Texas lawmakers pass new congressional maps bolstering GOP

Redistricting Texas

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Republicans approved redrawn U.S. House maps that favor incumbents and decrease political representation for growing minority communities, even as Latinos drive much of the growth in the nation’s largest red state.

The maps were approved late Monday night following outcry from Democrats over what they claimed was a rushed redistricting process crammed into a 30-day session, and one which gave little time for public input. They also denounced the reduction of minority opportunity districts -- Texas will now have seven House districts where Latino residents hold a majority, down from eight -- despite the state’s changing demographics.

“What we are doing in passing this congressional map is a disservice to the people of Texas,” Democratic state Rep. Rafael Anchia said to the chamber just before the final vote.

GOP Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign off on the changes.

Civil rights groups, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, sued before Republican lawmakers were even done Monday. The lawsuit alleges that Republican mapmakers diluted the political strength of minority voters by not drawing any new districts where Latino residents hold a majority, despite Latinos making up half of Texas’ 4 million new residents over the last decade.

Abbott’s office did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Republicans have said they followed the law in defending the maps, which protect their slipping grip on Texas by pulling more GOP-leaning voters into suburban districts where Democrats have made inroads in recent years.

Texas has been routinely dragged into court for decades over voting maps, and in 2017, a federal court found that a Republican-drawn map was drawn to intentionally discriminate against minority voters. But two years later, that same court said there was insufficient reason to take the extraordinary step of putting Texas back under federal supe