New Congress is Oldest in History

Wednesday, January 07, 2009
91-year-old Robert Byrd

When Barack Obama takes office on January 20th, he will be the fifth youngest president, and he will be working with the oldest Congress ever. The average age of 57 in the House and 63 in the Senate both represent historical highs. The age increase is a reflection of our aging nation; the median age in the U.S. has increased from 32.9 in 1990 to 35.3 in 2000, to an estimated 36.6 in 2007. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), 91, will be the oldest sitting senator, and also holds the record as the longest serving senator of all time, after 49 years in office. He only recently set that record, beating Strom Thurmond by 2 years. Thurmond was oldest Senator ever, aged 100 when he left office, and he also holds the dubious honor of staging the longest filibuster in Senate history, when he spoke against the 1957 civil rights bill for 24 hours and 18 minutes. Joe Biden, the Vice-President elect, was the fifth youngest Senator to ever take office, only 14 days after his 30th birthday. The Senators who beat him to the seat were all under the required age of 30, but slipped under the radar thanks to inaccurate birth records in the 19th century. Besides being the oldest, the 111th Congress also has the greatest number of women (95), Hispanic (31), and Asian-American (11) members of Congress. However, female representation is still less than 18%, which leaves the United States in only 67th place in gender equality out of 145 nations ranked by the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Women in National Parliaments (Inter-Parliamentary Union)


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