WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Iowa’s Democratic Congressional delegation, spearheaded by U.S. Representative Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), successfully amended the For The People Act (H.R. 1) to include a provision to preserve Iowa’s current system of nonpartisan redistricting.
The For The People Act, which is expected to pass the House tomorrow, included language requiring states to establish independent commissions to draw Congressional districts to prevent gerrymandering. The U.S. House of Representatives today unanimously voted to approve the amendment to exempt Iowa from this requirement and allow the state to continue to use its current system. If Iowa were to change its nonpartisan system, it would be subject to H.R. 1’s redistricting reforms.
“I will always step up for Iowa and our traditions,” said Rep. Finkenauer, who wrote the amendment. “Republicans and Democrats have disagreed on a lot, but we have always come together on our system for drawing fair districts. In Iowa, we make sure our leaders are accountable to the people who elected them – and that’s something always worth fighting for.”
Finkenauer worked tirelessly over several days to ensure the matter was addressed. The delegation succeeded in getting the amendment included in a larger amendment which was agreed to by voice vote on Thursday.
“Iowa proudly serves as a model for other states in preventing gerrymandering through our non-partisan agency to draw districts. Having spent a decade streamlining burdensome regulations at the State of Iowa, I promised Iowans I wouldn’t support duplicative or onerous policies,” said Rep. Axne. “It is unnecessary to force the state to create a commission when we already have a fair, nonpartisan approach to redistricting in Iowa. I’m proud to have worked with Reps. Finkenauer and Loebsack to ensure Iowa can continue to use our state system that has worked for decades.”
For many years, Iowa’s redistricting process has been held up as a model for the nation. Taking it out of the hands of partisan politicians and drawing the lines based on population and other, non-partisan criteria has worked well for our state and this amendment will allow Iowa’s model to continue. The old saying, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, seems very appropriate to this amendment. Why mess with a system that works for Iowans and takes politics out of the equation,” said Rep. Loebsack.
Iowa’s unique system is consistently used by fair redistricting and good government groups as a model of what the process should look like. Since 1980, the redistricting plan is drafted by the Legislative Services Agency (LSA), a nonpartisan research agency, following specific constitutional and statutory guidelines. LSA turns to an independent, bipartisan commission when statute does not provide a definitive answer and the commission also arranges hearings for public input across the state. The final plan is then voted on by the state legislature, part of the process that H.R. 1 would have changed absent the amendment.
The amendment was endorsed by Common Cause, a leading, nationally respected watchdog for fair districts.