-date total of 11,130 pages.

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 472 documents:

• 374 notices

• six presidential document

• 34 proposed rules

• 58 final rules

One final rule concerning liquidity risk measurement standards was deemed significant under E.O. 12866—defined by the potential to 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 Biden administration has issued two significant proposed rules and one significant final rule as of February 12.

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 2019, 2018, and 2017: https://ballotpedia.org/Changes_to_the_Federal_Register 

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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



Biden signs 28 executive orders in first two weeks in office

President Joe Biden (D) signed 28 executive orders, 11 presidential memoranda, and five proclamations in his first two weeks in office.

That is more executive orders than his three predecessors combined—Presidents Donald Trump (R), Barack Obama (D), and George W. Bush (R)—signed over the same period of time.

Executive orders are directives written by the president to officials within the executive branch requiring them to take or stop some action related to policy or management. They are numbered, published in the Federal Register, and cite the authority by which the president is making the order.

Presidential memoranda also include instructions directed at executive officials, but they are neither numbered nor have the same publication requirements. The Office of Management and Budget is also not required to issue a budgetary impact statement on the subject of the memoranda.

In his 2014 book, By Order of the President: The Use and Abuse of Executive Direct Action, Phillip J. Cooper, a professor of public administration at Portland State University, wrote, “As a practical matter, the memorandum is now being used as the equivalent of an executive order, but without meeting the legal requirements for an executive order.”

Proclamations are a third type of executive directive that typically relate to private individuals or ceremonial events, such as holidays and commemorations.



U.S. Census Bureau says it will deliver apportionment data by April 30, redistricting data after July 31

On January 27, 2021, Kathleen Styles, an official at the U.S. Census Bureau, announced at a National Conference of State Legislatures event that the bureau would release its final apportionment report by April 30, 2021. Styles also said the bureau hoped to release detailed redistricting data after July 31, 2021.

Census results are used to determine congressional apportionment (i.e., how many seats in the U.S. House of Representatives a state has). Article I, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution requires that congressional representatives be apportioned to the states on the basis of population. Consequently, a state may gain seats in the U.S. House if its population grows or lose seats if its population decreases, relative to populations in other states. Census data also informs redistricting efforts at both the congressional and state legislative levels.

The bureau originally planned to deliver its final apportionment report by December 31, 2020, and redistricting data by March 31, 2020. The coronavirus pandemic complicated counting efforts, thereby delaying the delivery of this data. It is not yet clear precisely how these delays will affect state-specific redistricting procedures and deadlines.

In other redistricting and reapportionment news, on January 20, 2021, President Joe Biden (D) issued an executive order directing the Secretary of Commerce to include in the final apportionment report the “tabulation of total population by State that reflects the whole number of persons whose usual residence was in each State as of the designated census date in section 141(a) of title 13, United States Code, without regard to immigration status.” This effectively overturned former President Donald Trump’s (R) earlier directive to the contrary.

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Three-hundred and forty-four elected officials at the state and federal levels sought another office in 2020

In 2020, Ballotpedia tracked 344 officials in Congress and state legislatures who ran for a different office than the one to which they were elected. Of those 344 officials, 162 (47%) won election to a new position.

Fourteen members of the U.S. House and eight members of the U.S. Senate sought election to a different office. Four members of the House and all eight members of the Senate ran for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, losing to Joe Biden (D). Five members of the House won election to different offices, one lost in the general election, and three were defeated in their party’s primary. One withdrew before the primary.

The 14 House members who sought election to a different office included seven Democrats and seven Republicans.

Compared to 2018, fewer members of the U.S. House sought a different office in 2020. In 2018, Ballotpedia tracked 21 members of the House who sought election to statewide offices, including 10 Democrats and 11 Republicans. Forty-three percent won the general election.

At the state level, 322 state legislators from 44 states ran for other elected office, with 49% winning their elections. Fifty-four percent of state representatives and 32% of state senators were successful in their bids for other elected office. Of the 322 state legislators, 162 were Republicans and 158 were Democrats. Two ran as independents.

Of the 244 state representatives who ran for a different office, a majority (59%) sought a state senate seat. Seventy-eight state senators ran for a different office, with the most sought-after (35%) being a seat in the U.S. House.

Compared to 2018, 150 fewer state legislators ran for another office in 2020. In 2018, 472 ran for a new position, with 46% successfully doing so.

