SENATE ADJOURNS SINE DIE

Republicans’ intransigence means court will redraw districts

Richmond, Va. — This afternoon, the Senate adjourned sine die. The tie vote took place along near-party lines, with one Republican joining all nineteen Senate Democrats; the lieutenant governor broke the tie. On the floor, Democrats cited Republicans’ failure to seriously address redistricting as a reason to adjourn. The move ended the special session; as a result, court-ordered changes to Virginia’s congressional districts will be made by the court itself.

Said Caucus Chair Senator A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico), “Republicans have refused to meet with Gov. McAuliffe to discuss a path forward on redistricting. They failed to bring any maps today for the public to review. And we are told that the House planned to adjourn until just one day before our court-ordered deadline. That timeframe would have left little time for senators or the governor to debate or review any map they did eventually approve, and it would potentially leave the public with no real chance to offer informed comments or recommend changes. Virginians expect and deserve a fair and open process. Since House Republicans will only offer a rushed partisan circus, it is unfortunately better that the court redraw the lines.”

Said Democratic Leader Senator Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax), “Republicans in the legislature made it clear from the start that they had no intention of working towards a solution to the court-ordered redistricting ahead of the September 1st deadline. The only bills put forward came from Democratic legislators, and attempts to open up the dialogue across the aisle were instantly shut down by Republican leadership.”

BACKGROUND

Senate Democrats have abundant evidence that Republicans have not taken the redistricting process seriously and will not deliver an adequate map within an acceptable time-frame:

  • Republicans have declined the governor’s standing invitation to meet and discuss a bipartisan path forward on redistricting.
  • LIS does not list any Republicans as having put forward a map for the public to review — even though they have had multiple weeks in which to prepare. (Senate Democrats have offered two: Sen. Chap Petersen’s (D - Fairfax) SB 5001 and Sen. Mamie Locke’s (D - Hampton) SB 5002.)
  • Senate Democrats were told that the House would adjourn until August 31st — one day before the General Assembly’s court-imposed redistricting deadline. Any map that emerged from the House on that day would have to be reviewed and approved by both the Senate and the governor in a matter of hours in order to take effect. Additionally, depending on House committees’ timeline, the public might easily be deprived of an opportunity to adequately review and recommend changes to that eventual map.

In years past, both chambers of the General Assembly have adjourned sine die without the consent of the other.

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