The recent health issues among members of Congress have brought the age of politicians to the forefront of public concern.
The electorate is growing more anxious about the age of the individuals responsible for enacting laws and setting regulations that impact American citizens.
There are no age restrictions for serving in either House of the legislative branch, and many members from both sides of the aisle, some of whom have devoted their entire careers to congressional service, are over 80 years old and actively participating in both chambers.
In the House of Representatives, the average age is 57, while the Senate’s average is somewhat higher at 64. Among the 435 present members of the House, 15 are aged 80 or above.
Notable octogenarians in the House include Democrats Bill Pascrell Jr., Maxine Waters, Steny Hoyer, Jim Clyburn, Nancy Pelosi, Grace Napolitano, Eleanor Norton, Anna Eshoo, Frederica Wilson, and Rosa DeLauro, along with Republicans John Carter, Virginia Foxx, Hal Rogers, and Kay Granger.
In the Senate, four out of the 100 current members are at least 80 years old, with one having recently turned 90.
The list of Senators aged 80 or above features Democrats like Dianne Feinstein, 90, and Independents such as Bernie Sanders, 81, and Republicans Mitch McConnell, 81. and Chuck Grassley, 89.
The last few months have seen several health-related incidents from both parties, sparking conversations about implementing term limits or age restrictions for those in Congress. For instance, Senator Feinstein, representing California since 1992, was hospitalized briefly following a minor fall at her home in San Francisco.
Despite being a minor incident, this wasn’t the first time Feinstein, Congress’s oldest member, faced health issues. Earlier this year, she was treated for severe neurological complications from shingles, affecting her brain and face. Her extended health struggles have raised questions about her ability to fulfill her responsibilities, as she appeared confused several times during hearings.
Similarly, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, who turned 81 in February, experienced a worrisome moment during a press conference, seeming to freeze up while speaking. He later reassured reporters that he was fine but had suffered a concussion and fractured rib from a fall, requiring time for recovery.
The age issue isn’t limited to Congress; President Biden will celebrate his 81st birthday in November. With these occurrences drawing attention to the advancing age of key political figures, questions about the impact of age on the ability to govern effectively continue to grow in prominence.