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house Bill H.R. 7181

Should There Only Be 400 Representatives in the House Instead of 435?

Argument in favor

There’s no requirement that the House be 435 members. Reducing it to 400 members will make it more manageable, and will decrease the amount of money the federal government has to pay on House members’ salaries.

Tom's Opinion
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01/01/2019
Anything that has to do with reducing the the size of government I’m all in. Year after year Congress has proven to be ineffective, they no longer represent their constituents they represent special interests groups of the very powerful lobbyists in DC. Both Democratic’s and Republican’s are guilty, let’s have term limits and clean house.
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JDMA's Opinion
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01/01/2019
Trim the fat and cut some of the career politicians. The deficit is ballooning and we need to cut unnecessary spending. Reducing the number of representatives to 400 is a good start.
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RAN's Opinion
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01/01/2019
Yes, to reduce size of government. While the forefathers wanted the representatives to increase with the population, its being done with the count of illegal aliens. The representatives are getting paid an obscene amount of money, this is wrong, not to mention the perks being able to invest in things they know are a sure thing because they are in government. Serving in government was never supposed to be a desire for a person, the idea was to get in and get out, people would be losing money while in service so they would want to get their job done and get out, to get back to their own lives. These people in government don’t represent their constituents, not because their districts are too large, because they don’t care. They should be making the poorest of wages that is in the country, then they wouldn’t want to sit there for 20,30,40 years. Because they are paid very comfortably they are out to stay there and enlarge government and their control and power.
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Argument opposed

The House of Representatives should be made bigger, not smaller. At its current size, the House is already incapable of properly representing all constituents’ views and responding to their needs — decreasing the chamber’s size will only make this problem worse.

Abbi's Opinion
···
01/01/2019
Who will lose representation? Minorities most likely, we frequently go on the chopping block.
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singinghawk926's Opinion
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01/01/2019
We do not need to be DECREASING the number of Representatives! If anything we should be INCREASING the number of House members to better serve the larger national population.
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IllWill's Opinion
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01/01/2019
Absolutely not! Given the large and growing population of the United States, we need more representatives, not less!
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
    IntroducedNovember 28th, 2018

What is House Bill H.R. 7181?

This bill — the 400 Act — would reduce the number of representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives from 435 to 400, effective after the 2020 decennial census.

Impact

Citizens; House districts; and House of Representatives.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 7181

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) introduced this bill to decrease the number of members in the House of Representatives to 400 to bring its size relative to the Senate closer to the 1st Congress’s ratio of 2.5 as opposed to today’s 4.35. Applying the formula used for the 2010 reapportionment to a 400-member House, large states, such as New York, Texas, and California, would each lose a number of seats; a handful of small states, such as Nebraska, West Virginia, and Rhode Island, would also each lose a seat.

Common Cause’s legislative director, Aaron Scherb called this bill “strange,” and questioned Issa’s timing, since the Republicans had just lost the House before the bill’s introduction. Scherb pointed out, “Shrinking the size of the House could exacerbate gerrymandering and make government inacccessible to more Americans.”

This proposal to decrease the House’s size contradicts many Congressional observers’ opinion that the House should, in fact, increase in size to decrease the governing ratio, which has grown steadily as the U.S. population has increased. The New York Times editorial board, which advocates adding 158 members to the House to make it “proportionally similar to most modern democracies,” points out that growing the House as the U.S. population increased was historical precedent until 1920:

“The House’s current size — 435 representatives — was set in 1911, when there were fewer than one-third as many people living in the United States as there are now. At the time, each member of Congress represented an average of about 200,000 people. In 2018, that number is almost 750,000. This would shock the Constitution’s framers, who set a baseline of 30,000 constituents per representative and intended for the House to grow along with the population. The possibility that it might not — that Congress would fail to add new seats and that district populations would expand out of control — led James Madison to propose what would have been the original First Amendment: a formula explicitly tying the size of the House to the total number of Americans. The amendment failed, but Congress still expanded the House throughout the first half of the nation’s existence. The House of Representatives had 65 members when it was first seated in 1789, and it grew in every decade but one until 1920, when it became frozen in time.”

