Legislation Calls on House to Remove Partisan Gerrymandering from Congressional Redistricting Process
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressmen Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-08) and Alan Lowenthal (D-CA-47) introduced a House of Representatives resolution Wednesday calling on the House of Representatives to commit to the removal of political gerrymandering from congressional redistricting and to improve public confidence in our electoral process. This is Fitzpatrick’s second legislative action regarding gerrymandering: on his first day in office, he introduced the CLEAN Act [H.R. 145] which would end partisan redistricting by establishing independent, non-partisan commissions.
“Partisan gerrymandering has exacerbated electoral complacency that causes lawmakers to focus on accumulating power rather than serving constituents, and contributed to the growing divide of partisanship that grinds the gears of government to a halt,” said Fitzpatrick, a former FBI anti-corruption special agent. “The American people need fewer politicians and more independent voices focused on serving. Redistricting reform is a crucial, bipartisan step to ensuring our government remains one of, by and for the people – not just political elites.”
The Fitzpatrick-Lowenthal resolution points out that gerrymandering leads to decreased electoral competition, diminishment of representation, a decrease in the faith and trust of Americans in congressional election, and is generally harmful to our democracy. The resolution states “it is the sense of the House of Representatives that congressional redistricting should be reformed to remove political gerrymandering.” Under the Constitution - and affirmed by the Supreme Court - Congress has the authority to regulate elections and redistricting.
Currently, congressional districts are too often subject to partisan politics, drawn behind closed doors to protect incumbent seats by whatever party holds a statewide majority. This results in “Gerrymandering” - where districts are drawn in ridiculous shapes and cover vast areas to obtain a desired combination of voters to ensure a certain party's candidates have the electoral advantage. While some states like California and Ohio have made great strides to reduce gerrymandering through independent redistricting commissions, there is no national standard on the process for creating Congressional districts.
“The political gerrymandering of our Congressional districts—which attacks at the bedrock right of every American to fair representation—has seriously undermined the public’s trust in our democratic system. It is time to get the back room out of the ballot box.” said Lowenthal who led the charge on redistricting reform while in the California State Legislature, eventually leading to the citizens' referendum that created an independent redistricting commission. “Every citizen in every state deserves to have the same ability as citizens in states like Californian now have to draw their congressional district boundaries without the influence and gamesmanship of politics.”
Fitzpatrick has made government reform the cornerstone of his first 100 days in Congress. Immediately after being sworn in, he introduced a sweeping reform package which included:
- Term Limits for Members of Congress (Constitutional amdt.)
- Limits members of the House of Representatives and Senate to 12 years of service total
- No Budget, No Pay (Constitutional amdt.)
- Prevents members of Congress from being paid unless a budget is passed. Goes further than previous iterations of No Budget, No Pay by docking pay for time without a budget as opposed to simply putting member salaries in escrow until end of term.
- Balanced Budget Amendment (Constitutional amdt.)
- Requires Congress to adopt a budget that balances like most states, including Pennsylvania, and municipalities
- Citizen Legislature Anti-Corruption Reform (CLEAN) Act (H.R 145)
- Ends Congressional “pensions for life” and directs members toward standard 401K retirement savings accounts
- Requires Congress to act on single-issue legislation
- Codifies that all laws passed by Congress must apply to its members
- Reforms the broken “Gerrymandering” process by moving all redistricting to independent, non-partisan commissions
- Allows access to political party primaries for Independents or non-affiliated voters