Should the Total Number of Members of the House of Representatives be Increased?

Every decade following the Census results, the House of Representatives are reapportioned to match population changes that occurred in the previous 10 years. States that gained residents could gain representatives, while states that had a population decrease could lose representatives. However, even if the total population of the country grows, the total number of Representatives is fixed at 435 under the Permanent Apportionment Act of 1929. However, after the 2020 Census, some strongly advocate for increasing that total number.

Those who argue that the total number of members of the House of Representatives should be increased contend that doing so would allow that body to be more representative of the will of the people. They claim that under the current system, a single representative is too inaccessible given the large number of constituents he or she needs to speak and vote on behalf of. They may also argue that the smallest states are currently over represented under the current system. Finally, they contend that increasing the size of the House of Representatives will increase the diversity of that body, as it will allow more voices to be heard.

Those who oppose increasing the total number of members of the House of Representatives argue that removing the cap on the House of Representatives size will lead to a drastic increase of members of Congress. They contend that this will lead to an increased burden on taxpayers who have to pay for more salaries, office spaces, and other costs. Additionally, they argue that senators are able to represent entire states, so therefore it is not unreasonable to have a representative speak for hundreds of thousands of constituents as many do in densely populated districts. Finally, they may also argue that keeping the House at a capped size prevents it from becoming a massive body that struggles to pass laws due to a large number of factions and interest groups.

So, what do you think? Should the Total Number of Members of the House of Representatives be Increased? Students can answer Yes, it should; No, it should not; or a nuanced answer in between!

Note: Ideal Think the Vote responses include the following:

-Address the question asked in a thoughtful and meaningful manner

-Use cited facts and constitutional arguments when appropriate to support their answers

-Are expressed in cohesive sentences and are free of distracting spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors

-They address counter-arguments and opposing concerns in a respectful manner

-They organize their answer in a manner that flows logically and reads clearly

Current Standings:
Yes: 50%
No: 50%
  • Nishita from Illinois

    The total number of members of the House of Representatives should be increased because one person cannot represent 740,000 people today. Since the 1970’s, the rapid growth of the population has thrown off the balance of the representatives and compromised the integrity and effectiveness of the House, as diverse views are unheard and unfairness only increases. In 1929, the cap that was placed on the number of seats at 435 has been standing for 90 years while the population more than tripled. And currently, with the pandemic we face, more voices demand to be heard than can be, drawing the attention to the situation that stands so stubbornly still. However, even as this pandemic may subside, the imbalance of representation only continues to increase unless the House expands. (https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/05/congress-needs-be-way-way-bigger/611068/) The American Academy of Arts and Sciences shows the effect on the electoral college is so drastic that a vote from a Wyoming resident weighs 3.7 times more heavily than the vote of a Californian. In order for voters to receive the proper representation and take active parts in the democratic process, the expansion of the House is required. Additionally, it would not only allow more interaction with local needs, but it would ease the tensions between the government and its constituents in smaller districts. (https://www.amacad.org/ourcommonpurpose/recommendation-1-1)

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    The total number of members of the House of Representatives should be increased because one person cannot represent 740,000 people today. Since the 19…

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  • James from Kentucky

    Fairly reallocating seats to the people is a vital key to democracy. However, since 1929, even though the population of the nation has increased from 122 million to 330 million today, the number of representatives has remained fixed at 435. As such, this has caused the ratio of representatives to constituents to go from 240 thousand people per representative to 760 thousand people per representative. This increase has caused representatives to have wider representation, meaning that they have more people they need to represent and appeal to, which could cause them to appeal only to a very broad range of people, rather than the individualized communities they were meant to represent. Additionally, this ratio is much bigger than the rest of the world, which largely has representation ratios ranging from 100,000 to 300,000 people per representative.
    There is also a political issue as well, as the way seats are reallocated benefits smaller states over bigger states. While it is important to make sure that everyone gets some representation in congress, the idea of 1 vote 1 man still makes sense. Due to the urbanization of the country, previous laws have unintentionally given unproportional power to the more rural, less populated states. In a fair democracy, everyone’s vote should count equally, and as such, people living in cities or bigger states should get the same right to representation as smaller states. This can be fixed by increasing the size of the House of Representatives to allow for greater representation. Rather than states each starting off with one representative and then competing for the rest, reapportionment could happen so that one takes the ratio of the state with the lowest population (which is Wyoming, with a ratio of around 500,000 people per representative), and apply that ratio to all states. This would expand the House by nearly 100 members, and would more adequately represent the US population.