To bolster their case, the Times editorial board adds that the House’s current size makes it impossible for lawmakers to stay in touch with their constituents, makes lawmakers more vulnerable to lobbyists and special interests, creates districts of wildly varying sizes, and skews the shape of the Electoral College:

“The bottom line is that the House today is far too small, and that poses a big danger to American democracy. For starters, how does a single lawmaker stay in touch with the concerns of three-quarters of a million people? The answer is she doesn’t. Research shows that representatives of larger districts are more likely to take political positions at odds with what a majority of their constituents want. These representatives are also ripe targets for lobbyists and special interests, whose money enables them to campaign at scale, often with misleading messages. Special interests are more likely than regular voters to influence policy positions and votes. Second, the cap on the number of House members leads to districts with wildly varying populations. Montana and Wyoming each have one representative, but Montana’s population — 1.05 million — is nearly twice the size of Wyoming’s. Meanwhile, Rhode Island, which has roughly the same population as Montana, gets two seats. These discrepancies violate the basic constitutional principle of one-person-one-vote, causing voters to be unequally represented in the chamber that was designed to offset the Senate, where every state gets two seats regardless of population. Third, the size of the House determines the shape of the Electoral College, because a state’s electoral votes are equal to its congressional delegation. This is one of the many reasons the college is an unfair and antiquated mechanism: States that are already underrepresented in Congress have a weaker voice in choosing the president, again violating the principle that each citizen should have an equal vote.”

However, there’s limited public support for adding new House seats. In April 2018, a Pew Research survey found that:

“Only 28% of Americans said the House should be expanded, versus 51% who said it should remain at 435 members. When historical context was added to the question, support for expansion rose a bit, to 34%, with the additional support coming mainly from Democrats.”

This bill doesn’t have cosponsors.


Of NoteCongress permanently fixed the number of House seats at 435 in the Permanent Apportionment Act of 1929. At that time, each House member represented 282,000 people. If that ratio were to be applied based on America’s population today, there would be over 1,100 representatives in the House.

Over time, the average seat in the House has gone from representing 33,000 people to more than 700,000 today. Today, the U.S. has the largest representation ratio among OECD nations.

The New York Times’ figure of 158 additional House members comes from the finding that national legislatures around the world “naturally conform to a clear pattern” of being roughly the cube root of their countries’ populations. Using this standard, America’s estimated population in 2020 would expand the House to 593 members, after subtracting the 100 members of the Senate, leading to an addition of 158 House members.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / tzahiV)

AKA

400 Act

Official Title

To establish the number of Members of the House of Representatives at 400.

