|8:15 PM EDT||
Michael C. Burgess M.D., R-TX 26th
Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight to recognize a member of the Texas House from my district and my hometown of Denton, Texas.
Representative Myra Crownover has written what I consider to be the most insightful remarks regarding the recent lack of a quorum in the Texas House. Her remarks were written and carried in the Denton Record-Chronicle last weekend. I ask Members to listen to Representative Crownover in her own words.
``I would like to take this opportunity to explain what is at the heart of the battle between Texas House Republicans and Democrats.
``Though Republicans and Democrats debate and disagree on a number of issues each and every session, none is as arduous or contention as redistricting. While most legislation concerns issues that cross party lines, such as children, health care or education, redistricting is simply about politics and elections. There is no bipartisan redistricting. There never has been, there never will be. It is the nature of the beast.
``Although the Legislature addressed congressional redistricting 2 years ago in the last legislative session, lawmakers could not agree on new lines, so a panel of three Federal judges did, and their map led to a 17-15 advantage for the Democrats. Rather than drawing a map that currently reflects the political landscape of Texas, the lines were tooled just enough to keep the map legal. There is no question that the current map meets the standards for redistricting spelled out in law.
``The argument for addressing the congressional maps this session rests in the fact that in the 2002 elections the GOP won every statewide race from the governor to the courts and took control over both houses of the State legislature for the first time since Reconstruction. Roughly 60 percent of the [Page: H4227]
State voted Republican during the last election cycle. The Legislature now has an obligation to pass a map that properly reflects the demographics and voting
patterns of Texas.
``As stated previously, redistricting is a painful process, but it is also necessary. For the party in the minority, it is a difficult but important debate. It has been for years. However, the minority this session chose to walk away from the debate and crossed a line that should never be crossed. The rules of the House relating to a quorum were created to maintain a balance, protecting both the majority and the minority parties. This rule has been abused and a harmful precedent has been set.
If 51 members dislike a piece of legislation, they may simply walk away. No debate. No vote. No representation.
``There will always be a majority and a minority. We will continue to redistrict State and congressional maps for decades to come. Such emotionally charged issues are simply part of the process, and because of this, rules and respect for the rules are required. Without them, the system breaks down. Not just for the 150 Members of the Texas House, but for every citizen of Texas.''
Mr. Speaker, I could not agree more.