Texas OKs Redistricting Plan

State lawmakers reached an agreement on a new congressional map designed to give Republicans more seats early Thursday after months of resistance from Democrats and some GOP infighting, lead negotiator Sen. Todd Staples said.

A tentative agreement between House and Senate negotiators was brokered Wednesday by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay during closed-door meetings, ending weeks of Republican squabbling over where to nab more seats.

Details of the redrawn congressional districts were not immediately available but Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Tom Craddick, all Republicans, were expected to discuss it at a news conference later in the day.

The agreement paves the way for a vote Friday in both chambers. Perry is expected to approve the bill once it passes.

The GOP, which controls the Texas House and Senate and holds every statewide elected office, pushed for a new map to increase the state's Republican presence in Washington — a goal that prompted Democrats to twice flee the state to prevent a vote.

After the Democrats' return, the GOP engaged in its own battle over redistricting, pitting oil interests against agricultural concerns in West Texas.

House Speaker Tom Craddick has been adamant about having a district that would be anchored in his hometown, the oil center of Midland.

But Republican Sen. Robert Duncan has put up fierce resistance, fearing his district of Lubbock — where farming dominates — would lose representation.

Both lawmakers were able to rally their colleagues in the House and Senate respectively to their cause, creating the deadlock.

DeLay has been leading the GOP effort to increase the number of Republicans in the state's Congressional delegation.

Democrats, who control the delegation 17-15, wanted to keep current district boundaries and boycotted the Texas Legislature twice this year to block a quorum and kill redistricting bills. House Democrats fled to Ardmore, Okla., in May and stayed away for four days to block redistricting in the regular legislative session.

Senate Democrats went to Albuquerque, N.M., for six weeks beginning in late July to shut down redistricting during a second special legislative session.

The Democrats returned when one of their own defected, giving Republicans the quorum they needed to do business.