Republicans, now in control of both the Senate and House, are wasting no time in passing a congressional redistricting plan that Democrats say fails to represent the minority population in the state.
The House of Delegates tentatively passed a plan Thursday that largely protects the 11 sitting congressmen, despite pleas by Democrats that it be postponed. A final vote is expected Friday.
“Some of us are concerned why this is being rushed through on the second day of the session,’’ said Del. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond).
The Senate will take up the bill early next week. The bill had passed the same map last year, drawn in consultation with Virginia’s incumbent congressmen, to reflect population shifts revealed by the 2010 Census. The House plan, like Virginia’s current map, includes one minority-minority district.
The Senate, previously led by Democrats, had passed a competing map which would have created a district in which black voters are a sizeable minority, in addition to another district in which they hold a majority.
Senate Democrats had said a new minority “influence district” would ensure that the state’s congressional delegation was more likely to reflect the state’s demographics. Though almost 20 percent of Virginia’s population is black, only one of its members of Congress is African American.
States must redraw their legislative and congressional maps every 10 years in response to population shifts to ensure that each district contains about the same number of people and all state residents have equal representation in Congress.
Legislators have been struggling with redistricting since last year. Many say they believe the state Constitution mandates that redistricting occur in 2011, the same year as the census numbers are released, but the General Assembly postponed the vote until this year.