The current map includes 76 Trump-led districts and 74 Biden-led districts, but the House’s proposed changes shift that support to 85 in favor of Trump and 65 in support of Biden. The map will still need approval from the Senate before it makes it to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.
Members debated the proposal starting on Tuesday for more than 17 hours and discussed more than 50 amendments, of which about 40 were accepted, and took a final vote in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Yet under the proposed House map, fewer districts are majority-minority, with the number of district’s with a majority Black voting-age population dropping from seven to six and majority Hispanic from 33 to 30. The number of white-majority districts, meanwhile, would jump from 83 to 89.
Democrats have condemned the map, as well as those the Republicans drafted for the Texas Senate and U.S. House, for not reflecting the explosive growth in communities of color. In the last 10 years, the state’s population grew by 4 million people, overwhelmingly driven by increases in Black, Latino and Asian residents.
Republicans currently outnumber Democrats in the chamber 83-67. The chamber’s seats are almost evenly split between districts that favored Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden in 2020.
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“The proposed Texas House plan repeats the infirmities described by federal courts during the last decade by diluting the voting power of Texans of diverse population,” said state Rep. Rafael Anchía. “This process is out of step not only with the desires of members but also the Texas Constitution and the desires of the people of Texas.”
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House redistricting chair state Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, vigorously defended the maps and disagreed with that assertion. He said Republicans were cognizant of the Voting Rights Act and other legal requirements when drafting the maps. “In some of these instances, the reductions were unavoidable, and most importantly, in none of these instances was the minorities’ ability to elect their preferred candidate of choice affected materially,” he said. “In almost all instances, these districts will continue to overwhelmingly elect the minority-preferred candidate.”
“When you consider the population increases in Texas and where they took place, we believe this is a good plan,” he added. The maps will almost certainly be challenged in court, as Democrats and voting rights advocates have done in the past. The litigation often lasts for years.
Democratic district moved 600 miles The proposed changes to the Houston area would help Republicans retain their hold on power by moving Democratic voters in competitive areas to districts that already lean blue.
In nearby Fort Bend County, an area with rapid minority population growth that has become increasingly blue in recent elections, Republicans shored up the battleground district represented by freshman GOP Rep. Jacey Jetton of Richmond by adding part of Katy and the red-leaning suburbs south of the city. Jetton’s district would also offload Democratic voters to a new district anchored in Sugar Land. Under the new map, Trump would have carried Jetton’s district by about 11 points in 2020, instead of losing it by about 3. The new Sugar Land seat, District 76, would have favored Biden by a 23-point margin, likely putting it out of reach for Republicans.
As in other metro areas around the state, however, Republicans did not have enough voters to shore up every GOP-controlled district in Houston. The Energy Corridor district represented by state Rep. Jim Murphy, a Republican who is not seeking re-election, would cede some GOP precincts to Hull. While Trump won Murphy’s district by 4 percentage points in 2020, he would have carried it by about 2 percentage points under the new map. For example, in west Harris County, two red-leaning suburban seats represented by Republican state Reps. Mike Schofield of Katy and Lacey Hull of Houston are strengthened by adding some red-leaning precincts from Democratic state Rep. Jon Rosenthal’s neighboring district. The two GOP districts would also offload blue-leaning precincts to Rosenthal’s district, making his more solidly Democratic.