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How Did the Size of the House
Become Constrained
at 435 Representatives?


As shown in the chart below, from 1790 to 1910 the size of the House of Representatives was increased every ten years to keep up with our nation’s growing population (the only exception occurring after the 1840 census).
 

After the 13th census in 1910 Congress set the size of the House at 435 (effective with the 63rd Congress which commenced in 1913).

Ten years later, after the 14th census in 1920, the members of the House were unable to reach agreement on a reapportionment bill and, for the first time in history, Congress failed to fulfill its constitutional obligation to reapportion the House. Thus the apportionment of the House remained unchanged from 1913 to 1922.
 

Having successfully disregarded the Constitutional requirement to reapportion the House, Congress then put our government on the path to oligarchy by passing the “Permanent Apportionment Act of 1929” which established that, henceforth, the size of the House would be permanently fixed at “the then existing number of Representatives”. The “then existing number” being a verbose and inconspicuous way to specify 435. (This act also specified the particular mathematical method to be used in apportioning that fixed number of seats based upon the decennial Census results.)

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