The New York State Capitol, in Albany, is pictured on...

The New York State Capitol, in Albany, is pictured on Dec. 14, 2020. Credit: AP/Hans Pennink

ALBANY — A new map for New York’s 26 congressional districts proposed by a bipartisan panel could be killed by the Democratic-led State Legislature as soon as Monday, sources said Friday.

“They’re dead,” a source with knowledge of the discussions said, referring to the congressional maps unveiled by the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission just a week earlier.

The commission map made almost no changes to New York’s current congressional map, prompting criticism from some Democrats, in part because the state could play a key role in which party wins control of Congress this fall and shifting boundaries could make the difference in some swing districts.

The commission map must be voted on soon because the petition period for qualifying for the congressional ballot is set to begin Tuesday.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • A map unveiled by a bipartisan panel for New York’s 26 congressional districts could be killed by the Democratic-led State Legislature as soon as Monday, according to sources.
  • The Independent Redistricting Commission map made almost no changes to New York’s current congressional map, prompting criticism from some Democrats, in part because the state could play a key role in which party wins control of Congress this fall and shifting district boundaries could make the difference in some swing districts.
  • The panel’s map must be voted on soon because the petition period for qualifying for the congressional ballot is set to begin Tuesday.

Under one potential scenario, the commission map is defeated Monday and, at some point, lawmakers approve legislation to adjust petitioning details such as shortening the time frame and decreasing the number of signatures required. A new map — created by Democrats — could then be submitted within a matter of days for approval.

“I expect they’re going to vote down the IRC map Monday,” the source said. “And then we’ll have new maps. I wouldn’t expect dramatic changes, just modest adjustments.”

That could include “minor shifts” in the 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts on Long Island, which are held by Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport) and Rep.-elect Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), respectively, the source said.

Assembly Democrats held a lengthy private conference Friday to discuss the commission-drawn map. Among the issues presented was the need for a two-thirds vote (100 of 150 members) to accept it.

Democrats currently number 102 and it was apparent enough members opposed the commission map to fall short of 100 yes votes, sources said.

“I heard enough opposition to know we don’t have the votes,” a separate source said.

The source added that a new map would be expected to contain minor adjustments to the commission map “in a limited number of districts.”

Though votes from Republicans — who almost uniformly support the commission map — could push support for the commission map over the 100 threshold, history and practice in Albany show the majority party in the legislature almost never agrees to pass something if it needs minority support to succeed.

The state constitution and a recent order by New York’s highest court says any legislative changes to commission-drawn districts cannot affect more than 2% of the population in any district, many officials have noted. Republicans have vowed litigation if notable changes are made.

Other sources considered the situation “still fluid.”

This is just the latest development in the long-running fight over congressional districts in New York, as in other states.

In 2022, the state’s highest court agreed with a Republican lawsuit that said a map drawn by the State Legislature constituted an illegal gerrymander to help Democrats gain as many as six seats. The Court of Appeals ordered a “special master” to draw a new map, which helped Republicans gain seats and win narrow control of Congress.

Democrats currently hold 16 seats in New York; Republicans, 10.

A subsequent Democratic lawsuit resulted in the Court of Appeals ruling that the special master’s map was a short-term fix because of the looming election that ordered the commission to produce a new map for the legislature to consider.

Unveiled Feb. 15, the commission map gave Democrats a small boost in Syracuse, traded off Democrat and Republican territory in the Hudson Valley and Catskills and otherwise made few changes. Long Island’s four congressional districts wouldn’t change at all under the commission map.

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