As both chambers of Congress become increasingly gridlocked with partisan loyalty, there is talk about ways to remove the gridlock and make the federal government run more efficient.
Studying this gridlock is The Nation National Affairs Correspondent John Nichols. He joined the AWF Union Podcast to discuss increasing the number of representatives in the House, how the 2020 Census was conducted and state voting laws.
Expanding the House of Representatives
Nichols explained to listeners the U.S. Constitution only requires two Senators be elected in each state, and does not make reference to the the number of U.S. Representatives. In fact, he said the number of representatives continued to grow until 1920.
While the House used to represent the population of the U.S., conservative leaders at the time voted to lock the number of representatives in at 435. Nichols said the shift from rural life to urban life and increased diversity scared these representatives into passing legislation to put a cap on the number of representatives.
On average, in 1920 a representative represented 200,000 constituents. Currently, a representative will represent some 775,000 constituents.
Allowing the House of Representatives to expand would localize representation, Nichols said. Although Republicans will never go for it, as the current system stands to benefit them, expanding the House would make it easier for Republicans to hold onto seats.
Voter suppression following the 2020 election
Nichols later dove into the various voting laws being enacted in states with Republican majorities. He is confident these laws may hurt Republicans in the future and assumes the rhetoric of the past election did not do the party any favors.
In addition to unfairly harming elderly voters who may not have the capacity to stand in line at the polls and wait in potentially long lines to vote, Nichols said these laws disproportionately affect college students and those living in urban areas.
As a fix, Nichols said Democrats need to find a way to get rid of the Senate filibuster rule or work around it. While Democrats have launched an effort to shore up voting rights on the federal level, there is little chance any Republican will vote for the legislation.