Blue Dogs Call on Congress to Reform Redistricting Process
WASHINGTON—Today, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision in the cases of Rucho v. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek, the Blue Dog Coalition endorsed two pieces of legislation authored by Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) to stop partisan gerrymandering and to expose 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 most recent Partisan Voting Index (PVI), only 20 percent of House districts are considered competitive—a 56 percent decline over the past 20 years. After the 2016 election, the number of swing seats dwindled to a record low of 72 out of 435. More than 58 percent of House districts are considered extremely partisan, contributing to the paralysis in Congress in recent years.
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, H.R. 130, John Tanner Fairness and Independence 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 districts would replace gerrymandered districts that protect partisan seats.
H.R. 131, Redistricting Transparency Act of 2019 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.
“The redistricting process should never be used as a lever of power for one party over the other—it should ensure the American people are accurately represented in Congress,” said Rep. Lou Correa (CA-46), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Communications. “As a result of partisan gerrymandering, we have made it harder to elect those representatives who will work together to get things done and make a difference. We’ve seen that nonpartisan independent commissions work in several states, including California, and we know it can work across the country.”
“Voters ought to be able to choose their elected officials—not the other way around,” Rep Jim Cooper (TN-05) said. “The redistricting process is rigged, and we need to fix it.”