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Veto of Louisiana congressional map faces override try

March 28, 2022 GMT

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Republican-led Louisiana Legislature has voted to hold a rare “veto session” to consider overriding Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ veto of a new congressional district map.

Lawmakers will suspend the current legislative session at the Capitol in Baton Rouge to hold the veto session, which can last no more than five days.

Legislators passed the congressional plan during a February special session called to adjust government district lines to account for population shifts. The plan was approved over the objections of members of the Black Legislative Caucus, whose members said a state where almost a third of the population is Black should have two majority-Black district among the six Congressional districts.

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Edwards took that position as well and vetoed the plan earlier this month.

The plan passed the Senate with more than the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto. In the House, an override will require 70 votes. It got 62 in February. That was a reflection of strong Democratic opposition as well as some Republicans’ dissatisfaction on some narrower issues, such as the way parishes were divided.

Louisiana’s constitution calls for veto sessions to be held unless a majority of lawmakers in each chamber submit written ballots saying one is unnecessary, which is what usually happens. Last year, lawmakers called a veto session for the first time under the nearly 50-year-old state constitution. That session ended with the House failing to override Edwards’ vetoes of a bill that would have banned transgender girls from girls’ sports teams, and another that would have loosened the rules for carrying concealed handguns in Louisiana.

The remap plan was favored by the GOP leadership in the Senate and House. It also had some Democrats’ support in the House. It remained unclear whether enough of the 68 House Republicans would vote to override.

On Monday, tallies showed that only 32 of 105 House members said the veto session was unnecessary; only 12 of 39 Senators voted against a veto session.

Louisiana’s congressional seats are now held by five white Republicans and one Black Democrat. The Democrat was elected from a district that stretches from New Orleans, up the Mississippi River, to Baton Rouge.