Could the US House of Representatives be close to expanding?
As the population continues to rise in the United States at a faster rate than ever before, questions about the amount of seats in the United States House of Representatives are being raised. The number is currently capped at 435 seats due to The Permanent Apportionment Act of 1929. The act was established by the founding fathers in order to regulate the amount of representatives that were allowed to be elected to the House.
Despite the population rise, some states are actually losing seats in the House. For example, Pennsylvania is expected to lose a house seat within the next few years. The problem isn’t that the population is decreasing in that particular state. In fact, the population has risen about 100,000 within the past decade and is the 5th largest state in the US. Many citizens see the declining number of seats as a loss of representation. Groups that are advocating to increase the number of representatives mostly consist of grassroot organizations. Multiple political reporters have endorsed the expansion of seats in the House from sources such as The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and The New Republic.
The US Constitution states that there should be no more than 1 representative per 30,000 people. According to the Pew Research Center, there is about one voting member per 747,000 people in the United States House of Representatives. Every 10 years, congressional seats have the ability to be adjusted based on the census. The reason it hasn’t yet, is due to the tension that currently exists between rural and urban populations. One side claims that the house seats should be raised in order to provide a wider range of representation for a larger population. However, the other argument against reapportionment is that rural areas would lose political power to more urbanized states. Those against the extension of the current US House of Representatives tend to be more on the conservative side. The divisive nature of modern day politics would make it much more difficult to get the US political parties to agree on a new number of representatives for the House. One reason for the disagreement also stems from the fact that the Democratic Party would benefit from more representation in the House more so than the Republican Party.
US territories such as Puerto Rico are aiming for statehood. Part of Puerto Rico’s plan is to gain a bigger voice in the US government. Republicans opposed to adding states want to avoid giving the Democratic Party more power in the House. In general, politicians and citizens would also be opposed to splitting up the current number of representatives in order to provide new states proper representation. Adding more representatives in the House could fix the conflict of splitting the current number of representatives and would be a good strategy for the Democratic Party to gain more political influence. Since the Democrats are currently in charge of the House, a statehood bill for territories such as Puerto Rico is more likely to pass. An opinion article written by Israel “Izzy” Klein from TheHill counters the previous argument through this statement, “Even in these divisive times, most Americans would likely agree: your level of representation should not depend on what state you happen to live in.” In the end, Democracy is the true center piece of the issue. Those in rural areas want to have their voices heard at an equal scale, while the growing population seem to prefer a system that provides more representation across the board. Currently, the United States is at one of the most divisive periods in modern history. Perhaps, mending this divide is a necessary step towards coming to a concrete decision on how the number of seats in the House should be handled in the future.