Chapter 1 - Chapter 1 The Significance of the 2003...

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Chapter 1 The Significance of the 2003 Congressional Redistricting in Texas The redistricting was one of the most extraordinary political events of the past 50 years, the culmination of a three year effort to increase the Republican majority in the US House of Representatives The significance of the outcome lay not only in its effect on the relative strength of political parties in Texas or the US Congress, but also in the precedent it set for political and redistricting trends nationwide Tales of Extraordinary Institutional and Personal Challenge To prevent enactment of a Republican plan for partisan redistricting, 51 Democrats left in secret in May to break quorum, and remained gone until it became impossible for Republicans to pass the bill in regular session – Rick Perry called a special session at the end of July, in which 11 democrats fled to New Mexico Perry eventually called 3 special sessions before a quorum could be restored and a redistricting plan enacted People from both parties were confronted with personal dilemmas that made the period the most difficult of their political lives The Importance of the 2003 Redistricting to the Preservation of the Republican Majority in Congress In 2003 there were 229 Republicans, 204 Democrats, and 1 independent in the US House Democrats hoped that by winning as few as 13 congressional races from Republicans in 2004, they could achieve a voting majority in the House – the 2003 Texas redistricting killed any hope of that happening because it put 7 Democratic seats in jeopardy Redistricting in TX resulted in a net gain of 12 seats for republicans (6 seats changed from Democratic to Republican control) Because of Republican gains through TX redistricting, the Democrats, although gaining 4 congressional seats elsewhere in the nation in 2004, ended up with 2 fewer seats in congress This new voting margin (231-202 – with one independent and one vacancy) would have powerful implications on particular pieces of legislation or policy issues o Before the TX redistricting, close votes decided the fate of Medicare (216-215) Head Start Program (217-216) DC School Vouchers (209-208) Bush’s $726 billion tax cut plan o The republican leadership had a cushion of 11 or 12 additional votes, incase
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