This page was originally posted in 2017, but given the relevance in the coronavirus outbreak, we've updated the data for the 116th Congress. For the original 115th Congress data, scroll down.
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted daily life in numerous ways—schools are closed, restaurants and bars are shut down, and millions of Americans are working from home to practice social distancing and avoid transmission of the novel coronavirus. However, Congress is not able to work from home as all voting must be done in person based on current law. This brings up the question, which members of Congress are most at risk of COVID-19? The CDC has recommended those over 65 be the most strict in their social distancing, an age bracket that includes many members of Congress. We took a look at the breakdown:
Original Post from 2017
Today the average American is 20 years younger than their representative in Congress. This should come as no surprise, considering that over the past 30 years the average age of a Member of Congress has increased with almost every new Congress. In 1981, the average age of a Representative was 49 and the average of a Senator was 53. Today, the average age of a Representative is 57 and the average of a Senator is 61. This prompted us to take a further look at those graying averages.
The average age of the Democratic House leadership is 72 years old, whereas the average age of Republican House leadership is 48 years old. This trend continues in House committee leadership with Republican chairmen averaging 59 years old and ranking Democrats averaging 68 years old.
There are 44 congressional districts in which the age of the Representative is more than double the median age of their constituents. Of these 44 Representatives, 38 won their last election by more than 60% of the vote. The following Representatives are particular outliers of this analysis.
18 of the 33 Senators running for reelection in 2018 will be 65 or older. If they win, another six years in office would put Senators Feinstein, Hatch, Nelson, and Sanders well into their 80s. Looking ahead at the 2020 elections, 21 of the 33 Senators running for reelection will be 65 or older. The current chamber is already one of the oldest Senates by some measures according to the Washington Post, and the data suggests this trend would continue in the coming years.
On the campaign trail President Trump vowed to “propose a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress” as part of his “Contract with the American Voter.” Congressional term limits are far from a new idea and are often considered a possible solution to the aging of Congress. However, past proposals have all failed to garner the two-thirds majority in both chambers required for a constitutional amendment. While the White House is sure to face opposition from Congress on such a proposal, if there’s anything this past week has taught us -- President Trump plans on following through. See a breakdown by chamber of what would happen if term limits were implemented.