The 1911 House Reapportionment


August 08, 1911

On this date, President William H. Taft signed legislation increasing the membership of the House from 391 to 433, with provisions to add two more Members when New Mexico and Arizona became states. The legislation took effect on March 3, 1913, during the 63rd Congress (1913–1915). Debate on the bill, however, raised concerns that the House was growing to an unwieldy size. “Members are . . . supposed to reflect the opinion and to stand for the wishes of their constituents,” declared Representative Edgar Crumpacker of Indiana, who chaired the House Committee on the Census. “If we make the ratio [of persons per Representative] too large the idea of representation becomes attenuated and less definite. The personal interest of the voter in his representative becomes less important to him, and we may lose something of the vital strength of our representative form of government.” In 1920, partly because of a fear of a large House, Congress failed to apportion the House for the first time after a decennial census. In 1929, the Permanent Apportionment Act capped House membership at 435, where it has remained, save a temporary increase to 437 Members from 1959 to 1963 after Alaska and Hawaii achieved statehood.

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