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Voters to decide runoff election in Texas’ 6th Congressional District

The Federal Tap

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Our weekly summary of federal news highlights the runoff election in the special election for Texas’ 6th Congressional District and the primaries for the special election for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap.

Congress is in session

Both the House and Senate are in session next week. Click here to see the full calendar for the first session of the 117th Congress.

SCOTUS is out of session

The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments next week. To learn about the 2020-2021 term, click here.

Where was the president last week?

On Monday and Tuesday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C. 

On Wednesday, Biden participated in a CNN town hall in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

On Thursday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C. 

On Friday, Biden departed Washington, D.C., for Wilmington, Delaware. 

Federal Judiciary

  • 82 federal judicial vacancies
  • 22 pending nominations
  • 31 future federal judicial vacancies

Ballotpedia’s polling index shows presidential approval at 51%, congressional approval at 23%

Ballotpedia’s polling index showed President Joe Biden (D) at 51% approval and 43% disapproval as of July 22. At this time last month, his approval rating was at 52%.

The highest approval rating Biden has received during his tenure is 55%, last seen on May 26. This week’s approval rating matches his lowest of 51% on March 29.

Congressional approval is at 23% and disapproval is at 56%, according to our index. At this time last month, congressional approval was at 19%.

The highest approval rating the 117th Congress has received is the 36% received last week (July 15). The lowest approval rating it has received is 19%, last seen on June 23.

At this time during the tenure of former President Donald Trump (R), presidential approval was at 41% and congressional approval was at 19%. To see more comparisons between Biden and Trump administration polling, click here.

Voters to decide runoff election in Texas’ 6th Congressional District on July 27

Texas’ 6th Congressional District will hold a special election runoff on July 27. Jake Ellzey (R) and Susan Wright (R) are running to fill the vacancy left by Rep. Ronald Wright (R), who died from COVID-19 related complications on Feb. 7. The district is located in the northeastern portion of the state and includes Ellis and Navarro counties and an area of Tarrant County.

Susan Wright is Ronald Wright’s widow. Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed her on April 26. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) endorsed Ellzey.

Since both runoff candidates are Republicans, the district will not change party hands as a result of the election. The two advanced from a 23-candidate special election on May 1. Wright received 19.2% of the vote, while Ellzey received 13.8% of the vote.

Three special elections to the 117th Congress have taken place so far in 2021. The election in Texas’ 6th is one of four more currently scheduled.

New Jersey chief justice asks political parties to submit consensus candidate for congressional redistricting commission

On July 20, New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner asked Democrats and Republicans to reconvene and select a consensus candidate as the 13th member of the state’s congressional redistricting commission

According to state law, 12 of the 13 commissioners are appointed by the majority and minority leaders of the legislature and the chairs of the state’s two major political parties. These 12 commissioners then appoint the last commission member. If they cannot agree on an appointment, the commissioners must submit two names to the state supreme court and the court must then appoint the final commissioner. 

According to The New Jersey Globe, “This is the first time the two parties haven’t agreed on a thirteenth member for congressional redistricting. The Supreme Court option wasn’t involved in 1991, 2001 and 2011.” Chief Justice Rabner gave the commissioners until July 30 to respond with a consensus candidate. If they do not, the state supreme court will pick a tie-breaker candidate by Aug. 10.

Primaries for the special election to Ohio’s 15th Congressional District on Aug. 3

Ohio’s primary on Aug. 3 is less than two weeks away, and in the state’s 15th Congressional District, four Republican candidates are leading media attention and endorsements: Mike Carey, Ruth Edmonds, Jeff LaRe, and Bob Peterson

The Republican nominee will face the winner of the Democratic primary in a special election on Nov. 2, 2021. Greg Betts and Allison Russo are running in the Democratic primary.

The special election will fill the vacancy left by Steve Stivers (R), who resigned to become the president and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, effective May 16, 2021. Stivers had held the district since 2011 and won his last re-election in 2020 with a 26.8 point margin-of-victory against Joel Newby (D).

Carey, past president and chairman of the Ohio Coal Association and U.S. Army National Guard veteran, has said he will “bring back America First policies and rebuild the American economy.” He was endorsed by former President Donald Trump (R).

Endorsed by the Right Women PAC, Edmonds is an ordained minister and former president of the Ohio NAACP. She has said she is “Committed to Life [and] to ending the hateful rhetoric around race.”

Private security executive and member of the Ohio state legislature, LaRe has said his “top priority is keeping our communities and our families safe.” He was endorsed by the previous officeholder, Steve Stivers.

