North Carolina Gerrymander Ruled Unconstitutional
North Carolina Congressional Map Ruled Unconstitutionally Gerrymandered. NYT: "A panel of federal judges struck down North Carolina’s congressional map on Tuesday, condemning it as unconstitutional because Republicans had drawn the map seeking a political advantage. The ruling was the first time that a federal court had blocked a congressional map because of a partisan gerrymander, and it instantly endangered Republican seats in the coming elections. The ruling and its chief demand — that the Republican-dominated Legislature create a new landscape of congressional districts by Jan. 24 — infused new turmoil into the political chaos that has in recent years enveloped North Carolina... The unusually blunt decision by the panel could lend momentum to two other challenges on gerrymandering that are already before the Supreme Court."
Floor Vote To Preserve Net Neutrality
Democrats just forced a Senate vote on net neutrality. Salon: "Senate Democrats may not be able to stop the repeal of net neutrality, but they will at the very least force Republicans to pay a political price for causing it to happen. Thirty Democrats have voted to use the Congressional Review Act to prevent the Federal Communications Commission from repealing net neutrality, according to New York Magazine. Because a proposed bill only needs 30 Senate sponsors to receive a full vote on the floor, the Senate Democrats have effectively forced their Republican colleagues to vote on whether the 2015 Open Internet Order (which enforced net neutrality) should remain in place. 'Republicans are faced with a choice — be on the right side of history and stand with the American people who support a free and open internet, or hold hands with the special interests who want to control the internet for their own profit,' Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., explained in a statement."
Federal Judge Upholds DACA Protections
Judge Tells Trump That DACA Protections Must Continue for Now. NYT: "In the middle of the intense political fight about the DACA program for 'Dreamers' who were brought illegally to the United States as children, a federal judge in California late Tuesday issued a nationwide injunction ordering the administration to start the program back up again, saying the decision to kill it was improper. Critics of President Trump’s decision to end the DACA protections for the Dreamers had sued the administration, saying that the decision to end the Obama-era program was arbitrary and done without following the proper procedures. U.S. District Judge William Alsup agreed, writing in his ruling that the administration must 'maintain the DACA program on a nationwide basis' as the legal challenge to the president’s decision goes forward. The judge wrote that previous recipients of the DACA protections must be allowed to renew their status in the program."
Trump Encourages Lawmakers To Bring Back Earmarks
'Drain the Swamp' Trump suggests reviving 'earmarks' in Congress. Reuters: "President Donald Trump unexpectedly suggested on Tuesday that bringing back congressional 'earmarks,' spending habits that were banished six years ago from the federal budget process, might help an often deadlocked U.S. Congress get things done. Known by their supporters as the 'grease' that made Washington's wheels turn, earmarks were funds allocated for lawmakers' pet projects that helped secure votes needed to get broader legislation passed... His surprise suggestion prompted Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, to exclaim,'Yeah!,' while drawing objections and laughter from others in the room. Congress resisted using earmarks routinely for decades, but they became commonplace in the 1990s and helped define Washington's image as a 'swamp' of special interests. As a 2016 presidential candidate, Trump made 'Drain the Swamp' a campaign theme and popular slogan at his political rallies."
Florida Will Be Exempted From Offshore Drilling Plan
Trump administration says no oil drilling off Florida coast. WaPo: " The Trump administration said Tuesday it would not allow oil drilling off the coast of Florida, abruptly reversing course under pressure from Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said after a brief meeting with Scott at the Tallahassee airport that drilling would be 'off the table' when it comes to waters in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean off Florida. The change of course — just five days after Zinke announced the offshore drilling plan — highlights the political importance of Florida, where President Trump narrowly won the state’s 29 electoral votes in the 2016 election and has encouraged Scott to run for Senate. The state is also important economically, with a multibillion-dollar tourism business built on sunshine and miles of white sandy beaches. Zinke said Tuesday that “Florida is obviously unique” and that the decision to remove the state came after meetings and discussion with Scott."