JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Senators are still trying to find an answer on how to redraw Missouri’s congressional map after hours and days of debate and filibustering.
Shortly after midnight Wednesday morning, the Senate adjourned after 31 hours of filibustering. Twelve hours later, they were set to be back in the chamber for another day of trying to figure out how the draw eight congressional districts, as more Senate hearings were canceled Wednesday.
Once members were back in session, just after noon, the filibustering started by members in the Conservative Caucus.
“We have known for a decade, that this day when it’s time to draw a congressional district map, would be here,” Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, said.
While in the middle of reading the journal from the previous day, Onder filed an amendment and an amendment to the amendment for the journal. Then, he questioned Senate leadership on asking if they would call the previous question on their Republican colleagues.
“You would never support moving the previous questions against members of your own caucus,” Onder asked Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia.
“I’m not sure if anything is off the table,” Rowden responded.
About halfway through the afternoon, a handful of the lady senators stood up and took the floor.
“I think it’s time we the women of the Senate say what we want to say,” Sen. Elanie Gannon, R- said. “We feel we are just as important members of the caucus, and we want to be heard also.”
Women from both sides of the aisle, you who represent both urban and rural areas stood up and criticized their colleagues for filibustering for hours, not being respectful, and not working together to find a solution.
“This last week has been the most self-serving kind of work I’ve seen,” Sen. Karla May, D-St. Louis said.
Not long after the women were finished, Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, took the floor again, reading a book.
Conservative Caucus members still want a 7 Republican – 1 Democrat map, even though it failed Monday night by an 8-24 vote. Between Republican senators, tensions are still running high.
“It’s complete and total ridiculous nonsense when we’re working to get a solution,” Senate President Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, said to Onder Wednesday about quorum calls.
When a senator notices less than 18 members in the chamber, he or she can make a motion for a quorum call, bringing members back to the floor. During the 31-hour filibuster, Onder and other Conservative Caucus members made dozens of quorum calls.
“To continually call for quorums when people who are trying to solve the problem can’t be in the room with the person who is trying to solve them, that’s nonsense and it’s ridiculous,” Schatz said.
Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence, said Wednesday, the problems between the Republican party are fracturing the caucus.
“It’s never been more evident of the clash in the Republican party and it’s really the fight for the soul of the Republican party,” Rizzo said. “A lot of us just want to get rid of the name-calling, the bickering and do good work for the taxpayer.”
He said part of the issue in finding a solution, some members want to redraw their own districts.
“We have multiple members that are either running for Congress or thinking about it and they’re trying to draw their own lines,” Rizzo said. “They are trying to gerrymander the State of Missouri that doesn’t represent where the State of Missouri is.”
The current proposal is a 6 Republican – 2 Democrat map, the legislation that passed out of the House last month.
Around 7 a.m. Tuesday morning, Sen. Majority Leader Caleb Rowden filed his proposal of a stronger 6 Republican – 2 Democrat map, saying this will “bridge the gap.” His amendment 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, but split Vernon and Taney counties.
Around 5 p.m. Tuesday, the Senate voted on Rowden’s amendment adopting it with a 22-5 vote. However, Rowden’s amendment was an amendment to Sen. Steven Robert’s, D-St. Louis, amendment and as soon as it was voted on, Roberts quickly withdrew his amendment.
By midnight Wednesday morning, the Senate had adjourned.
“I believe that every person has a breaking point, whether they are on your side or against you or whatever that may be. And at that point, I felt their leadership felt it was time to take a collective breath,” Rizzo said.
Schatz said Senate staff and analysts behinds the scenes needed a break.
“It came to a point last night [Tuesday] like we have worn out our staff and our personal because we were trying to find a solution,” Schatz said.
Onder also asked Roberts, who filed an amendment saying he needed to protect the minority population in the 1st district (St. Louis area) if he would agree to a compromise.
“I think compromise is important and I think we get better legislation when we get more input from folks,” Roberts said.
After six hours of more filibustering Wednesday, the Senate adjourned around 6 p.m. with no action taken on a map, and no path to a solution.
“I would say, how long do you think this week is going to go,” Rizzo said.
A big point of contention is in the St. Louis area, St. Charles County, since the county is spilt, Onder and Eigel want it to be in the same district.
Rizzo said if the Senate doesn’t pass a map and send it to the governor for approval, it could be int the hands of the courts.
“That’s a real possibility if we punt our responsibilities like we’ve done multiple times in the past, there is a very good chance that judges draw these lines,” Rizzo said.
Another concern of his is the emergency clause, which would put the map into effect as soon as the governor signs it, instead of waiting until August, after the primaries. Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft has voiced his opinion multiple times about his support of a 7 Republican – 1 Democrat map.
“You’re giving the secretary of state a lot of authority on whether or not he wants to honor those, so an emergency clause is extremely important,” Rizzo said.
The House failed to pass an emergency clause, but Senate Majority Leadership has discussed they will try to pass one, which would send the map back over to the lower chamber.