AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Senate approved a GOP redistricting map Friday which alters El Paso’s two congressional districts.
The proposed map would shift Fort Bliss and the El Paso International Airport from Congressional District 16 to the 23rd Congressional District.
Both sites are currently represented by Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (D - El Paso), but the proposed map would have Congressman Tony Gonzales (R - San Antonio) represent the areas.
On Friday, the proposed congressional maps advanced to the state Senate Floor. Texas Sen. Cesar Blanco (D- El Paso) made his case to keep Fort Bliss represented by Escobar.
Blanco stated that Fort Bliss and El Paso are intertwined.
He also maintained that El Paso has heavily invested in Fort Bliss’ infrastructure. He noted that the proposed map would be trading a representative that lives 5 miles from Fort Bliss and the El Paso International Airport for a representative who lives 550 miles away.
Blanco added that El Paso and Fort Bliss “need to be kept together to ensure that we have cohesive and effective representation.... the future of El Paso is really tied to the future of Fort Bliss.”
However, Blanco’s amendment was voted down 18-13.
State Sen. Joan Huffman (R - Harris County), the sponsor of the GOP redistricting map known as SB6, stated that Fort Bliss would be represented by Gonzales, whose existing district already includes a portion of El Paso County, under the plan.
Huffman also contended that Gonzales would protect Fort Bliss’ interests because he is a veteran.
The congressional map now moves to the Texas House for approval before it can be signed by Gov. Greg Abbott. The map could potentially see changes there and must be approved before the end of the special legislative session that ends Oct. 19.
(The Texas Tribune contributed to this report.)