Missouri House passes new version of a congressional redistricting map
The new map passed by the House likely would keep Missouri’s current congressional delegation of six Republicans and two Democrats. It now goes to the Missouri Senate with only four days left in the legislative session.
After weeks of inaction on the Missouri legislature’s constitutional duty to pass a map redrawing the state’s congressional districts, members of the House have passed another map that would likely keep Missouri’s congressional delegation the same.
Representatives voted 101-47 on Monday to pass the map, which is likely to send six Republicans and two Democrats to Washington. It’s possibly the last chance the legislature has to pass a map before the 2022 legislative session ends at 6 p.m. Friday.
“I would appreciate a yes vote on this. I think this gives us the best chance to fulfill our constitutional obligation by the end of session,” Rep. Dan Shaul, R-Imperial, said.
The House also voted to pass an emergency clause on the bill, meaning if the Senate can pass it with the clause intact, the map would go into effect as soon as Gov. Mike Parson signs it.
Like the map the House passed before, the new map keeps the Kansas City area together, leaving the 5th Congressional District a likely Democratic seat. U.S. Rep. Cori Bush’s seat, which includes St. Louis, is protected by the Voting Rights Act and remains a minority majority district.
One of the biggest changes to the map in the St. Louis area is the makeup of the 3rd Congressional District, which now in addition to including parts of St. Charles County, goes as far west as Cooper County and as far south as Washington County.
“It looks like a person who’s wrapping their loving arms around the 1st and 2nd, so I don't really consider that, you know, intact, but it is the way they set the 3rd up,” Rep. Donna Baringer, D-St. Louis, said.
While the map and its emergency clause did receive votes from both Republicans and Democrats, it also received criticism from both parties about not only the map itself, but the Senate’s actions regarding the original map.
Rep. Jerome Barnes, D-Raytown, spoke against what he felt was too short a time to consider the map and advance it though the House.
“This new bill is moving too fast. The public has not been able to give their input, and that's who we represent down here in Jeff City,” Barnes said.
Missouri is one of the few states still without a new redistricting map and is facing lawsuits due to its inaction, leaving the possibility of the courts drawing the map as opposed to lawmakers.
With just four days remaining in the legislative session, the bill has an additional hurdle: the Senate, where the topic of a congressional map has been a consistent source of tension and gridlock.
House members in January passed their first version of the map. After a full week of debate in the Senate, it did not move forward until senators passed their version in late March. The Senate did not agree to the House’s request to a conference committee to reach a compromise.
“What have they done since the end of March? With regard to our request to go to conference, we all know what they've done, they've done zero. They are ignoring their constitutional obligations to the people of the state,” Rep. John Black, R-Marshfield, said.
A Missouri Senate committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday afternoon on the House's map. But its chances of making it to the finish line are not certain.
Some of the biggest critics of the House’s prior map were members of the Conservative Caucus, which normally consists of around seven members of the 34-member Senate.
On Tuesday, Sen. Bob Onder said in an exchange with Sen. Bill White on another piece of legislation that the "session will be over" if Senate leaders bring the map up. He said in an earlier interview that the map the House passed wasn't beneficial enough for the GOP.
“In some ways, the House map is inferior to the Senate map," Onder said. "So no, I’m not a fan.”
Onder was part of a minority of Republicans who wanted to draw a map that would send seven Republicans to Congress as well as not making the 2nd Congressional District a safer Republican seat.
Both Senate Democrats and Conservative Caucus members agreed the map the Senate passed in March was likely as good as it was going to get.
“I think at this point, if there was a unicorn map out there to make everyone happy, it would have reared its head,” Sen. John Rizzo, D-Independence, said.
Now, it’s again up to the Senate to see if there is a path forward in drawing new districts before adjournment at the end of the week.
St. Louis Public Radio's Jason Rosenbaum added information to this report.