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RICHMOND (AP) -- House Speaker Bill Howell has derailed a surprise power play by Senate Republicans to redraw Virginia's 40 Senate districts to their advantage.

The Republican speaker ruled Tuesday that a Senate amendment making sweeping political changes was not germane to a House bill that made minor technical corrections to House districts.

The speaker's procedural ruling clears away a major standing provocation to the Senate's 20 Democrats. They had threatened to deny the Senate's 20 Republicans the 21st vote they would need to advance key legislation this year, including transportation funding and the state budget.

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