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Redistricting Rumble: Senate holds marathon debate on congressional maps

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Senate’s anticipated contentious debate on congressional redistricting is underway — and in the midst of a long week. 

HB 2117, which was amended during a Senate hearing in late January to include an emergency clause, was brought to the floor shortly after 5 p.m., on Monday. The Senate did not adjourn until about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday. 

The Senate is scheduled to convene Friday and Saturday.

Supporters of the proposed map say it favors Republicans with six of Missouri’s eight congressional seats. But conservative detractors accuse it of being a “Biden/Pelosi map” and are holding out for a 7-1 version

Republican Sen. Mike Cierpiot pushed back on the “Biden/Pelosi map” narrative, noting House Democrats had rejected that proposal. He also said Republicans should be “careful” with drawing a 7-1 map that could be detrimental to the GOP in the future. 

Cierpiot said “most importantly,” senators should draw a “sustainable” map. 

It’s important to note: It’s not just conservative senators who have filibustered. Democrats, too, are unhappy with how CD 1 is drawn and held the floor for much of early Tuesday morning.

So what’s happening now? 

The Senate adjourned Saturday evening and will reconvene on Tuesday. 

The Senate gaveled in for a rare Saturday session shortly before 11 a.m. as the congressional redistricting debate continues. Multiple senators traveled to St. Charles for the statewide Lincoln Days Friday night before heading back to Jefferson City.

Four U.S. Senate candidates who participated in a forum Saturday — Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, Congressman Billy Long, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, and attorney Mark McCloskey — all said they would support a 7-1 map.

Tumultuous Thursday

What an interesting morning as the Senate kicked off session Thursday. But the journals from Monday and Wednesday were finally approved.

Sen. Mike Moon briefly took the floor to say he had been approached by a senator to ask him to change. He asked what rules he’s violated. He’s wearing overalls with his jacket and tie.

Sen. Denny Hoskins held the floor for a bit. He said it “couldn’t be a bigger lie” that the women of the Senate were not able to speak in caucus or on the floor. And Sen. Mike Cierpiot introduced former Sen. Jim Lembke, who does work with the Conservative Caucus and was sitting in the fourth-floor gallery, in a pretty sarcastic manner.

The women of the Senate took over

Led by Sen. Elaine Gannon — and with Sen. Holly Thompson Rehder presiding from the dais for much of it — most of the 11 women of the Senate took for the floor for some time during Wednesday afternoon’s filibuster to decry the lack of decorum in the upper chamber and urge their colleagues to move forward on other business.

Gannon and Thompson Rehder, both Republicans, chastised their Republican colleagues who have called into question other Republicans’ pro-life or conservative bona fides just because they supported a 6-2 map.

Democratic Sens. Lauren Arthur, Karla May, Jill Schupp, and Barbara Washington joined in on the round-robin discussion, praising the relationships made between the women.

Senate women refuse to let voices go unheard amid redistricting debate

The Senate came back in Wednesday at noon with Sen. Bob Onder leading a filibuster during the reading of the journal. There was work on a compromise behind the scenes, but no map saw floor action during the day Wednesday. The Senate adjourned at about 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin, who spent much of Wednesday working behind the scenes on a map, told us after adjournment:

“The Senate is working to address each senator’s concerns on the possible map. I feel encouraged by the leadership I’ve seen today from all senators and am hopeful we will soon see a compromise that strengthens our conservative state. Everyone understands we need to draw our own districts and not abdicate that to the courts.”

31-hour filibuster ends 

Debate on the map had been ongoing for about 31 hours before it halted.

Sen. Denny Hoskins talks during a congressional redistricting debate. (SENATE COMMUNICATIONS)

At 12:20 a.m., Wednesday, the Senate stood adjourned. At this time, there was a lack of action toward compromise on the maps.

The debate began around 5:15 p.m. Monday.

Rowden’s 6-2 map moot 

Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden proposed a version he said is a compromise and will “bridge the gap.” He said it’s a strong 6-2 map that will make CD 2 four points stronger for Republicans.

This version put all of Jefferson County in the 2nd district, all of Franklin County in the 3rd district, and most of Lincoln County in the 6th district. Vernon and Taney counties would be split. Boone County would also remain in one congressional district.

However, Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base would not be in the same congressional district under this version.

After several hours on the floor, Rowden requested a standing vote and his proposal survived 22-5 with Sens. Denny Hoskins, Bill Eigel, Bob Onder, Paul Wieland, and Rick Brattin the five against it.

However, Rowden’s proposal was an amendment to an amendment — and Sen. Steven Roberts quickly withdrew his underlying amendment.

This vote occurred at about the 24-hour mark in the debate.

Conservative 7-1 map defeated

An amendment from Sen. Bill Eigel, a Conservative Caucus member, would have redrawn the map to favor Republicans with seven districts.

It failed in an 8-24 vote Monday night. Aside from Eigel, only Sens. Rick Brattin, Eric Burlison, Denny Hoskins, Andrew Koenig, Mike Moon, Bob Onder, and Paul Wieland voted for it.

This story was originally published on Feb. 7 at 5:30 p.m.