Voters seem to value experience more than ever, but how old is too old to serve in Congress?

Is age diversity a problem in Washington? We’re taking a look

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While voters turned out in record numbers for Election Day, there continues to be a trend each election cycle regarding exactly for whom people are voting: In general, voters haven’t seemed to mind electing candidates who are already eligible for Social Security, or have been for years.

Age diversity in Congress continues to be a controversial topic, with the average age of congressional members seemingly getting older with each cycle.

In addition, President-elect Joe Biden just turned 78, and will be the oldest man to be sworn into the presidency in January.

Reasons vary as to why older people get elected so often, and solutions -- for those who feel age diversity in Congress is an issue -- aren’t simple by any means.

“The public wants it both ways,” said Dave Dulio, a political science professor and director of the Center for Civic Engagement at Oakland University. “They want new voices and fresh representation, but they also (want) people with experience.”

Facts about age in Congress

As the end of 116th Congress draws nearer, here is an age breakdown for congressional members:

  • The average age of the House of Representatives was 57.6 years old after the 2018 election.
  • The average age of the Senate was 62.9 years old after the 2018 election.
  • Seven senators are now at least 80 years old, with four of those members being older than 85.
  • 29 senators are at least 70 years old.
  • 51 senators, more than half the 100 members, are at least 65 years old.
  • At the start of the session in 2018, 147 members of the House of Representatives were older than age 65.
  • Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is 80 years old.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is 78 years old and was just elected to serve another term.

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