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    Fairly reallocating seats to the people is a vital key to democracy. However, since 1929, even though the population of the nation has increased from …

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    • Morgan from Alabama

      Yes. Increase the number of members of the House of Representatives. Maximum number of representatives has been frozen since 1929 while the population has increased immensely. Voters in small states now have more power than voters in large states. Senators should have term limits. The USA population is over 328 million represented by 535 members of Congress. The UK population is less than 67 million represented by 650 members of Parliament. Much of the business of Congress can be performed remotely. Many speeches are made to empty chambers. Most activity is conducted by committees. Representatives should spend more time with the people they represent and less time with lobbyists.

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      Yes. Increase the number of members of the House of Representatives. Maximum number of representatives has been frozen since 1929 while the population…

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  • Sydney from Kentucky

    The total number of members in the House of Representatives should be increased. In order for the population to be fairly represented, the total number of members must be increased. The population of the country has grown significantly over the last 100 years. It does not make sense to keep the same number of representatives. Each representative currently has to represent a significantly larger group of people than when the last increase in membership happened. This makes the job of the representatives so much harder because they now have a harder time voter for the majority of their constituents since there are more constituents to account for now. Increasing the number of members would overall increase the quality of the representation of the population.

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    The total number of members in the House of Representatives should be increased. In order for the population to be fairly represented, the total numbe…

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  • Frieda from Illinois

    There should be an increase in the number of members in the house of representatives. I stand for this change not only because a larger number of representatives could make up for the increase in our population, but because more voices can be heard in the house. As our country continues to grow in size, so should the number of representatives. According to the official page for the House, (House.gov), “The number of voting representatives in the House is fixed by law at no more than 435, proportionally representing the population of the 50 states”. While this reflects the states it should also fluctuate based on the census which provides our country and its representatives with an accurate population number in which the amount of representatives could be chosen based on. The voices in America need to be heard and this can be done by adding more representatives to the house to represent all of America. This follows into my next point being that with the current standing of the members within the house there is not much variety in opinion which accurately reflects the opinions of many Americans. If we were to add more representatives, we could in turn increase the amount of diversity within the house and could ultimately encourage more diverse opinions within the house. Because the house works with the senate to make up congress, it would only make sense for the house to be composed of representatives with differing opinions of crucial issues and topics.

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    There should be an increase in the number of members in the house of representatives. I stand for this change not only because a larger number of repr…

