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Texas GOP Nears Victory Over Map

September 24, 2003|From Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas — After a four-month battle that included two Democratic walkouts, the Texas Senate tentatively approved a redistricting map Tuesday that would give Republicans more seats in Congress.

The bill was approved 18-13 on first reading and is expected to receive final approval today. The House already has approved its own redistricting bill.

After Democrats ended a 45-day boycott, the Senate spent nine hours Tuesday debating amendments and the merits of the redistricting map written by Republican Sen. Todd Staples.

Democrats, who want to keep the existing congressional districts, pledged not to let the Republican-backed effort to redraw the state's congressional lines out of the chamber without a fight -- though they do not have the numbers to block the bill.

Republicans have a 19-12 advantage in the Senate, and it takes only a simple majority to get a bill approved.

Republicans, who rule the Texas House and Senate and occupy each statewide elected office, say the state should have more Republicans representing it in Washington.

Democrats have a 17-15 advantage in the Texas congressional delegation. Under the map, Republicans say the GOP could gain between three and five seats.

Sen. Judith Zaffirini said nine minority senators, all Democrats, believe the map is discriminatory.

But Staples said the plan preserves all minority districts in the state -- seven Latino districts and two black districts -- and that it will withstand any court challenge.

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