The House Limits its Number

Every decade, the Census determines the size of each state’s House delegation. Before 1913 (when membership reached 435), total House membership expanded steadily as the population grew—with some states getting more members while others kept the same number even if their population decreased. The chamber became increasingly crowded, forcing members to abandon individual desks on the floor in favor of compact theater-style seating.

The 1920 Census raised a new dilemma. More than half the population now lived in cities and towns. Rural states fought suggestions to shrink their delegations. Other members, meanwhile, resisted enlarging the already packed House. Congress broke the stalemate before the 1930 Census by deciding to keep the number at 435, with individual states gaining and losing seats after each Census.