Blue Dog Coalition Endorses Legislation to Stop Gerrymandering

Jul 20, 2017
Press Release

The fiscally-responsible Blue Dog Coalition has endorsed two pieces of legislation authored by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) in an effort to stop gerrymandering and to reveal the secret congressional redistricting process to all Americans. This has been a longstanding priority of the Blue Dogs during times of both Democratic and Republican majorities in Congress.

According to the Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voting Index, our country has seen a 56 percent decline in competitive congressional districts over the past 10 years. Today, there are only 72 districts—less than one-sixth of the U.S. House of Representatives—that are considered to be “swing seats.”

Named after former Congressman John Tanner, a founding member of the Blue Dog Coalition who championed this legislation for many years leading up to his retirement in 2010, the John Tanner Fairness in Redistricting Act removes politics and partisanship from the congressional redistricting process. Under the bill, each state would be required to establish an independent, bipartisan redistricting commission to redraw congressional district lines once every 10 years that reflect contiguous communities. These communities would replace carved-out, gerrymandered districts that protect extreme political partisans.

The Redistricting Transparency Act of 2017 would require states to publicize redistricting information online, including the data used in the process, details of the process, proposed maps and public hearing dates. It also would require that the public be allowed to comment before maps receive final approval.

“We’ve already seen during this Congress that without bipartisanship, you can’t move this country forward on important issues,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Communications. “This isn’t about power for one party over the other; it’s about ensuring that the American people are accurately represented. As a result of gerrymandering, too many politicians are beholden to their political party over the interests of their constituents. These gerrymandered districts have resulted in representatives from both extremes of the political spectrum getting elected to Congress who refuse to work with the other side for the good of the country.”

“The American people want to see things get done in Congress, plain and simple,” said Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Administration. “By playing partisan politics with our district lines, we are making it harder and harder to elect those representatives who will work together to get things done and make a difference. Gerrymandering congressional districts is not good governance. Our districts should reflect the desires of the American people, not the desires of our political parties.”

“Gerrymandering is a dirty secret no one wants you to know about. Our democracy suffers when redistricting continues to be about protecting powerful incumbents, favoring a particular political party and keeping the public in the dark,” said Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN). “Let’s restore trust in our system and end a shady, secretive process.”