A bill that would redraw Pennsylvania's U.S. House Districts has been passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on a 136-61 vote. Supporters say it is a fair way to divvy up the state but opponents say it is gerrymandering at its worst.
"All along Democrats simply asked for participation and inclusion in a process to draw lines, which we hoped would invite inclusion of all constituencies as opposed to lines being drawn in a partisan attempt to consolidate power," said Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn.
Top Republicans drew the map behind closed doors and the unveiled it a week before it passed both the House and Senate. Governor Tom Corbett is expected to sign the bill.
Democrats say it will protect incumbents by making U.S. House districts less competitive and further contribute to gridlock in Congress. Republicans say it serves the will of voters by protecting incumbents already picked by voters, and they defended the map as meeting stringent legal and constitutional guidelines.
"These maps are a disgrace," said Burn. "Republicans have done their very best to rig the system, but Democrats still have several strong pick-up opportunities and we look forward to defeating Republicans in their own gerrymandered districts."
The map combines the districts of Democrats Jason Altmire and Mark Critz. Both men have indicated that they will run in the April primary. Jan. 24 is the first day for candidates to circulate nomination petitions.
One of the state's current 19 districts had to be eliminated due to the relatively slow growth of the state's population in the last 10 years documented by the 2010 census.