The oldest Congress in history is about to get a little younger

  • On January 2, the median congressman will be 61.7 years old.
  • On January 3, when the 118th Congress takes office, the median member will be 59.2 years old.
  • The new Congress will have 107 septuagenarians, compared to 128 members.

The current Congress is the oldest in US history, the result of a combination of factors that favor incumbents, protect seniority, and strip younger generations of proportional representation.

But on January 3, that will change, at least a little.

The incoming Congress is poised to be considerably younger than the outgoing one, thanks in part to significant changes in the composition of Congress. This includes a once-a-decade redistricting cycle, some notable retirements, and some lawmaker deaths. A competitive internal primary cycle and several inverted seats for each party also contributed.

In fact, on the last day of the current 117th Congress, the median member will be 61.7 years old, the oldest age on record. At noon on January 3, when the new 118th Congress takes office, the average member will be 59.2 years old, a decrease of 2.5 years in a matter of minutes, according to an Insider analysis of congressional age data.

This figure may change slightly as some variables and vacancies are addressed.

The House race in California’s District 13, for example, has not been called. There is an uncalled Senate race in Georgia that will conclude with a runoff next week. The death of Rep. Donald McEachin, a Democrat who represented Virginia’s 4th District, will also require a special election to replace him. The outcome of those three races is unlikely to significantly affect the overall age of Congress.

Assuming that the current membership is maintained, the number of septuagenarians in Congress will drop significantly in January.

On the last day of the 117th Congress there will be 128 deputies and senators over 70 years of age. On the first day of the 118th Congress there will be 107 deputies over 70 years of age.

That being said, if the current 535 members of Congress continue to serve without resignations, deaths, or special elections, the 118th Congress may again set records.

Assuming current membership is maintained, the median age of Congress will be 61.1, as of December 1, 2024, just below the current advanced age of Congress.

But again, assuming current membership is maintained, Congress would in fact have 137 members over the age of 70 on December 1, 2024, which would mean that more than one in four members of the congressional body will be a septuagenarian.

That would do be a record

As it stands, the top three incoming Democratic Party leaders in the House will generally be 31 years younger than the current top three: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Leader of most James Clyburn.

In September, Insider’s “Red, White, and Grey” project explored the costs, benefits, and dangers of life in an older-led democracy, where issues of profound importance to youth and the future of Nation: technology, civil rights, energy, the environment, are largely in the hands of those whose best moments are past.

Join Insider on December 15 at Caveat in New York City for a special TTRPG event, Dungeons and Democracy. Starting at 9:30 pm ET, you and host Walt Hickey will explore The rapidly aging US Congress as part of Insider’s “Red, White and Grey” series.

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