SPRINGFIELD — Democrats and Republicans alike agreed on Friday that drawing new legislative maps was a process driven by pure partisan politics — but they parted company on who was behind those political motives.
Each pointed squarely to the other side of the aisle.
That disagreement didn’t stop the Democrats from pushing through their revised legislative maps for the House and Senate late Friday — and the legislation to put those new, proposed boundaries into place.
Nor did it stop the Republicans from complaining that they, and the public, are being shut out of that process.
Over those GOP objections, those new maps and the legislation to implement the new boundaries for the General Assembly, the Illinois Supreme Court and the Cook County Board of Review passed through both chambers so they could be sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his signature.
The House passed the maps shortly before 10 p.m. on a straight, partisan 71 to 45 vote. The maps passed the state Senate in the same fashion earlier in the day.
“We are not going to let Republicans gridlock the process, solely for political gains,” state House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch said minutes before the House vote. “It’s not going to happen. Not here. Period.”
But Republicans argued to chart a different course on the maps.
“We need a new way people, we need a new way,” state Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, said on the House floor Friday afternoon.
Butler joined other House Republicans ahead of Friday’s votes on the various redistricting bills to say Democratic claims that GOP concerns about being packed into the same districts had been taken into account were a “complete fabrication.”
A spokeswoman for Welch said Republicans’ public statements about incumbent pairings show it is a “blatant mistruth” that Republicans “never had any issue with being drawn in the same district.”
“We alleviated those concerns to the best of our ability without disrupting other districts,” she said, adding that Republicans “don’t participate in conversations with Democrats” and “only go to the media to make their complaints.”
Republicans also took shots at Democrats for their handling of the process.
“Transparency is important in our government, and we have had ample time to alert the public about a variety of measures that will be undertaking today, and we have chosen, in every step of the process, to obfuscate the intentions to operate in secrecy and deprive the people of the state of Illinois, or in this case the people, the great people of Cook County, the opportunity to weigh in on to this subject and many more,” said state Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria.
During their debate on the bills, Republicans questioned their colleagues across the aisle, but some of their questions — like who drew the maps — were met by Democrats who at times answered, “I don’t know.”
Across the hall, the state Senate also passed legislative and Supreme Court redistricting maps Friday afternoon with Senate President Don Harmon saying his chamber “produced a fair map that represents the diversity of our state.”
But state Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, called the maps a “desperate attempt by those in power to hold on to power at all costs.”
“The people of Illinois deserve better than this,” Rezin said. “They deserve better than bad data, fake deadlines and sham hearings.”
Harmon said the real culprit behind the use of the American Community Survey data — rather than U.S. Census figures not yet available — in drawing the maps is former President Donald Trump, earning the Oak Park Democrat jeers from the Republican side of the aisle.
“We would not be here if Donald Trump’s Commerce Department had even a passing interest in an accurate and prompt census,” said Harmon.
With just four days left before the General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn, Democrats pushed to beat a separate June 30 deadline.
Had they failed to pass maps by then, an eight-person bipartisan panel would be created to take over the task.
When that panel inevitably deadlocked, a ninth member would be randomly chosen by the Illinois secretary of state — giving the Republicans a 50-50 chance of taking over the map-drawing tools.
And Democrats called the minority party out on that strategy — arguing that was the GOP’s true political motive.
State Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, said legislators took an oath of office to uphold the state constitution, and that “requires us to engage in this process, not some other idealized, independent ... process.”
House Majority Leader Greg Harris, D-Chicago, accused Republicans of trying to “take [the map-making] decision away from folks with a name out of a hat, in the hope that perhaps you could attain power again.”
State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, said Republicans were “trying to run [out] the clock and gamble on a random drawing.”
“Let’s not pretend that the folks on the other side of the aisle — if the roles were reversed —would be doing anything differently,” Cassidy said.
Despite the division, the three redistricting bills passed through the General Assembly along partisan lines. The approved bills now head to Pritzker.
A spokeswoman for the governor said he has “not yet looked at the final maps” and would need to do so before considering whether to sign them.