Republicans have been weighing their next move and consulting lawyers who have warned staff members and legislators that they should not speak publicly because of the likelihood of litigation.
Meanwhile, Democrats have been exploring what course of legal action they would take if the bill becomes law, poring over the state constitution, a recent Richmond Circuit Court decision in a redistricting case and similar cases across the country.
On Wednesday, Del. David J. Toscano (D-Charlottesville) reminded the speaker of his options on the House floor.
“We didn’t do this,” Toscano, who is the House Democratic leader, told his fellow delegates. “They put us in a very difficult situation. I hope we can find a way to get out of it. For several reasons, it should be pretty easy for us to dispose of this bill.”
Toscano said he has not spoken to Howell about how the speaker would handle the redistricting proposal. Like others in recent days, Toscano said the move was not in the spirit of how business is done in the General Assembly.
“This interjects a level of partisanship we don’t need,” he said.
McDonnell planned on support from Democrats for his ambitious transportation funding plan, but they say the redistricting plan has ruined any chance of that.
“If they’re going to play these games with us, they should not expect our cooperation,” said Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax).
McDonnell has voiced his displeasure and frustration over the Senate’s decision on redistricting, which has shifted the conversation away from the governor’s final-session priorities of transportation and education.
“It’s an unexpected issue to have to contend with,” said McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin. “We’re out there every day talking about transportation, education and the budget. We will deal with other legislation in due course, as it gets to us, if it gets to us.”