Texas Republicans Advance New Congressional Map That Bolsters GOP Power

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Reporter
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
October 19, 2021 Updated: October 19, 2021

Texas Republicans have advanced new maps for political districts that could bolster the GOP’s dominance and reduce the number of competitive districts statewide.

The maps, which incorporate the two additional seats gained by the House, were approved late on Monday night. It followed criticism from Democrats that the redrawn maps are discriminatory and reduce minority opportunity districts, although Republican state Rep. Todd Hunter has defended the changes and said they comply with the law.

A negotiated final version of the congressional map was signed off by both the Senate and House on Monday, and it now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk for his signature. The map was approved by the Senate on a 18–13 vote, followed by the House with an 84–59 vote.

Abbott, a Republican, is expected to sign the maps into law. The Epoch Times has contacted his office for comment.

The redrawn congressional districts would make it easier for many incumbents to hold their seats, but critics say they also threaten black and Hispanic communities’ political influence, even as those voters drive Texas’s growth. The new lines, the product of a once-in-a-decade redistricting process, create two new districts and make several less competitive for Republican lawmakers.

Texas was the only state to gain two congressional seats following the 2020 census, which showed that people of color accounted for more than 9 of 10 new residents in Texas.

“Race is clearly the factor here,” Democratic state Rep. Rafael Anchia said of how the maps were drawn. “Not partisanship, but rather race.”

Republicans who control both chambers of the legislature have nearly complete control of the mapmaking process.

Republican state Sen. Joan Huffman, who authored the maps and leads the Senate Redistricting Committee, has told lawmakers they were “drawn blind to race.” She said her legal team ensured the proposal followed the Voting Rights Act.

Most states have had to delay their redistricting efforts because of the U.S. Census Bureau’s pandemic-related challenges. The Bureau’s 2020 census data, which was officially released on Aug. 12, showed overall population growth, allowing some states to add congressional seats.

The redistricting process centers on how the districts of each state’s representatives—state legislators, members of Congress, and others—are drawn. Redistricting has become increasingly politicized, especially every 10 years when the Census Bureau releases its data from the national census.

Masooma Haq and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.