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Florida Legislature Approves DeSantis’ Congressional Map Amid Protests

U.S. News & World Report logo U.S. News & World Report 4/21/2022 Kaia Hubbard
Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg speaks out against Senate Bill 2-C: Establishing the Congressional Districts of the State in the Senate Wednesday, April 20, 2022 at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. The bill passed 24-15 and heads to the House for final passage. (AP Photo/Phil Sears) © (Phil Sears/AP) Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg speaks out against Senate Bill 2-C: Establishing the Congressional Districts of the State in the Senate Wednesday, April 20, 2022 at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. The bill passed 24-15 and heads to the House for final passage. (AP Photo/Phil Sears)

The Florida legislature approved a new congressional map submitted by the office of Gov. Ron DeSantis that is slated to give Republicans a significant advantage over Democrats in upcoming congressional elections and has been criticized for targeting Black representation in the state’s politics.

After about an hour of debate, Black lawmakers staged a sit-in Thursday on the House floor, revealing T-shirts with the phrase “Stop the Black Attack,” forcing an hour-long recess. Members returned to vote on the bill, passing it 68-38 amid continued protests.

Florida is gaining an additional district, rising to 28, due to a population gain on the federal census. At present, Republicans represent 16 of Florida’s 27 districts. The new map would likely afford Republicans four more seats.

“You all found a way to divide and carve a 50-50 state into a 20-to-8 partisan gerrymander – that’s what’s before us right now,” Democratic Rep. Andrew Learned said Thursday. “And you found a way to cut minority representation in half at the same time. The outcome speaks louder than your words. People should choose their representatives, not politicians choosing their voters. This flies in the face of the U.S. Constitution, the Florida Constitution and, more importantly, every democratic ideal that we hold dear.”

The special session comes after a prolonged redistricting process in the state. Earlier this year, Florida Senate Republicans advanced a map, which was later shot down by national Republicans. DeSantis later released his own map, which would afford Republicans additional seats and erase a Democratic district that runs from Jacksonville to Tallahassee of primarily Black voters. The Senate again proposed a map, appealing to some of the governor’s proposals, which DeSantis later vetoed, asking the legislature to return for a special session where they did not draw up their own map but instead used the governor’s.


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The state Senate approved the governor’s map along party lines on Wednesday, while lawmakers in opposition criticized the move from DeSantis, describing him as a “bully” intervening in the legislative process.

Lawmakers noted that the new map would significantly decrease Black representation in Congress.

“If you vote yes to this, you’re basically sending us back 20 years,” Democratic Rep. Jervonte Edmonds said during debate over the new map Thursday.

The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.

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