Incoming Blue Dog Leadership Calls for H.R. 1 to Include Coalition-Endorsed Redistricting Bill
WASHINGTON—Yesterday, incoming Blue Dog Co-Chairs—Reps. Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), Lou Correa (CA-46), and Rep.-elect Anthony Brindisi (NY-22)—sent a letter to House Speaker-Designate Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Leader-Designate Steny Hoyer, calling for H.R. 1 to include significant redistricting reform, a longtime priority of the Blue Dog Coalition. Specifically, incoming Blue Dog leadership called for H.R. 1 to include H.R. 712, John Tanner Fairness in Redistricting Act, a bill that was introduced by Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) and endorsed by the Blue Dog Coalition.
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.
“Partisan redistricting has made too many politicians beholden to their political party over the interests of the communities they represent,” said incoming Blue Dog Co-Chair for Communications Rep. Lou Correa (CA-46). “Redistricting shouldn’t be about power for one party over the other; it should ensure that the American people are accurately represented. We need to use this opportunity to restore the faith of the American people in our institutions and get politics out of the redistricting process before lines are redrawn in 2020. My own state, California, has a nonpartisan redistricting committee. It’s time the rest of the country does too.”
“House Democrats are newly empowered, and we should use our very first vote to clean up America’s rigged redistricting process,” said Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05). “Voters ought to be able to choose their elected officials—not the other way around.”
According to Cook Political Report, the number of competitive House districts has seen a 56 percent decline over the past 20 years. In 1997, Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voter Index (PVI) scored 164 districts between D+5 and R+5, more than a third of the House. After the 2016 election, there were only 72 House districts with a PVI score that ranged from D+5 to R+5, less than a sixth of the House.
Redistricting occurs every decade after the federal census is completed. State legislatures are scheduled to redraw state house and congressional lines again after the general election in 2020. Those lines will be in effect until 2032.
The letter was signed by the incoming Blue Dog Coalition Co-Chairs—Reps. Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), Lou Correa (CA-46), and Rep.-elect Anthony Brindisi (NY-22). The full letter can be found here and below.
Dear Speaker-Designate Pelosi & Leader-Designate Hoyer,
As the newly elected leadership of the Blue Dog Coalition for the 116th Congress, we write on behalf of the Coalition to strongly recommend that H.R. 1 contain significant redistricting reform provisions.
The Blue Dog Coalition has endorsed the John Tanner Fairness in Redistricting Act (H.R. 712), legislation introduced by Congressman Jim Cooper that continues to be a priority for our Coalition. Named for former Congressman John Tanner, a Member who championed the measure for many years before his retirement from the House in 2010, the John Tanner Fairness in Redistricting Act removes politics and partisanship from the congressional redistricting process. Under the bill, each state is required to establish an independent, bipartisan redistricting commission to redraw congressional district lines once every 10 years that reflect contiguous communities. These districts of contiguous communities would replace highly gerrymandered districts.
Today, many states are represented by Congressional delegations that do not reflect the ideological balance of those states. This is the direct result of politicians unfairly drawing maps with their reelections in mind, hand-picking their voters. Our new Democratic Majority must act and end partisan gerrymandering to preserve our democracy. As former Attorney General Eric Holder wrote, “Gerrymandering is destructive to the representative democracy that our founders envisioned.” It is the Coalition’s strong belief that we cannot meaningfully regain the trust of voters or the American people without tackling gerrymandering and its toxic effects on our democracy.
Our Coalition respectfully urges you to ensure redistricting reform is included in H.R. 1 as the package moves forward. We look forward to continue working with you to advance an agenda that is based on our shared values and guarantees results for the American people.