Texas Passes Congress Map 10/19 06:16
Texas Republicans approved redrawn U.S. House maps that favor incumbents and
decrease political representation for growing minority communities, even as
Latinos drive much of the growth in the nation's largest red state.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Texas Republicans approved redrawn U.S. House maps
that favor incumbents and decrease political representation for growing
minority communities, even as Latinos drive much of the growth in the nation's
largest red state.
The maps were approved late Monday night following outcry from Democrats
over what they claimed was a rushed redistricting process crammed into a 30-day
session, and one which gave little time for public input. They also denounced
the reduction of minority opportunity districts -- Texas will now have seven
House districts where Latino residents hold a majority, down from eight --
despite the state's changing demographics.
"What we are doing in passing this congressional map is a disservice to the
people of Texas," Democratic state Rep. Rafael Anchia said to the chamber just
before the final vote.
GOP Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign off on the changes.
Civil rights groups, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and
Education Fund, sued before Republican lawmakers were even done Monday. The
lawsuit alleges that Republican mapmakers diluted the political strength of
minority voters by not drawing any new districts where Latino residents hold a
majority, despite Latinos making up half of Texas' 4 million new residents over
the last decade.
Abbott's office did not respond to a message seeking comment.
Republicans have said they followed the law in defending the maps, which
protect their slipping grip on Texas by pulling more GOP-leaning voters into
suburban districts where Democrats have made inroads in recent years.
Texas has been routinely dragged into court for decades over voting maps,
and in 2017, a federal court found that a Republican-drawn map was drawn to
intentionally discriminate against minority voters. But two years later, that
same court said there was insufficient reason to take the extraordinary step of
putting Texas back under federal supervision before changing voting laws or
The maps that overhaul how Texas' nearly 30 million residents are sorted
into political districts --- and who is elected to represent them --- bookends
a highly charged year in the state over voting rights. Democratic lawmakers
twice walked out on an elections bill that tightened the state's already strict
voting rules, which they called a brazen attempt to disenfranchise minorities
and other Democratic-leaning voters.
The plan does not create any additional districts where Black or Hispanic
voters make up more than 50% of the voting population, even as people of color
accounted for more than 9 of 10 new residents in Texas over the past decade.
Republican state Sen. Joan Huffman, who authored the maps and leads the
Senate Redistricting Committee, told fellow lawmakers that they were "drawn
blind to race." She said her legal team ensured the plan followed the Voting
The Texas GOP control both chambers of the Legislature, giving them nearly
complete control of the mapmaking process. The state has had to defend their
maps in court after every redistricting process since the Voting Rights Act
took effect in 1965, but this will be the first since a U.S. Supreme Court
ruling said Texas and other states with a history of racial discrimination no
longer need to have the Justice Department scrutinize the maps before they are
However, drawing maps to engineer a political advantage is not
unconstitutional. The proposal would also make an estimated two dozen of the
state's 38 congressional districts safe Republican districts, with an
opportunity to pick up at least one additional newly redrawn Democratic
stronghold on the border with Mexico, according to an analysis by The
Associated Press of data from last year's election collected by the Texas
Legislative Council. Currently, Republicans hold 23 of the state's 36 seats.
Following negotiations between Texas House members and state senators, the
Houston-area districts of U.S. Rep Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat who is
serving her 14th term, and U.S. Rep Al Green, a neighboring Democrat, were
restored, unpairing the two and drawing Jackson Lee's home back into her
Texas lawmakers also approved redrawn maps for their own districts, with
Republicans following a similar plan that does not increase minority
opportunity districts and would keep their party in power in the state House