The Republican-controlled legislature in Florida approved a new congressional map put forward by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office that eliminated two Black-held seats while boosting the prospects for Republicans seeking a House seat, according to CNN.
The House passed the DeSantis-drawn map along party lines on a 68-38 vote as Democrats in the chamber protested, chanting “what do we do when Black voters are under attack, stand up, fight back.”
The Senate passed the map on Wednesday, also on a party-line vote.
The map now heads to DeSantis’ desk where he is expected to sign it into law for the next decade.
DeSantis had rejected a map passed by the legislature earlier this year arguing that it was unconstitutional because that map would have preserved a Jacksonville-area district in which a Black candidate was likely to get elected.
The new map approved by the Legislature dismantles the North Florida seat now held by Rep. Al Lawson (D-Fla.), a Black Democrat. It splits Jacksonville, the city with the largest African American population in the state, into several Republican-leaning seats.
“Once again, DeSantis is showing Florida voters that he is governing the state as a dictator,” Lawson said Thursday in a statement, according to Politico . “DeSantis bullied the Florida Legislature into approving his Republican-leaning congressional map during special session. It is alarming that state legislators cannot fulfill their constitutional duties without political meddling.”
The map also shift Florida’s 10th Congressional District — an Orlando-area seat represented by Val Demings, a Black Democrat now running for US Senate — east toward Whiter communities, CNN noted.
Several Black members of the Florida House protested on Thursday during the debate, forcing an informal recess before Republican members then continued the process by ending debate and holding the vote during their protest.
“I am occupying the Florida House chamber floors to ensure that Black people will not be forgotten about. We are here to stay,” state Rep. Angie Nixon said from the floor during protest. “We are occupying the floor, we’re doing good trouble. Ron DeSantis is a bully, Ron DeSantis does not care about Black people.”
The new map will likely face an immediate court challenge from Democratic aligned groups since it violates state constitutional amendments governing redistricting, which says minority voting power cannot be reduced during the map-making process.