Peterson was endorsed by the Ohio Right to Life PAC. A farmer and member of the Ohio state legislature, he has said he is a “tireless advocate for faith, family and freedom.” 

The seven other candidates also running in the primary are: John Adams, Eric M. Clark, Thad Cooperridder, Ron Hood, Tom Hwang, Stephanie Kunze, and Omar Tarazi.

As of July 2021, the Ohio House delegation consisted of three Democrats and 11 Republicans, with two seats up for special election this year. The overall partisan composition of the U.S. House is 220 Democrats and 211 Republicans. The general election is rated as Solid Republican by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales.

Campaign finance data has not yet been released on the race, but on July 14, Politico cited advertising data to report that Rep. Stivers had “spent nearly $300,000 in remaining funds from his campaign account” on LaRe’s campaign, while the Protect Freedom PAC had reserved $216,000 in advertising time for Hood.

To learn more about the candidates’ platforms or to find out what other races are on your ballot, check out Ballotpedia’s Sample Ballot Lookup tool.

Vice President Harris casts eighth tie-breaking vote in Senate

Vice President Kamala Harris (D) cast her eighth tie-breaking vote in the Senate on July 21 to confirm Jennifer Ann Abruzzo as general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board. The Senate voted 50-50 along party lines.

Harris previously cast tie-breaking votes related to the confirmation processes of Kiran Ahuja for director of the Office of Personnel Management and Colin Kahl for under secretary of defense for policy.

In the past four decades, vice presidents have cast a total of 40 tie-breaking votes. Vice President Mike Pence (R) cast the most during this time period with 13 tie-breaking votes.

John Adams cast the first tie-breaking vote on July 18, 1789. In total, there have been 276 tie-breaking votes from 37 vice presidents. Twelve vice presidents, including Joe Biden (D) and Dan Quayle (R), never cast a tie-breaking vote during their time in office.



The Federal Tap: Early voting begins in runoff in Texas’ 6th Congressional District

The Federal Tap

Our weekly summary of federal news highlights the start of early voting in the special runoff election between two Republicans in Texas’ 6th Congressional District and the Supreme Court’s announcement of the list of cases it will hear at the start of the October 2021-2022 term. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap.

Early voting begins July 19 in runoff in Texas’ 6th Congressional District

Voters in Texas’ 6th Congressional District may vote early from July 19 to July 23 in the district’s special election runoff. Jake Ellzey (R) and Susan Wright (R) are running in the July 27 race to fill the vacancy left when the previous incumbent, Ronald Wright (R), died from COVID-19 related complications on Feb. 7. The district is located in the northeastern portion of the state and includes Ellis and Navarro counties and an area of Tarrant County.

Susan Wright is Ronald Wright’s widow. Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed her on April 26. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) endorsed Ellzey.

Since both runoff candidates are Republicans, the seat will not change party hands as a result of the election. The two advanced from a 23-candidate special election on May 1. Wright received 19.2% of the vote while Ellzey received 13.8% of the vote. 

U.S. Supreme Court releases October 2021 argument calendar

The Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) released its argument calendar for the 2021-2022 term’s October sitting on July 13. The court will hear nine hours of oral argument in nine cases between Oct. 4 and Oct. 13. 

Click the links below to learn more about each case:

October 4, 2021

October 5, 2021

October 6, 2021

October 12, 2021

October 13, 2021

To date, 20 cases that have been granted review during the term have not yet been scheduled for argument. Two cases were dismissed after they were accepted. The court has agreed to hear 31 cases so far during its 2021-2022 term.

Where was the president last week?

  • On Monday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C.
  • On Tuesday, Biden delivered remarks in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • Biden remained in Washington, D.C. for the rest of the week.

Federal Judiciary

  • 83 federal judicial vacancies
  • 23 pending nominations
  • 31 future federal judicial vacancies

Leading Democrats announce campaign appearances in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District special election

Two Democratic candidates have announced campaign appearances by nationally known figures ahead of the special Democratic primary election in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District on Aug. 3. The election is being held to fill the vacancy left when Biden appointed former incumbent Marcia Fudge (D) secretary of housing and urban development. Thirteen candidates are running in the Democratic primary.

Nina Turner announced on July 15 that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) will campaign for her in Northeast Ohio on July 24. Ocasio-Cortez is one of six representatives that refer to themselves as The Squad, along with Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). All have endorsed Turner, a former state senator and co-chair of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) 2020 presidential campaign.

