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After census count, Texas gains 2 seats in U.S. House of Representatives

Congressional seat gains after 2020 Census

After the 2020 U.S. Census count, six states gained elected officials in the U.S. House of Representatives, including Texas, the only state to get two new seats. Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon each gained one seat. Courtesy illustration

Texas gained two additional seats in the U.S. House of Representatives due to a 15.9 percent increase in population from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s decennial count. The only state to gain more than one seat in the House, the Lone Star State will send a total of 40 representatives to Washington, D.C., following the mid-term elections in 2022. 

The latest census information from the 2020 count was released Monday, April 26, by the bureau, first to President Joe Biden as prescribed by law and then to the public in a news conference.

The U.S. Census Bureau counts residents in the United States every 10 years to determine how the 435 seats in the House of Representatives will be split between the 50 states. Although the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are also counted, neither have representatives. The first census count was taken in 1790.

Overall, the United States population rose 7.4 percent to 331,449,281 people between 2010 and 2020, the second slowest 10-year growth rate in U.S. history.

Population shifted to the Southern and Western states from the Midwest and Northeast. The South, which includes Texas, increased in population by 10.2 percent. Texas’ population increased by 15.9 percent. 

Seven states lost seats, while six states gained. Those gaining one seat are: Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon. Losing a seat are: California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. 

The number of people in each congressional district increased from 2010 to 2020 by 53,402 for a total of 762,169 per district.

Release of census data happened later this year than for any other census due to the coronavirus pandemic, which interrupted the operation just as it was swinging into action in the spring of 2020. 

“Despite many challenges, our nation completed a census for the 24th time,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “The American public deserves a big thank you for its overwhelming response to the 2020 Census. I also want to thank the team at the U.S. Census Bureau, who overcame unprecedented challenges to collect and produce high-quality data that will inform decision-making for years to come.”

Usually, census numbers are delivered to the president no later than Dec. 31 in the year the count occurs. State legislatures are then given the numbers to begin redrawing congressional districts, which Texas should do by the end of May, when its legislative session ends. Texas state legislators only meet for five months every two years, and redistricting has to be approved by both the Texas House and the Texas Senate to take effect.

This year, the census will not have the necessary data for states until Sept. 30. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will need to call a special session to get approval before filing deadlines for the 2022 primaries, which are in December. 

That could change the dates for the 2022 primaries, which would normally be held March 1. Legislators are currently considering legislation that would put contingency primary dates on the calendar. 

Texas Senate Bill 1822, now awaiting action by the House, states that the March 1 primaries can be held if the new redistricting maps are approved by Nov. 22. If the maps can’t be approved before Jan. 3, the primaries would be held on April 5. In the case that redistricting is not completed until Feb. 14, the primaries would be held on May 24. 

Redistricting is a contentious and hard-fought battle between political parties as each tries to draw district lines to give their own party advantage. The battle over redistricting after the 2010 Census led to a series of court cases that eventually ended up before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018

That decision concerned the 2010 redistricting maps, which were not approved until 2013. Texas gained four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives under the 2010 Census. Three of those seats were drawn to benefit Republicans, one to benefit Democrats.