Virginia Speaker of the House William J. Howell (R-Stafford) broke with his own party on Wednesday, using a procedural ruling to stop the Republican-sponsored redistricting plan.
The plan might have had a chance of passing the Virginia House if it made it to the floor for a vote, but Howell quashed the bill, clearing the way for the House to concentrate on Gov. Bob McDonnell's transportation plan, The Washington Post reported.
“I am committed to upholding the honor and traditions of both the office of Speaker, the institution as a whole and the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Howell said in a statement.
The Senate had made changes to the House measure, so it had to return to the House of Delegates for approval. Howell said the amended bill was “modified to stray dramatically, in my opinion, from the legislation’s original purpose of addressing relatively technical, minor administrative adjustments to certain districts,” he told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City County), said in a statement the Senate Republican Caucus "is deeply disappointed" by Howell's action.
The surprise bill was proposed by Virginia state senate Republicans on Jan. 21 -when Sen. Harry Marsh (D), a 79-year-old civil rights leader, traveled to Washington for President Barack Obama's inauguration. It was passed 20-19 by the Senate that day.