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  • Artem from Illinois

    Today, a US House Representative represents on average more than 750,000 people. The Founding Fathers, who intended to pass an amendment fixing the ratio at 50,000 constituents per 1 representative, would be shocked at this number (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congressional_Apportionment_Amendment). Despite this, the number of Representatives has not changed for a century. During the time of the Reapportionment Act of 1929, a representative had on average 280,000 constituents. Now it is more than three times greater. To fix this, the US should implement the pattern followed by most developed nations – the cube root rule. This would set the total number of lawmakers to the cube root of the American population (currently, about 691). Since the US already has 100 senators, the number of Representatives in the House will be 591. It is a great compromise: this number manages to solve issues associated with underrepresentation while not having so many members that the House is unable to reach an agreement. This proposal would have many benefits. For one, it would make elections more competitive. Currently, only around 1/10th of the electoral districts are competitive enough to be considered a “toss up.” The rest can be easily predicted to vote either Democrat or Republican. With more districts, however, competitiveness would likely increase, driving the percentage of toss-up districts to 25% (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/11/09/opinion/expanded-house-representatives-size.html?mtrref=www.google.com&gwh=05DC8846BF9216AB14C47DF3A5C9E3A0&gwt=regi&assetType=REGIWALL). More competitive elections increase lawmakers’ accountability, as the chance of losing the reelection is greater. After highly contested races with uncertain outcomes, politicians are more responsive to voters, working harder to fulfill campaign promises (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0010414006297169). Increasing the number of members would also bring the House back to its intended purpose – with less people to reach, regular Americans representing local interests will be at least somewhat more willing and more able to run, lowering the bar of entry like the Framers wanted. Today, most Representatives are out-of-touch elites, lawyers, and businessmen (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/01/26/opinion/sunday/paths-to-congress.html). This is understandable – after all, if one wishes to reach an audience of 750,000, they need to have certain knowledge, resources, skills, and, most importantly, large amounts of money unavailable to common folk. As a result, lawmakers are oblivious to local interests. Studies have shown that the bigger the district a Representative represents, the more likely the Representative is to hold opinions at odds with the majority of their constituents (https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/S/bo3636044.html). This problem would be alleviated by having more lawmakers. The smaller amount of money required to run a campaign that needs to reach less people would also mean less potential for lobbying and corruption. Finally, this proposal would decrease discrepancies in representation that violate the “one-man-one-vote” principle. For instance, Montana and Wyoming each have one representative, but Montana’s population is nearly twice as large. Meanwhile, Rhode Island, which has roughly the same population as Montana, gets two seats. The electoral college, since it is based on the number of congressmen, further overrepresents some states and underrepresents others. With more lawmakers, the unfairness in this distribution would be reduced. Of course, despite the obvious benefits, there are some concerns that need to be addressed. First of all, some allege that the salaries and expenses of new representatives would be a burden to taxpayers. To prevent this, wages and benefits of representatives should be reduced. The current annual income of a representative is $174,000, which, when compared to the national median of $36,000, is too much (https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MEPAINUSA672N). With a reduction of salaries to at most $100,000-110,000, the increase in the House’s size should not be a burden to taxpayers. Also, many argue that increasing the number of members would create more interest groups and a more fragmented House. However, while that would be true for an excessively large number of lawmakers, there is no evidence that the democratic process would be significantly obstructed by having close to 600 members. In fact, the US will still retain its two-party system, so almost all of the newly elected representatives would be either Democrats or Republicans. It is unlikely that they will cause a division bigger than there already is. There are many countries with the number of lawmakers in the lower chamber equaling or even exceeding 591. India’s Lok Sabha has 543 members, Germany’s Bundestag has 709, and the British House of Commons has 650. Despite all of the above being multi-party federal states, having that many lawmakers does not seem to prevent these countries from functioning well. Why, then, would increasing the number of representatives in a mature two-party democracy cause chaos? The proposal to increase membership in the House of Representatives to 591 is not partisan – neither the Democrats nor the Republicans will be the sole beneficiaries. Instead, the ones who will gain the most from it would be the American people, as the plan transfers some of the power from the elite few to the middle class masses.

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    Today, a US House Representative represents on average more than 750,000 people. The Founding Fathers, who intended to pass an amendment fixing the ra…

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  • Rynia from Tennessee

    The population is constantly changes and the representatives should reflect that to equally represent the democracy.

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  • Ian from Tennessee

    Although the overall population has been decreasing, specifically in California by 0.46%, which would in theory cause a lower number of representatives, there is still not enough representations. If the nation was more accurately represented for the last 18 months, there would have potentially been less turmoil as people would have urgently reached out to their trusty representatives for change. These representatives would be more trustworthy because they would more likely represent their community, rather than a gerrymandered group that they used for power.

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    Although the overall population has been decreasing, specifically in California by 0.46%, which would in theory cause a lower number of representative…

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  • Kayvia from Tennessee

    With the population increasing, there should be a change in representatives so that everyone’s voice could be heard.

