Missouri Senate passes 6-2 Republican majority congressional map, ending melodrama
St. Louis Public Radio | By Jason Rosenbaum,
Published May 12, 2022 at 10:58 PM CDT
In one of the more unprecedented moves in the Missouri Senate’s modern history, a group of senators used a rarely utilized parliamentary motion toend the state’s monthslong stalemate over congressional redistrictingand pass a likely 6-2 majority Republican map Thursday.
It was a rebuke to a group of Republican senators who spent months pushingfor a map more favorable to their party.
Shortly after the 22-11 vote, Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, moved to adjourn the Senate for the 2022 session, killing any legislation that had not yet passed that chamber. That includes additional limits on abortion, sports betting and any restrictions on transgender children playing sports.
For months, Missouri Republicans had been at loggerheads on how to redraw the state’s eight congressional districts. Most Republicans wanted a map with six Republican districts and two Democratic ones, while a group of GOP legislators who often clash with leadership wanted to go after Democratic U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s Kansas City district. Senators who are part of the Conservative Caucus spent countless hours speaking on the floor in support of a 7-1 map.
Late Thursday afternoon, senators used a procedural maneuver to pull from committee a map that the House had passed earlier this week. Sen. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, said it was needed to keep the courts from getting involved in the process.
“The House has more than met us halfway, and I think it’s time to put this constitutional obligation behind us so we can focus on the bills that we were sent here to pass,” Bernskoetter said.
The vote to send the map to Gov. Mike Parson came after several hours of debate.
The map would make the 2nd District, represented by Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, more Republican by adding some of Warren County and all of Franklin County. It also splits Boone County between the 3rd and 4th Districts, and divides Jefferson County between the 3rd and 8th Districts.
And Republican Rep. Dan Shaul’s legislation keeps Cleaver’s district stoutly Democratic. It also makes a number of alterations to U.S. Rep Cori Bush’s district, including taking portions of Richmond Heights and Maplewood, which voted for the St. Louis County Democrat by a wide margin in 2020, and placing them in Wagner’s district.
“Nobody’s walking away happy,” Rowden said of the map. “There’s no scenario where that wasn’t going to be the case.”
Shutting down the Conservative Caucus will almost certainly have ramifications beyond the 2022 session. The Senate has a long tradition of allowing debate for as long as members want, sometimes to kill the legislation and other times to force compromise.
“This is what makes Americans so cynical about our political process, when they have the sense that the fix is in,” said Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake Saint Louis.
Referring to the decision to pull the redistricting bill out of committee, Rowden said, “Clearly it was a conversation that was and is and always will be something all 34 of us are interested in.”