Within weeks of allegations that his wife engaged in insider trading when she acquired $15,000 worth of Amgen stock, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) has introduced legislation to expand the number of Congressmen and women in D.C.
The Restoring Equal and Accountable Legislators in the House (REAL House) Act aims to increase the number of representatives and increase their “diversity,” as well as the diversity of the Electoral College because Blumenauer thinks that congressional districts are too large.
“The number of constituents living in a single congressional district has dramatically increased since the number of House members was arbitrarily capped in 1929,” Blumenauer said. “Current district sizes threaten the direct constituent connection on which the House was founded.”
Currently, there are 435 voting members of the House of Representatives, a cap from when the U.S. population was only 122 million people.
“The REAL House Act will help our government better reflect our districts and constituents’ needs,” Blumenauer said in a statement online. “To restore the House’s direct link to the public and to foster greater diversity among members and the Electoral College, we must increase the number of representatives.”
The proposal did not outline how much it would cost to increase the size of the U.S. government by his suggested 149 seats.
Since 1929, Blumenauer argues the U.S. population has more than doubled to 328 million people and, as a result, the size of congressional districts has nearly tripled while the number of representatives has remained stagnant.
“The average congressional district now includes 800,000 constituents. If Congress fails to act, by 2050, each member of Congress is on track to represent more than one million people,” he said.
In December 2022, the Democratic National Committee approved a move to remove Iowa as the first state on the party’s presidential nominating calendar—as has been tradition since 1972.
Instead, South Carolina is slated to replace Iowa in 2024, as is President Joe Biden’s preference given his performance in the Palmetto State in 2020. Biden has said the state better reflects the diversity of Democrat voters.
Last month, Congress revised the Electoral Count Act, established in 1887 in a way that creates new rules for the presidential elections. For example, there is no question now that the vice president of the United States cannot discard any state’s electoral votes, while lawmaker objections to the results of a particular presidential election require support from both Chambers.
Blumenauer’s concern that congressional districts are too large emerged after the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) highlighted that, following Blumenauer’s wife’s purchase of Amgen stock, its price increased by 24 percent presumably because a week before, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) acquired $290 million worth of the Amgen medication, Nplate, in the event of radiological emergencies.
Blumenauer is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and its health subcommittee, which may have given him advanced insider knowledge that the drug was being purchased by the U.S. government as it takes action to prepare in the event of a nuclear attack, according to FACT.
“Given the information that they have access to, under the ethics rules, members of Congress who sit on committees must meet a higher standard,” said FACT executive director Kendra Arnold. “Every time the public sees a transaction like this, it causes them to question the motivation of our elected officials, which is something the ethics rules are specifically designed to prevent.”
Blumenauer did not respond to requests for comment.
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