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Florida House OKs new DeSantis-backed congressional map SPLC calls 'discriminatory'

This map is expected to give Republicans more Florida seats than the maps previously approved by the House and Senate.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In a vote of 68 to 38, the GOP-majority Florida House gave the final signoff on a new congressional map likely to give Republicans more Florida seats.

But the vote did not come without pushback.

Politico Florida Bureau Chief Matt Dixon was the first to note a sit-in of sorts by Democratic representatives in protest of the map before them. Photos and videos on social media showed them gathering on the chamber floor holding signs, chanting and giving speeches during an "informal recess."

"Draw some constitutional maps. Those are our demands and we will not be moved," one representative could be heard saying. 

Rep. Dianne Hart was among those who went live from the chamber floor, essentially interviewing other representatives about Thursday's events. In the video, Hart called the situation at hand "insane" as she walked around the chamber floor adding, "We're here to stay."

Republican Rep. Spencer Roach commented on Twitter about the apparent protest, calling it an insurrection. 

"House Democrats are staging an insurrection on the House floor to obstruct the democratic process. Shameful," he wrote.

"As is obvious, we have members who've decided they wanted to hijack our process today. It is my belief and your belief that no member of this chamber has the opportunity to shut down our process, to shut down a job that the people of the public and the people of Florida have asked us to do. We will be concluding our business today," Speaker Chris Sprowls said as all members reconvened.

Amid Sprowls comments yelling and chanting could be heard echoing through the chamber. The final debate on the bill was yielded back and close on the bill was waived as the Florida House charged toward a vote on the bill. 

Cheers erupted in conflict with the "No's!" being yelled from the back of the chamber as the bill passed. 

Representatives on both sides of the aisle were in special session to sign off on the new congressional map that, if signed by Gov. DeSantis, would alter the districts of two Black U.S. House members  — Reps. Al Lawson and Sheila Cherfilus McCormick. 

In an email, the Southern Poverty Law Center warned the map would reduce the representation for communities of color because it contains fewer majority-minority districts than in maps proposed previously.

“Despite the growth of communities of color in Florida, DeSantis is proposing a map that reduces the number of seats containing a majority of voters of color in Congress," Jack Genberg, the Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund's senior staff attorney for voting rights, wrote in a statement. "Voters of color are going to be deprived of an equal opportunity when it comes to making their voices heard on issues as local as getting their roads repaired, or as national as healthcare policy. "

The SPLC called the map "discriminatory."

Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

Around Tampa Bay, at least two districts would be redrawn under the map the governor is expected to sign. It would expand District 12 and move some voters from District 13 in Pinellas County to District 14 in Hillsborough County.

This map is expected to give Republicans more Florida seats than the maps previously approved by the House and Senate during the regular legislative session.

The bill now head's to Gov. Ron DeSantis' desk for signature or veto.

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