The Pennsylvania House State Government Committee on has approved legislation as placeholders for a new congressional district map; a move Republicans contend is necessary for expediency.

Democrats on the committee said the bills were a waste of time because the process to rework the congressional map hasn’t involved negotiations with Gov. Tom Wolf, who holds veto power over any map approved by the General Assembly.

Committee Chair Seth Grove, R-York, cited a January deadline set by Wolf’s administration as the need for the legislative vehicles for the pending map, House Bills 1536 and 2147, which establishes the Congressional Redistricting Act of 2021.

An amendment to the bill filled in the framework without including the actual district map.

“This amendment sets in precedent boiler plate language that we use for congressional redistricting without the districts built into it,” Grove said Monday. “One thing we did learn from the 2018, we’ll call it a saga with the Supreme Court, is they gave us a finite amount of time to respond with maps. So we want to make sure we have vehicles in place to timely respond to any issues the governor has or Supreme Court has if this does in fact go to the courts.

“Ultimately I think we can get to a negotiated product. Obviously, the governor has a duty to weigh in on these. We released a preliminary map, and I look forward to the governor releasing a preliminary map and us sitting down and having further discussions on this.

“The governor did set an artificial timeline, end of January, to have maps done, by the Department of State,” Grove said. “We need to keep trains running to make sure we meet those timelines.”

Committee Minority Chairman Scott Conklin, D-Centre, balked at approving legislation that did not include an actual map and urged the committee to negotiate with the governor.

“For transparency reasons, I cannot support a bill that does not have a map attached to it,” he said. “We can’t negotiate by passing a blank map.”

The committee ultimately approved the bills and amendment on a party line vote, 14-10.

“The vote today propels the conversation forward as we work toward a finalized map to be put into place for the next 10 years,” Grove said. “It is paramount we listen to feedback from residents. The final congressional map will determine who Pennsylvanians will be represented by in Washington, D.C. for years to come.”

States redraw state and federal legislative maps every decade using updated census data to ensure fair representation, though the process is contentious and often rife with gerrymandering aimed at giving an advantage to one political party or the other.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2018 rejected a map approved in 2011 by the Republican-controlled General Assembly and executive branch for leaning in favor of Republicans. Lawmakers vowed a more transparent process this time around, though any map passed by the General Assembly needs Wolf’s approval.

Census data shows Pennsylvania’s population of 12.8 million grew slower than other states at about 2.4% over the past decade, resulting in a reduction of congressional delegates from 18 to 17. The current delegation is split 9-9 between Democrats and Republicans.

The House State Government Committee last week announced the selection of a citizen drawn map as a starting point for the redistricting process, though the Senate State Government Committee is reportedly working on a different map.