Texas Congressional Redistricting Could Net Pro-Life Votes

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 10, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Texas Congressional Redistricting Could Net Pro-Life Votes

by Joe Kral
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
July 10, 2003

Austin, TX (LifeNews.com) — It is said that very little is hotter than a Texas summer. However, one of those rare things is congressional redistricting—Texas style. 

This week the Texas House of Representatives successfully passed its version of the new U.S. Congressional lines for the state. However, the main source of contention is that it would give the majority of the Texas delegation to the Republicans, which has Texas Democrats in an uproar.

The map would allow Republicans to have as many as 21 seats in Congress.  Currently, the congressional districts have a 17-15 Democratic majority representing the Texas delegation.

Many Texas House Democrats have argued that the version that just passed would hurt minority voting rights and comes at huge price for rural representation. However, Republicans, such Phil King (R-Weatherford), the bill’s author, have countered in the Houston Chronicle by stating, "It’s a fair map. It’s been an open process."

Pro-Life organizations share King’s view and agree redistricting should reflect the majority opinion of Texans. 

Elizabeth Graham, Associate Director for Texas Right to Life stated, "Redistricting in Texas is long overdue because the current congressional lines do not accurately reflect the voting sentiments of Texans. Texans are largely pro-life, and new congressional lines will allow TX to send more pro-lifers to US Congress. Texas sends 32 Congressmen to Washington.  New lines would allow us to send as many as two new pro-life Democrats and five or so new pro-life Republicans."

Mike Hannesschlager, Executive Director of the Texas Christian Coalition, agrees. 

"Congressional redistricting should accurately reflect the reality of Texas politics – that the majority of grassroots voters are conservative," he told LifeNews.com. "The lines must be fair, with neither party attempting to gouge the other. Lines drawn fairly will do justice to the decades-long conservative shift in Texas politics."

The bill now goes to the Texas Senate where it faces other substantial obstacles. 

One such obstacle is that some Texas Republican senators want to draw their own maps or that the House version needs to be modified. 

However, the biggest obstacle that the House map faces is what many in the Texas Legislature and lobby refer to as the two-thirds rule.  TIn order for a bill to be considered on the Senate floor, twenty-one senators must vote to allow the rules to be suspended. The current Texas Senate is comprised of 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats. In order for any bill to be successfully blocked from coming up for Senate debate only 11 senators need to pledge to vote against that particular bill.

However, despite such obstacles, many in the Pro-Life movement see congressional redistricting as opportunity to further pro-life goals in the US House of Representatives.

Graham stated, "More pro-lifers from Texas in Congress should help guarantee a pro-life majority in the US House for decades."

"Our prediction is that fair redistricting will have a profound impact on pro-life legislation in Washington. The more pro-life Congressmen in Washington, the more that pro-life issues will be on the front-burner," said Hannesschlager.

Two months ago, 52 Texas House Democrats left the state and went to Ardmore, Oklahoma four days before the deadline in which all house bills had to be read a second time in order to be considered viable.

The tactic broke a quorum for many days, which is needed to conduct business in the Texas House. This political maneuver by the Texas House Democrats not only killed congressional redistricting for the Regular Session; it also killed HB 1175, the Human Cloning Prohibition Act. 

As a result of the Ardmore incident, Texas Governor Rick Perry called a Special Session to handle congressional redistricting, which began on June 30.