Ever Wonder Why Congress is So Old?

It's not uncommon to encounter people in Congress who are well past retirement age. In fact, in the current sitting congress, more than 100 representatives in the House and nearly 40% of senators are age 65 or older. Many in congress are well into their 70's and 80's, with the oldest member -- Rep. Ralph Hall of Texas -- is 91.

The Washington Post and Politico speculated this week on why that might be, and whether or not we're due for a change. One theory put forth on why the average age of congress members is well above the average age of the regular US labor force is that it takes a long time to actually get there. Another problem is that incumbents usually win the election, and few members retire and give up seats to new blood.

Helene Schneider, 43-year-old Mayor of Santa Barbara, predicts a "generational shift" in the next 10 years, at least in the youthful, hip state of California. "The Gen-X-ers are going to take over in California," the mayor says.

At this point, it’s hard to say whether that would be a good thing or a bad thing. There’s no shortage of bench warmers, though, and it can’t be long before at least the octogenarians are out of the game.

Photo: Slate, The Moderate Voice

The oldest representative in Congress, Ralph Hall, is 91.