The United States House of Representatives has had 435 members since 1911 or so. But the population has increased drastically since then, such that the average citizen is more under-represented now than at any point in US history.

Has an increase to the number of representatives ever been proposed? Why has such an action not been taken?

  • 2
    Because they'd have to enlarge the Capitol building to hold them all?
    – jamesqf
    Aug 30, 2017 at 5:09
  • 4
    @jamesqf - Because no one, ever, said "Gee, the people we send to Congress are so awesome we should send even more!" Aug 30, 2017 at 16:45
  • 2
    @PoloHoleSet: That too!
    – jamesqf
    Aug 31, 2017 at 17:48

2 Answers 2


The United States has had a constant 435 members in the House of Representatives since the Reapportionment Act of 1929. The Act still allows for the expansion of membership to occur when new states join the Union, but froze the existing number at 435, likely for political reasons. After failing to reapportion seats in 1921 in an effort to avoid losing the strength in their two house majority, the Republican led Congress (and Presidency) passed the Act to ensure their Congressional power would remain intact for the foreseeable future.



  • 1
    @Brendan As an example, my state (NY) just got reapportioned this election cycle. This was based on the change in population measured in the 2010 census. Dec 15, 2012 at 22:29

Analysing the number of representatives in various countries, that number is in no direct proportion to the countries' population. In Poland we have the 460 representatives in lower chamber and 100 in higher chamber, with the population of 40M.

The number of representatives is more the compromise between the possibility to represent various political movements and the effectiveness. With 40 representatives it would be hard to represent all big political movements with proper proportions, but imagine 10.000 representatives! The people should know their representatives, and with too much number of them it would be impossible to know even a procent of them. And the work of parliament would be paralised, if each of this 10.000 would like to take a speech.

  • 5
    There is a rule of thumb for assembly size - the number of seats in the larger house of the assembly is usually around the cube root of the population. That would give 678 congresscritters in the USA. It was obtained by simple curve-fitting and generally works out reasonably well. Very large countries (ie India) don't generally have thousand-plus member chambers, but it works out pretty well for most of the world. Jan 12, 2013 at 17:54
  • 1
    @RichardGadsden I feel any 'rule of thumb' guide that gave a representives number and had the States' extreme two party system fit on the curve would need looking at again.
    – Jontia
    Oct 6, 2019 at 15:12
  • With 40 representatives it would be hard to represent all big political movements with proper proportions — I'm not convinced this is a reason at all, considering that most PR systems have a threshold for getting in, and the American system doesn't remotely attempt to be proportional.
    – gerrit
    Oct 7, 2019 at 7:51

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