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  • Jeremy from Pennsylvania

    Its important that small towns, neighborhoods, and rural areas have their unique interests heard. The current House make-up is far to small to ensure that everyone is being listened to. In addition, increasing the number of seats would make it harder to gerrymander communities and allow for better and fairer representation.

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    Its important that small towns, neighborhoods, and rural areas have their unique interests heard. The current House make-up is far to small to ensure …

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  • Morgan from Alabama

    It would seem logical to increase the number of Representatives as the population of the US increases. Human nature is rarely logical. The higher the number in Congress, the higher the number of factions pulling legislation off the rails. Say we increase the House to 885. That is 400 extra bodies to accommodate and 400 extra points of view. Nothing would ever get done.

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    It would seem logical to increase the number of Representatives as the population of the US increases. Human nature is rarely logical. The higher the …

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  • Hannah from Montana

    Although I agree with the fact that everyone deserves a right to be represented I think it’s important to really look at the situation clearly. The system is working fine, why should we fix something that isn’t broken? Being from a smaller state, the increase of members would have no significance, we may gain a few members but ultimately get our power weakened. While a larger state, that already has a large number would increase to an even higher number. I think that this question is more of a political concern rather than a concern for the people of the states. Having this large of congress will also make it difficult for laws to pass, which is an essential part of congress .I think that there is a very strong argument for yes also, but ultimately I think that the reasons for no out way the reasons for adding representatives.

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    Although I agree with the fact that everyone deserves a right to be represented I think it’s important to really look at the situation clearly. The …

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  • Griffin from Kentucky

    No, the House of the Representatives should not receive an increase in members. First, by increasing the size of the House, Congress may be increasing the amount of chaos that could occur within the legislative process. By adding around another 100 representatives, this may make it harder to push bills onto the debate floor and pass bills up for debate. Second, by increasing the size of the House, Congress would be giving too much power to the hands of larger states. Currently, there is a nice balance between the number of conservatives and the number of liberals that adding more representatives might result in one party controlling the House for an overextended period of time. Finally, as the population increases overtime, changing the rule for which House seats are represented might gradually increase the size of the House overtime. This may result in an overabundance of House representatives in the future which would reinforce the first and second arguments.

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    No, the House of the Representatives should not receive an increase in members. First, by increasing the size of the House, Congress may be increasing…

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  • Braden from Kentucky

    The expansion of the house beyond 435 members will lead to nothing but confusion and less representation for smaller states. If more members are added they will not be given to the smaller states, rather; they will be proportioned to the larger states where more populous cities are. The state of Wyoming has 578,000 citizens and 1 representative in the house, meaning their representative only has to “represent” the views of 578,000 constituents, however; this number is much different when compared to larger states like California. California has 53 representatives to speak for 39.53 million people, which calculates to around 737,000 people per representative. If more representatives were added to Congress, it may only benefit larger states.

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    The expansion of the house beyond 435 members will lead to nothing but confusion and less representation for smaller states. If more members are added…

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  • Yejun from California

    No, the number of members in the House of Representatives should not be increased. It is reasonable that increasing the number would fix the smallest states that are overrepresented under the current system. Also, give more diversity of the body and allow more voices to be heard. However, there are reasons why it stayed the same. 435 representatives are already a great number. In government, having numerous voices being heard is important, but it is also important people come to an agreement and decide on one thing. It already takes a long time for a certain policy or law to be passed through the House of Representatives, if this number increases, it would take even longer. Also as it is mentioned by the opposition, it will lead to an increase in tax as there are more salaries, office spaces, and other costs. If we keep increasing the number starting now, we might need a new building or expand the current building to fit all representatives in the same room without them being clustered to each other. There are reasons why the Permanent Apportionment Act of 1929 was passed. Even the population is increasing, the number of representatives does not need to increase now. Therefore, the number of members in the House of Representatives should not be increased.

