Representing a Changing Nation
While foreign affairs tugged at America's attention, the House remained focused on the home front. Early in the century, many Midwestern Populists and Progressives held strong pacifist and isolationist beliefs, rejecting international involvement. A major concern of many members was the 1920 Census and its potential effect on redistributing House seats among states.
Even as the unsettled climate abroad threatened, domestic concerns continued to dominate the House in the 1930s. Representatives eagerly rallied behind a plan to combat the Great Depression by paying veterans an early advance bonus, and supported President Roosevelt's "100 Days" legislation.
A Domestic Focus
Why did the House concentrate primarily on domestic concerns, leaving foreign policy to the presidency? Two factors kept representatives' attention at home. First, as domestic policy grew increasingly technical, it demanded greater expertise—and attention.
Second, presidents consistently showed superior leadership in foreign and economic policies. Compared with the more fragmented chorus in the House, the president's ability to speak with a single voice and take a broader approach to these national issues gave the executive branch an important advantage.