Grayest Congress in History
The current congressional delegation is the oldest in history.
Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.V., is an institution. He’s the longest serving senator in U.S. history. He’s also 88 years old, and if he wins re-election — he’s the clear favorite in his race — he’ll be 95 at the end of his ninth term. But Byrd isn’t alone. Also up for re-election is Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, who is 82 and would be 88 at the end of his third term, if re-elected. And over in the House, the 83-year-old Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, is running for a 14th term.
Congress, in fact, is the grayest it’s ever been, and don’t expect this to change much after the November midterms. The average age of a senator is 60 (the oldest ever) and the average age of a member of the House is 55 (the oldest in more than a century).
The aging Congress, experts say, is partly a reflection of more members — like Byrd and Akaka — deciding to stay in office for their own personal reasons. But it’s also a reflection of their political parties wanting them to stay. “What is indisputable is that both parties are begging their incumbents to continue serving, regardless of age,” Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, wrote at the beginning of this election cycle.
This isn’t all that surprising, given that the population overall is aging, as is the electorate. Indeed, 60 is practically middle-aged in terms of the median health levels of that cohort.