House Speaker William J. Howell intends to use a procedural move to kill the GOP’s surprise Senate redistricting plan Wednesday, according to several people familiar with his plans. Howell (R-Stafford) is expected to rule that the new Senate map radically altered the legislation to which it was attached, according to three legislators and a Capitol staffer who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly about private discussions involving the speaker. “There are no guarantees in this business, but the expectation is” that Howell will rule the measure not germane Wednesday, a lawmaker said.
Howell spokesman Matthew Moran said Tuesday night that he could not comment on whether the speaker was prepared to rule against the measure, which is slated to appear on the House calendar Wednesday. “The Speaker will rule on any questions regarding the legislation when they are raised on the floor,” Moran wrote in an e-mail.
As speaker, Howell can decide whether the redistricting plan is germane to the legislation to which it was attached. If he rules that it isn’t, he would kill the measure and rid the General Assembly of an issue that has inflamed partisan tensions and threatened to derail Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s bid for a standout legacy in his last year in office. The distraction that resulted from the redistricting bill has made some Democrats less inclined to vote for the Republican governor’s signature transportation funding plan.