To learn more about the results of elected officials seeking other offices in 2020, click the link below:

https://ballotpedia.org/Results_of_elected_officials_seeking_other_offices,_2020

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Senate confirms Lloyd Austin for secretary of defense

On January 22, 2021, the Senate confirmed retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to serve as secretary of defense by a vote of 93-2. He will be the first Black secretary to lead the Department of Defense and the second member of President Joe Biden’s (D) Cabinet to be confirmed.

Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) were the only votes against Austin’s confirmation.

On January 21, the House and Senate approved the waiver to allow Austin to serve before a seven-year cooldown period for former active service members. The House approved the waiver by a vote of 326-78 and the Senate by a vote of 69-27.

This was the third time a general was granted this waiver following Gens. Jim Mattis and George Marshall.



U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases December 2020 unemployment data

On January 8, 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its unemployment data for December 2020. The unemployment rate for December was 6.7%, the same rate that was reported for November 2020. The year’s highest unemployment rate was recorded in April 2020 at 14.8%; the year’s lowest reported rate was 3.5% in both January and February 2020.

The average yearly unemployment rate for 2020 was 8.1%. This is the highest average yearly rate since 2012 when it also equaled 8.1%. The highest average yearly rate over the past decade (2010-2020) was 9.6% in 2010. The lowest average rate over the past decade was 3.7% in 2019.

The BLS began collecting monthly unemployment data in 1948. The bureau classifies people as unemployed if they do not have a job, have actively looked for a job in the past four weeks, and are available for work—or if they are waiting to be recalled to a job from which they were temporarily laid off. The BLS uses data from the monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) conducted by the United States Census Bureau. The survey collects data each month from 60,000 households—approximately 110,000 individuals—selected from a sample of 800 geographic areas designed by the Census Bureau to represent each state and the District of Columbia.

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U.S. Small Business Administration relaunches Paycheck Protection Program

On Friday, January 8, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) would make another round of loans available to new and some existing borrowers on January 11. Congress allocated $284 billion to the program in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which President Donald Trump (R) signed into law on December 27, 2020.

The PPP, which Congress first authorized in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020, was created to provide forgivable loans to small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the SBA, beginning January 11, the new loans will only be available to first-time borrowers working with community financial institutions, which include banks and credit unions that focus on low-income and underserved borrowers. On January 13, community financial institutions can distribute loans to qualified borrowers who received PPP money last year. The SBA said the program would open to all other qualified first or second-time borrowers shortly thereafter.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act included a $900 billion coronavirus relief package that authorized a second round of direct stimulus payments, $20 billion in funding for coronavirus testing, and $28 billion towards acquiring and distributing doses of the vaccine. It also extended some policies, such as a moratorium on evictions and federal unemployment assistance.

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Federal Register weekly update: Highest weekly page total of 2020

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 December 28 to December 31, the Federal Register grew by 3,154 pages for a year-to-date total of 87,352 pages. Over the same period in 2019 and 2018, the Federal Register reached 72,564 pages and 68,082 pages, respectively. As of December 31, the 2020 total led the 2019 total by 14,788 pages and the 2018 total by 19,270 pages. 

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

Last week’s Federal Register featured the following 470 documents:

  • 386 notices
  • one presidential document
  • 25 proposed rules
  • 58 final rules

One final rule concerning source classification under the Clean Air Act was deemed significant under E.O. 12866—defined by the potential to 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 issued 34 significant proposed rules, 74 significant final rules, and one significant notice.

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 2019, 2018, and 2017: https://ballotpedia.org/Changes_to_the_Federal_Register 

Additional reading:

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



OIRA reviewed 90 significant rules in December

The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) reviewed a total of 90 significant regulatory actions issued by federal agencies in December 2020. The agency approved five rules without changes and approved the intent of 82 rules while recommending changes to their content. Agencies withdrew two rules from the review process. One rule was subject to a statutory or judicial deadline.

OIRA reviewed 58 significant regulatory actions in December 2019, 31 significant regulatory actions in December 2018, and 30 significant regulatory actions in December 2017.

OIRA reviewed a total of 646 significant rules in 2020. The agency reviewed a total of 475 significant rules in 2019, 355 significant rules in 2018, and 237 significant rules in 2017.

As of January 4, 2021, OIRA’s website listed 118 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:  https://ballotpedia.org/Completed_OIRA_review_of_federal_administrative_agency_rules

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