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Postby HankW501 » Sat Feb 01, 2014 9:46 pm

In response to seeing 440 as the answer to a question at regarding the total number of Representatives in Congress, I posted the reply below. I had intended simply to clarify the distinction between voting and non-voting membership, but I guess I got a little carried away. I share this not only to encourage y'all by informing y'all that I am doing my part in sharing our message as a frequent contributor to, and as a Supervisor at, but also because I sincerely welcome all suggestions regarding improving my presentation. It would also be greatly appreciated if someone would confirm the accuracy of the content. In addition to replying here, y'all are also free to make changes directly at WikiAnswers.


I don't know when the answer above was originally posted, but it is incorrect as of January, 2009, and before then it was correct only when including non-voting membership. There has never been more than 437 voting members in the House, which was from 1959, when Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the Union, until 1963, when the apportionment of House seats based on the 1960 U.S. Census took effect.

Despite repeated warnings from the founding fathers not to allow congressional district sizes to exceed 60,000 people at the extreme maximum, The Reapportionment Act of 1929 froze the size of the House at 435 voting members, the quantity it had had since 1913. As a result, the average size of today's congressional districts is over 710,000 people, and one of them, Montana At Large, has over a million people! Congress could pass legislation to increase the size of the House any time it wanted to, but since more Representatives would mean less power for each existing Representative, it is doubtful that they will do so unless/until public pressure increases.

Each of the 435 voting members of the House is elected by each of the 435 congressional districts in the 50 states. The number of congressional districts per state is based on how many 435ths of the population of the 50 states each state has, after a minimum of one district per state. Because those fractions change due to births, deaths, immigration, emigration and internal relocations, they are recalculated, and the House seats are reapportioned, after every official U.S. Census, which takes place every ten years.

Since 2009, there are six non-voting House members, one from each of the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and, most recently, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), making the membership grand total 441. Although they are called non-voting members, they are allowed to vote in committee. It is only in the final votes that take place on the House floor that voting is restricted to Representatives from States.

Coincidentally, if Congress ever gets around to responding to Puerto Rico's December 11, 2012 request for statehood, and they respond affirmatively, there are expected to be 440 voting House members from that time until the subsequent reapportionment takes effect.
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