- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 24, 2003

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Republicans scored a victory yesterday when the state Senate gave final approval to a redistricting bill designed to boost Republican strength in the state’s U.S. House delegation.

The Senate approved the plan 18-12.

The House adopted a different map last week. The two chambers are expected to try to work out a compromise between the two maps in a conference committee.

The Senate vote marks the first time this year redistricting has been debated on the Senate floor, after several months of political warfare that included Democrats twice fleeing the state to torpedo special sessions.

Democrats fought the plan in often-tedious ways over two days. They gave lengthy speeches, peppered the map’s author with questions and tried parliamentary maneuvers to postpone a vote.

Republicans, who control the Texas House and Senate and hold every statewide elective office, attack as distorted the current districting, which gives Democrats a 17-15 advantage in the state’s U.S. House delegation. They estimate that the new map could give their party another three to five seats in the U.S. House.

Democrats have been fighting Republican redistricting efforts since this spring.

House Democrats fled to Oklahoma during the regular legislative session in May to block a quorum on the issue.

During a second special session, 11 Senate Democrats bolted to Albuquerque, N.M., for 45 days to thwart a quorum in their chamber. They returned last week after the end of the special session when one of their own broke ranks, saying he believed they should take their fight to the Senate floor.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry has said that if lawmakers did not get a redistricting map approved during this session, a fourth session would be needed.

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