The fate of a surprise state Senate redistricting plan that has Democrats in an uproar and threatening to derail a transportation funding fix lies, for the moment, in the hands of one man: House Speaker William J. Howell. All 100 delegates technically have a say on the bill when it comes up for a vote on the House floor, perhaps as early as Thursday. Senate Republicans muscled the measure through without notice Monday. But in his role as speaker, Howell could very well decide the matter on his own through a procedural move. He has given little indication of how he views the bill, and most House Republicans were tight-lipped Wednesday about the way forward. And when the matter appeared on the House calendar for the first time on Wednesday, it was quickly scuttled for the day — leading some to conclude that House Republicans were stalling.
“We’ve held it up . . . so obviously people are concerned about it,” said Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William), recalling how one of his hot-button bills was passed by last year “while they were trying to figure out ways to kill it.”
A Republican insider who discussed the redistricting plan with multiple legislators said Wednesday that GOP delegates are concerned that the Senate’s move will kill any prospects for cooperation on the governor’s transportation agenda.
“My sense is the House is getting squishy,” said the Republican, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid about internal party discussions. “These guys are freaking out. . . . I think they’d like to pass the hot potato.”
One Republican delegate who asked not to be identified said many were concerned about how their Senate GOP brethren had approved the new districts without public notice or hearings.
“I don’t think anybody signed up for this,” the delegate said. “There’s an awful lot of Republicans that are not at all happy with the situation.”