National Journal columnist Josh Kraushaar tweeted that House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus will be in the 11th District the weekend ahead of the election to campaign for Shontel Brown, a member of the Cuyahoga County Council and chair of the county Democratic Party.

Michigan Supreme Court rejects independent commission’s request to extend redistricting deadlines

The Michigan Supreme Court rejected a request on July 9 by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to extend the state’s constitutional deadlines for adopting new redistricting plans. This means that the constitutional deadlines–presentation to the public by Sept. 17 and adoption by Nov. 1–remain in effect. 

The commission had argued that it would “not be able to comply with the constitutionally imposed timeline,” due to delays in receiving detailed redistricting data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The commission had asked the state supreme court to order the commission to propose plans within 72 days of the receipt of redistricting data and to approve plans within 45 days thereafter.

In its unsigned order, the court said that it was “not persuaded that it should grant the requested relief.” In her concurring opinion, Justice Elizabeth Welch wrote, “The Court’s decision is not a reflection on the merits of the questions briefed or how this Court might resolve a future case raising similar issues. It is indicative only that a majority of this Court believes that the anticipatory relief sought is unwarranted.”

Congress is in session

Both the House and Senate are in session next week. Click here to see the full calendar for the first session of the 117th Congress.

SCOTUS is out of session

The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments next week. To learn about the 2020-2021 term, click here.

Ballotpedia’s polling index shows presidential approval at 52%, congressional approval at 36%

Ballotpedia’s polling index showed President Joe Biden (D) at 52% approval and 43% disapproval as of July 15. At this time last month, his approval rating was at 53%.

The highest approval rating Biden has received during his tenure is 55%, last seen on May 26. The lowest approval rating he has received is 51% on March 29.

Congressional approval is at 36% and disapproval is at 55%, according to our index. At this time last month, congressional approval was at 26%.

The 117th Congress’ current approval rating of 36% is the highest it has received. The lowest approval rating it has received is 19%, last seen on June 23.

At this time during the tenure of former President Donald Trump (R), presidential approval was at 41% and congressional approval was at 20%. To see more comparisons between Biden and Trump administration polling, click here.

President Biden signs proclamations commemorating Atomic Veterans Day, Captive Nations Week

President Joe Biden (D) signed a proclamation on July 15, declaring July 16 as National Atomic Veterans Day. The commemoration honors veterans of the armed forces who were exposed to radiation between 1945 and 1962 in the course of their military service. President Ronald Reagan (R) was the first president to recognize National Atomic Veterans Day, doing so on July 16, 1983.

Among the honorees are service members who were in or near Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the time of the atomic bombings, and those who worked at nuclear test sites in the U.S. The United States detonated the first nuclear device in world history on July 16, 1945, in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
On July 16, Biden signed a proclamation declaring July 18 through 24 as Captive Nations Week. Biden said the week was dedicated to awareness and remembrance of people living in undemocratic nations and specifically mentioned ongoing unrest in Belarus, China, Burma, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Ukraine. President Dwight Eisenhower (R) was the first president to recognize Captive Nations Week in 1960.



Federal Tap: Senate confirms first Biden-appointed judges

Our weekly summary of federal news highlights Biden’s first judges confirmed by the U.S. Senate and Val Demings’ announcement that she’s running for the U.S. Senate seat from Florida. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap.

Status of the Federal Branches

Is Congress in session?

Both the House and Senate are in session next week. Click here to see the full calendar for the first session of the 117th Congress.

Is the Supreme Court in session?

The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments next week. To learn about the 2020-2021 term, click here.

Where was the president last week?

  • On Monday and Tuesday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C.
  • On Wednesday, Biden delivered remarks to U.S. Air Force personnel and their families stationed at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, United Kingdom.
  • On Thursday, Biden participated in a bilateral meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Carbis Bay, United Kingdom.

What’s the latest with the federal judiciary?

  • 83 federal judicial vacancies
  • 15 pending nominations
  • 30 future federal judicial vacancies

U.S. Supreme Court accepts case for next term

The U.S. Supreme Court issued orders on June 7 emanating from their June 3 conference. The court accepted one new case to be argued during the upcoming 2021-2022 term: Federal Bureau of Investigation v. Fazaga. The case concerns the state-secrets privilege and originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. 

Three residents of Southern California who practice Islam filed a class-action lawsuit in U.S. district court against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). They alleged that the FBI paid a confidential informant to surveil Muslims based solely on their religious identity for more than a year as part of a counterterrorism investigation and that the program included unlawful searches and anti-Muslim discrimination. The FBI asserted the state-secrets privilege and moved to dismiss the case. The district court dismissed all but one of the plaintiffs’ claims. On appeal, the 9th Circuit upheld in part and reversed in part the district court’s judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings to review the case’s evidence for privilege.