    Anything that has to do with reducing the the size of government I’m all in. Year after year Congress has proven to be ineffective, they no longer represent their constituents they represent special interests groups of the very powerful lobbyists in DC. Both Democratic’s and Republican’s are guilty, let’s have term limits and clean house.
    Like (96)
    Follow
    Share
    Who will lose representation? Minorities most likely, we frequently go on the chopping block.
    Like (186)
    Follow
    Share
    We do not need to be DECREASING the number of Representatives! If anything we should be INCREASING the number of House members to better serve the larger national population.
    Like (172)
    Follow
    Share
    Absolutely not! Given the large and growing population of the United States, we need more representatives, not less!
    Like (123)
    Follow
    Share
    Funny how the republicans want to decrease the size of the now democratic controlled house but leave the senate alone. I guess they are starting to realize that their game of being #45’s puppet is just about up.
    Like (69)
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    It is time to increase tge number of representatives and eliminate gerrymandering.
    Like (52)
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    The population is growing yet there is a proposal to reduce the number of representatives! That’s insane! Who will loose representation? Absolutely not!
    Like (42)
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    Trim the fat and cut some of the career politicians. The deficit is ballooning and we need to cut unnecessary spending. Reducing the number of representatives to 400 is a good start.
    Like (40)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes, to reduce size of government. While the forefathers wanted the representatives to increase with the population, its being done with the count of illegal aliens. The representatives are getting paid an obscene amount of money, this is wrong, not to mention the perks being able to invest in things they know are a sure thing because they are in government. Serving in government was never supposed to be a desire for a person, the idea was to get in and get out, people would be losing money while in service so they would want to get their job done and get out, to get back to their own lives. These people in government don’t represent their constituents, not because their districts are too large, because they don’t care. They should be making the poorest of wages that is in the country, then they wouldn’t want to sit there for 20,30,40 years. Because they are paid very comfortably they are out to stay there and enlarge government and their control and power.
    Like (36)
    Follow
    Share
    H.R. 7181 AKA The 400 Act - - - NO Way Change- I strongly oppose and don’t recommend the passage of this bill H.R.7281 AKA — the 400 Act — would reduce the number of representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives from 435 to 400, effective after the 2020 decennial census. The Founding Fathers were wise in the establishment criteria for te number ad role to be performed by the House members. The House of Representatives should be made bigger, not smaller. At its current size, the House is already incapable of properly representing all constituents’ views and responding to their needs — decreasing the chamber’s size will only make this problem worse. SneakyPete..... 👎🏻👎🏻👎🏻. 1*1*19.....
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    Decreasing removes representation from the people. The United States of America population is increasing. The number of Representatives should go up not down.
    Like (31)
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    Anything to cut cost! Congress doesn’t do much anyway and with democrats in power things will just get worse.
    Like (22)
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    Quite the opposite, there should be more representatives. We have gone well beyond the founding father’s original intention.
    Like (17)
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    I don’t think the reason constituents aren’t being “properly represented” is the size of the House. Rather, I see it as a result of pursuing donor dollars and pandering to a base that doesn’t align with the majority of American citizens. Since it appears that Congressmen and -women seemingly won’t institute changes that, to some degree might remove self-interest as an influence on legislation and votes, we need a grassroots movement to do it for them, in my opinion. Term limits, eliminating gerrymandering, disallowing PACs, and publicly funded campaigns could help. Additionally, there is a direct relationship between the effects of this Bill and the Electoral College: “The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. Your state's entitled allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for your Senators.” (National Archives). You may remember in recent times when the Electoral College gave the election to the loser of the popular vote?
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    Nay! Quote: “Third, the size of the House determines the shape of the Electoral College, because a state’s electoral votes are equal to its congressional delegation. This is one of the many reasons the college is an unfair and antiquated mechanism: States that are already underrepresented in Congress have a weaker voice in choosing the president, again violating the principle that each citizen should have an equal vote.” We need MORE representatives, not less. This is another attempt to screw constituents! Sneaky, sneaky.
    Like (17)
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    You want to save money, get rid of the Senate! We need to be increasing the size of the house, not decreasing it. Empty space is already having a ridiculously outsized effect. The house representation is supposed to be of PEOPLE, not of empty space. The number of voting seats in the House of Representatives has since 1913 been 435, capped at that number by the Reapportionment Act of 1929. Wyoming already has 4x the voting power by population than Texas and California. Stop trying to take representation away from people. This is nothing but a dirty cheaters method to steal the voice of the people.
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    Oooh, another chance for the GOP to gerrymander. No thanks.
    Like (16)
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    More republicans stacking decks again- all the issues we need to be dealing with and this is what jokers come up with? Always seems to be about protecting republicans re- election and saving their own asses from getting caught breaking the law/ cheating to win elections. Where is your humanity and sense of duty?
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    Another shifty republican manipulation to hold onto power?
    Like (15)
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    I think there should be 4 yr term limits and they can run for an additional 4 years just like potus. Then you don’t have old shrivel dicks that have been there 40,50,60 years plus and have been purchased by lobbyists. Do away with the whole lobbying system so they truly represent the will of the people not corporations.
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