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    No, the number of members in the House of Representatives should not be increased. It is reasonable that increasing the number would fix the smallest …

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  • Dominic from California

    The number of representatives in the house of representatives is quite large. They are a quite diverse group of people coming together to run our country. Their size is immense compared to the size of the senate. With how big they are it is difficult sometimes to come to decisions or do day-to-day activities. Because of their size, it takes quite some time for things to finish things they are working on. If the size of the house of representatives were to increase it would become cumbersome and slow. Finishing day-to-day activities would take quite a bit more time to do. It may increase the representation of people but there is an extent to which the size is too much. The representation of one representative is big but nowhere near as big as a senator’s representation. The representatives are meant to represent a large group of people and adding a bunch of new people to the house would more accurately depict what the people want but the numbers would hardly change. With the new census, there are only fifty thousand more people per senator. That is not a very big difference from the 2010 census. Increasing the number of people in the house will only drain unnecessary money and slow congress down to a halt. The number of cons outweighs the number of pros.

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    The number of representatives in the house of representatives is quite large. They are a quite diverse group of people coming together to run our coun…

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  • Andrew from California

    Increasing the total number of the U.S. House of Representatives would do more harm than good. The amount of House of Representatives will specifically add to the electoral votes that each state receives, when, already, there are many states that are over represented. Wyoming, the smallest state with a population of 500,000, is required to have 1 House of Representative and 2 Senators. Because of this, they receive 3 electoral votes. This creates the people of Wyoming to be 3 times more powerful than a state like California when voting. This is because California has close to 40,000,000 people, and when doing the math, there is roughly 1 electoral vote per every 600,000 people, while in Wyoming they receive a vote per every ~200,000 people. Giving a state like Wyoming more House of Representatives would only increase the level of power they have over larger states with less representation. I believe that this would create too much of an unfair advantage in smaller states over the larger states. However, there is the possibility of adding Representatives to a state like California, however, due to their population, California already holds the most weight when voting in elections. Adding more Representatives to larger states would only decrease the overall power small states have, creating less they already have. Because of this, increasing the number of House of Representatives to either small or large states would be harmful. It would either give smaller states more unfair power when voting, or suppress their power so much that their votes would not even matter. Not to mention that increasing the number of Representatives would only create more money for tax payers, when, again, states like California already have a 7.25% income tax. Because of these reasons, I do not believe we should increase the number of the U.S. House of Representatives.

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    Increasing the total number of the U.S. House of Representatives would do more harm than good. The amount of House of Representatives will specificall…

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  • Camryn from Kentucky

    No, the number of the House of Representatives should not increase. If we allow it to increase past 435 representatives, there will no longer be a cap on the number of representatives in the House meaning this number could fluctuate each year. One of the main arguments for increasing the number of Representatives is that the population of each congressional district has drastically increased since the founding fathers were alive. While this is true, according to National Review, “In order to maintain the 1787 standard in a country of approximately 326 million, we’d have a house with 11,000 members. To match the 1911 standard, we’d need 1,600 representatives.” https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/11/expanding-house-adding-politicians-wont-fix-congress/
    Obviously, this is not realistic. With this many members, Congress would never be able to agree on anything. Not every member would get their chance to voice their opinion, meaning that their district’s voice would not be heard. Instead of actually representing their population, they would be more of a figurehead, unable to really accomplish anything or be taken seriously. Once again National Review emphasizes, “Congress stopped adding members because it recognized the body was already becoming too big to function efficiently. Further, each individual member already has little influence in a body of 435, a problem that expansion would exacerbate.”https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/11/expanding-house-adding-politicians-wont-fix-congress/
    Adding more representatives to Congress would only add to the chaos, confusion, and quarrelling. It would not allow for more of the population to be represented, because with so many representatives, the more populated states like New York and California would have much more power and influence. Smaller states would still only have 1 or 2 representatives while more urbanized states would only grow in power.

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    No, the number of the House of Representatives should not increase. If we allow it to increase past 435 representatives, there will no longer be a cap…

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  • Connor from Tennessee

    Removing the cap on members in the House will lead to an enormous increase in members, leading to many different factions of Representatives with dividing views that cause the House to lose efficiency and effectiveness.

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    Removing the cap on members in the House will lead to an enormous increase in members, leading to many different factions of Representatives with divi…

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