Redistricting Reform Tracker (Congressional Bills)

May 15, 2017

While states are responsible for drawing congressional districts every ten years, Congress has the power under the Constitution’s Elections Clause (Art. I, sec. 4) to set rules governing how districts are drawn. It’s used this power in the past, for example, to mandate that states use single-member districts.

Most current efforts to reform congressional redistricting are taking place in the states.  But at least some members of Congress also are proposing federal reforms. Here’s a rundown of the redistricting reform bills that have been filed in Congress as of May 12, 2017.

For a summary of redistricting reform bills filed in state legislatures, please visit our State Redistricting Reform Tracker.

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H.R. 151: Requiring states that enact a mid-decade congressional redistricting plan to obtain a declaratory judgment that the plan does not deny or abridge the right to vote on account of race or color, or, alternatively, secure preclearance of the plan from the Department of Justice, pursuant to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

H.R. 711/H.R. 712: Prohibits states from conducting more than one congressional redistricting after a decennial census; requires states to use a commission to draw congressional districts; requires such commissions to hold their meetings in public and maintain a website with publicly accessible data and mapping tools; establishes criteria for states to follow when drawing districts; prohibits the use of voting histories or political party affiliations except when necessary to comply with the VRA.

H.R. 713: Requires states’ redistricting entities to follow certain transparency-enhancing procedures when drawing congressional maps; requires redistricting entities to maintain websites to display preliminary and final maps, census data, and public hearing notices; mandates opportunities for public input—both in-person and online—before and after maps are approved.

H.R. 1102: Requires states to use a twelve-member independent commission appointed by a nonpartisan agency through a randomized selection process to draw congressional districts; establishes criteria for drawing new maps; bars the commission from considering political party affiliations or voting histories when drawing new districts; requires commissions to hold at least three public hearings before and after developing and publishing preliminary maps.

H.R. 283: Expresses the sense of the U.S. House of Representatives that congressional redistricting should be reformed to remove political gerrymandering.