Redistricting always seems to rear its head mid-decade, long after most states have put their maps away. Texas has redrawn its initial congressional maps at least once every decade since the 1970s — often under court order. With yesterday’s judicial ruling that two districts in Florida were unconstitutional, that state has joined the party this decade.
— A circuit court judge in Florida said Thursday that FL-05 and FL-10 were drawn with partisan intent and will have to be remapped. FL-05 is Rep. Corrine Brown‘s (D) meandering, majority-black district stretching from Jacksonville to Orlando, while FL-10 is Rep. Dan Webster‘s (R) neighboring seat, a R+6 district where Webster nevertheless had a difficult race in 2012.
— Don’t expect anything to change this year; with appeals in the works and Florida’s primaries looming, 2016 is a more likely — and potentially more interesting — time to expect changes to the map, should the decision survive appeal. Consider, especially, that Republicans might not have unified control of a legislative remapping process, should Charlie Crist (D) win the governor’s race.
— Webster’s 2016 race could get very interesting in that scenario. Any changes to the boundaries of his district would seem likely to bring in more of Central Florida’s booming Puerto Rican population, which has helped make the region more Democratic recently — but is largely missing from Webster’s carefully drawn district. Webster ran behind Mitt Romney in 2012, and Democrats would love to have former sheriff and 2012 candidate Val Demings (D) take another shot at some point.
As Florida sorts out its maps and legal challenges, Texas continues to move forward with its own court saga this month. The middle years of this decade have plenty to offer redistricting junkies.
— Scott Bland
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The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has released its score of the House-passed American Health Care Act, which would replace Obamacare. According to the CBO, the bill would reduce the deficit by $119 billion by 2026, while leaving 14 million more Americans uninsured in 2018 than under current law, a number swelling to 23 million by 2026. Further, insurance premiums would balloon 20 percent in 2018 and five percent in 2019 before the waiver provision in the legislation would kick in. The provision allows states to apply for waivers and permit insurers to offer skimpier plans, which would likely entice younger and healthier individuals to buy health insurance while potentially pricing older and less healthy Americans out of insurance plans. House Republicans approved this bill in late April without waiting for the CBO score.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing that President Donald Trump's budget is little more than recycling bin material. "The budget proposed by the president doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of passing," Graham said. Graham had previously opposed the budget over its nearly 30 percent cut to the budget of the State Department. The budget slashes spending on domestic priorities while increasing military spending.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that he doesn't yet know the formula towards gaining passage of an Obamacare replacement in the Senate. "I don't know how we get to 50 (votes) at the moment. But that's the goal," McConnell said. The House passed an Obamacare replacement bill which has been widely seen as dead on arrival in the Senate, and McConnell has put together a working group of Republican Senators working towards creating health care legislation which could gain the support of at least 50 Senators.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."