Congress would consider expanding its ranks beyond 435 members under legislation introduced Thursday.
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), a senior member of the House Rules Committee, introduced a bill that would (among other things) study and generate recommendations on whether and how the House should change the size of its membership.
"The House of Representatives has not changed size in 99 years. During those 99 years the United States has added four additional states," Hastings said in a statement. "During those 99 years the population of the United States has tripled. And yet, during those 99 years, the House has only rarely even considered increasing its size."
Hastings's bill, the "Congress 2014 Commission Act," comes on the heels of a federal lawsuit filed in Mississippi last month alleging that the system of apportioning seats in Congress is unconstitutional. The suit says that more rural areas have become underrepresented since 1913, when the House was set at a permanent membership of 435.
Some legal experts have suggested that if the House were to add members to track population growth in the last century, the lower chamber could see dozens if not hundreds of new members.
Hastings's bill also provides for several other issues of inquiry into Congress, including different methods for electing representatives, consideration of less adherence to strict party platforms, and whether the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and other American territories should receive voting representation in Congress.
All the nonvoting delegates from those American jurisdictions have signed onto the legislation as original cosponsors.