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Missouri House sends congressional map to Senate without an emergency clause

A redrawn congressional map cleared the Missouri House on Wednesday, but without an emergency clause needed for it to go into effect before the Aug. 2 primary.

Now, the map heads to the state Senate, where members of the chamber’s conservative caucus are already denouncing it for not doing away with a safe Democratic seat based in Kansas City.

Instead, the House map maintains the current partisan balance of the state’s congressional delegation: 6 Republican seats and two Democratic seats.

While the map won House approval Wednesday by a vote of 86 to 67, the emergency clause failed to garner the 109 votes it needed to pass. It earned just 95 votes in support.

The once-a-decade redistricting process is on a tight timeline after delays in U.S. Census data due to the pandemic and Gov. Mike Parson’s refusal to call a special session last year devoted to redrawing congressional maps.

Democrats previously said the departure of several House GOP members would work in their favor and give them leverage as to whether they would give House Republicans the two-thirds majority necessary to pass an emergency clause.

Without an emergency clause, the map would go into effect Aug. 28.

Rep. Raychel Proudie, D-Ferguson, was the lone Democrat to vote in support of the emergency clause. Democratic Reps. Rasheen Aldridge, Kevin Windham and Mark Sharp voted “present,” and the remaining Democratic members in the chamber voted against. 

Thirteen Republican members also voted against the emergency clause.

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, questioned whether the “doomsday, ceiling falling conversation” was necessary. If it was truly an emergency, then Parson should have called a special session, she said.

“We might get blamed for the chaos,” Quade said, “but our job is not to vote on things based on what we get blamed for and what we don’t get blamed for.”

Rep. Dan Shaul, R-Imperial and chair of the House Special Committee on Redistricting, said failing to pass an emergency clause would lead to uncertainty in the redistricting process. He urged his colleagues to adopt one in order to “streamline the process.”

“We have an obligation to the rest of the people in this state to move other legislation that they sent us here for,” Shaul said, stressing that constitutional obligations like the state budget still require passage this session.

While an emergency clause can be added in the Senate, it would still have to come back to the House to be approved, where it would need to reach the 109 vote threshold.

Meanwhile, the divide over whether the map should be redrawn to ensure seven safe Republican seats led to bitter words on both the House and Senate floors Wednesday.

Rep. Jim Murphy, R-St. Louis, said he promised House leadership he would vote in support of the 6-2 map Wednesday, and said he was “ashamed” of senators who he said threatened he would be punished if he didn’t change his vote.

Murphy stressed the map still faces a long fight in the Senate where senators are “going to go to war.” A conference between the House and Senate versions of Congressional maps is likely, Murphy said. 

“For God’s sake, why can’t we be statesmen around here?” he said. “Why do we have to threaten each other? Why do we have to go on the internet and just call each other names? That’s not the way this process is supposed to work.”

As the House kicked off debate Wednesday, conservative senators who have pushed for a 7-1 map were quick to express their disappointment, alleging that House leadership endorsed a map that would result in a third seat in favor of Democrats.

“Why would a supermajority of Republicans in the House actually vote on a map that will increase support for the Joe Biden agenda in Washington D.C.?”  said state Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring. “Why would they do that? I mean, that just strikes me as bizarre.”

Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, said there’s been a “bogus narrative” floated about the necessity of an emergency clause and called the map the House passed “the lemming map.”

“We have lemmings ready to run over the side of the cliff to their own destruction,” he said. “And I don’t know whose thinking and whose interests are being served by this map. But I know for sure it’s not the people of the state of Missouri.”

Rep. Don Rone, R-Portageville, said he didn’t like the proposed map but acknowledged the redistricting process had to start somewhere.

“We deserve better than what we’re getting at the other end of the building,” Rone said.

Under the map passed Wednesday, the counties of Ray, Saline and Lafayette would be sliced off of the 5th Congressional District, which includes Kansas City and is currently represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver.

The counties of Saline and Lafayette would be absorbed into the 4th Congressional District, which is currently represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who is running for Roy Blunt’s open U.S. Senate seat.

Meanwhile the 2nd Congressional District, which is represented by Republican U.S. Rep Ann Wagner, would extend further into St. Charles County — but not encompass the entirety of the county as a contingent of Republican lawmakers wanted.

“I arguably think we’re going backwards,” said Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, who had proposed an amendment Tuesday to craft a 7-1 map.

Democratic lawmakers also expressed their disapproval for the 6-2 map ultimately passed Wednesday.

Rep. LaKeySha Bosley, D-St. Louis, said lawmakers “tucked our tail between our legs” by voting against her proposal to increase minority and African American representation in Congressional District 1, which encompasses St. Louis.

Windham, D-Hillsdale, said during debate, “I didn’t hear anything about what it would take to get my vote on the bill or emergency clause,” and raised issues with 7-1 proposals that would have gerrymandered districts in Republicans’ favor.

Both efforts to pass a 7-1 map Tuesday failed — one on procedural grounds while another was voted down.

The Missouri Independent’s Jason Hancock contributed to this story by Tessa Weinberg, published via a Creative Commons license.

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