‘We Can’t Agree’: Stalemate Continues on Pennsylvania’s New Congressional Map

Pennsylvania Sen. Kim Ward, of the 39th district, attends a hearing of the Pennsylvania State Senate Majority Policy Committee, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in Gettysburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

By The Keystone Staff

January 24, 2022

Democratic lawmakers rejected a Republican counteroffer on Sunday, according to Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward.

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s state Senate Majority Leader said Monday that a partisan stalemate remains unbroken on a new map of congressional district boundaries for the state, and she predicted that the state’s highest court will end up settling the matter.

Pennsylvania, like most other states, must redraw its congressional district boundaries based on Census data to account for a decade of demographic shifts in time for 2022’s elections. Pennsylvania is losing a house seat due to slow population growth, going from 18 congressional districts to 17. 

Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, (R-Westmoreland), told a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon that Senate Republicans have tried unsuccessfully thus far to broker an agreement between the Republican-controlled House, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, and Democratic lawmakers.

“It just comes down to we can’t agree, the governor’s going to veto anything that’s not what he produced and the courts will end up drawing maps,” Ward said.

State courts were involved in selecting or drawing Pennsylvania’s congressional map in 1992 and 2018.

As recently as Sunday night, Democratic lawmakers rejected a Republican counteroffer, Ward said.

A proposed redrawn Congressional map passed the state House two weeks ago and the Senate last week.

State Rep. Seth Grove (R-York) sponsored the proposal and according to the Associated Press called it “a historic departure from the way this body has operated in the past” because it was based on a submission from a volunteer map drawer outside state government.

He said the map would likely result in eight Democratic districts, eight Republican districts, and one toss-up, and praised his proposal as the result of public hearings around the state.

“Not everybody is happy with every single map,” Grove said during floor debate. “We’re a big state, we have a lot of communities of interest.”

When the map was initially proposed last month, Wolf expressed his dissatisfaction in a letter to Grove and other House leaders, accusing Republicans of partisan gerrymandering.

Monday was also the court-imposed deadline for parties — including Wolf, Republican lawmakers, and Democratic lawmakers — to submit proposed maps.

The Commonwealth Court issued the order earlier this month, acting on a request last month for it to get involved in the process. It set a Jan. 30 deadline to render its judgment on submitted proposals.

Wolf has already shared two redistricting map proposals — one drawn by him, the other based on submissions from more than 1,500 Pennsylvania citizens — as examples of new congressional district boundaries he said are free of gerrymandering, and in full accord with the Voting Rights Act and federal and state laws.  

Monday’s deadline is barely two weeks before the date — Feb. 15 — when candidates can start circulating petitions to get on primary election ballots. The primary election is May 17.

The redistricting of Pennsylvania’s legislative maps also seems destined to be settled in the courts.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.


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