Older Congress ever may be youthenized

June 11, 2006 | By Kathy Kiely

The collective age of the U.S. Congress is one of the oldest in history because voters want seniority, but is setting the stage for a youth coup, experts say.

The average age in the U.S. Senate is 60.4 years old, the oldest ever, and the average age of 55 in the House sets records dating back to at least the first half of the 20th century, USA Today reports.

With an average age nationwide of 36.2, voters appear to enjoy seniority.

Nancy Thompson of the AARP said people want to stay in the workforce longer, although that could be more out of financial necessity for the everyday older worker.

Still, as age landmarks are set, like Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.V., who on Monday will become the longest serving Senator ever at more than 47 years, the older legislature may be overhauled soon.

Senate rules dictate those with the most seniority get the most coveted committees and younger would-be Senators want in.

Researchers William Strauss and Neil Howe looked at generational roles in U.S. history and found the older an institution is, the more likely youth will launch a successful takeover campaign.

There is no age maximum to serve but the minimum is 30 for the Senate and 25 for the House, which means the middle of Generation X is ready, and maybe willing, for the job.