To date, the court has accepted 19 cases for argument next term. Including FBI v. Fazaga, the court has granted review in four cases originating from the 9th Circuit. 

SCOTUS issues rulings in two cases

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued rulings in two cases. Sanchez v. Mayorkas was decided on Monday, June 7, and Borden v. United States was decided by the court on Thursday, June 10.

Sanchez v. Mayorkas concerned grants of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to non-citizens. In a unanimous ruling, SCOTUS upheld the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s ruling, holding that a TPS recipient who unlawfully entered the country is not eligible for lawful-permanent-resident (LPR) status solely based on their TPS grant. Justice Elena Kagan authored the court’s majority opinion. 

Borden v. United States concerned the “use of force” clause in the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). In a 5-4 opinion, the court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that a reckless offense cannot qualify as a “violent felony” if it only requires a mens rea of recklessness–a less culpable mental state than purpose or knowledge. Justice Elena Kagan delivered the court’s majority opinion, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Neil Gorsuch. Justice Clarence Thomas filed a concurring opinion. Justice Brett Kavanaugh filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Amy Coney Barrett.

To date, the court has decided 44 cases, and 21 are yet to be decided this term.

Senate confirms first Biden-appointed judges

Last week, the U.S. Senate confirmed three of President Joe Biden’s (D) federal judicial nominees to Article III courts, marking the first federal judicial confirmations of the Biden administration. Two were confirmed on June 8, and one nominee was confirmed on June 10.

  • Julien Xavier Neals, U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, by a 66-33 vote.
  • Regina Rodriguez, U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, by a 72-28 vote.
  • Zahid Quraishi, U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, by an 81-16 vote.

The three confirmed nominees were officially nominated by Biden on April 19 and had their nomination hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 28. Each of the nominees was rated as well qualified by the American Bar Association.

The confirmed nominees will join their respective courts upon receiving their judicial commissions and taking their judicial oaths.

Ballotpedia’s polling index shows presidential approval at 53%, congressional approval at 26%

Ballotpedia’s polling index showed President Joe Biden (D) at 53% approval and 41% disapproval as of June 11. At this time last month, his approval rating was also at 53%.

The highest approval rating Biden has received during his tenure is 55%, last seen on May 26. The lowest approval rating he has received is 51% on March 29.

Congressional approval is at 26%, and disapproval is at 60%, according to our index. At this time last month, congressional approval was at 30%.

The highest approval rating the 117th Congress has received is 30%, last seen on May 11. The lowest approval rating it has received is 20%, last seen on March 3.

At this time during the tenure of former President Donald Trump (R), presidential approval was at 42%, and congressional approval was at 18%. To see more comparisons between Biden and Trump administration polling, click here.

Demings announces run for U.S. Senate from Florida

U.S. Rep. Val Demings (D) officially announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate on June 9. Demings currently represents Florida’s 10th Congressional District. Marco Rubio (R) is Florida’s incumbent U.S. Senator who is up for election in 2022. He was first elected to the Senate in 2010.

Demings announced she was running in a three-minute video in which she discussed how her upbringing and experiences had given her “tireless faith that things can always get better.” Demings said in the video, “I have never tired of representing Florida. Not for one single moment.”

Demings first ran for Florida’s 10th Congressional District seat in 2012, losing to incumbent Daniel Webster (R), 51% to 48%. She ran again in 2016 to represent District 10 after Webster decided to run in the 11th District. Demings defeated Thuy Lowe (R), 65% to 35% in 2016. She was re-elected in 2018 and 2020.

Demings is the 12th member of the House of Representatives to announce they are retiring or seeking another office. Six of those are Democrats, and six are Republicans. Demings is one of four members who are seeking a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Biden makes first overseas trip to Europe as president

President Joe Biden (D) began his first trip abroad as president on June 9 with a trip to the United Kingdom, where he met British Prime Minister Boris Johnson the following day. Biden will remain overseas until June 16. Here’s the rest of his schedule:

  • June 11-13: Biden will attend the G7 summit and hold bilateral meanings with other G7 leaders. He will also meet with Queen Elizabeth II.
  • June 14: Biden will be in Brussels, meeting with NATO leaders and holding a private session with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
  • June 15: Biden will continue to attend NATO meetings before flying to Geneva.
  • June 16: Biden will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.