Here's a scenario I hadn't considered from the state Senate: Pass a redistricting bill that they like, and then adjourn, leaving the House to take it or lump it:
One way out was outlined on Harvey Kronberg's Quorum Report newsletter. Kronberg reported that senators are considering sending a revised map back to the House and then promptly adjourning, in what is known at the Capitol as "sign-ee dye." (Actually, it's sine die, Latin for "without a day.") Adjourning for good would then put House members in a quandary. With senators gone, there would be no one to negotiate with, so it's either adopt it, or go home without having changed a thing.
Senators supposedly have been mulling a strategy for weeks now, but the talk became louder when they adjourned for the weekend on Thursday. The ploy would be a mainline fix for political junkies, but more important, it would make a loud statement of principle. It would be a strong message that the Texas Senate won't cave in to pressure from U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who hijacked both chambers and the Governor's Mansion during the regular session to try and ram a redistricting plan down our collective throats.
In yesterday's Senate Jurisprudence Committee hearing, attorney J. Gerald Hebert told the panel, "... a vote for suspension is a vote for the final map." That statement encapsulated the problem facing both Democrats and rural Republicans.
If the Senators vote to suspend the rules and bring up a congressional redistricting map, rural Republicans and Democrats could quickly be marginalized by the floor vote and more importantly, the conference committee. After the 2/3s necessary for suspending the rules, every other juncture requires only a simple majority.
Now, if the Senate clears the other items on the agenda first, then votes on redistricting, I could see this happening. Surely the Kip Averitts and Robert Duncans of the group have recognized that while their interests in passing a more Republican-friendly map while not carving up their own territory currently coincide, thus yielding enough votes to kill the House map in a straight up-or-down vote, a joint committee could produce a map that screws them but not others. It's a multiplayer Prisoner's Dilemma game, and I'd guess they'd be worried about losing.
We'll know soon enough, I guess. Via Civic Dialogues.Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 13, 2003 to Killer D's | TrackBack