The news that New Mexico freshman Senator Ben Ray Lujan, age 49, one of the 12 youngest Senators, has suffered a stroke and will need to recover, is a shock to the reality of the massive crisis that exists if a Democrat is sick as he is, or were to pass away.
The Senate has become an older body in recent years, and with seven Senators over 80 and 30 Senators in their 70s, it is a very delicate situation if any Senator of either party is indisposed or was to die.
It means, for now, that action on even the Supreme Court nominee will likely have to be delayed as Lujan recovers, with all good wishes from everyone, but the thought that one of the older Senators in the Democratic Party could suddenly die, could lead to Mitch McConnell and the Republicans taking over the Senate before the election results of 2022 are in!
The average age of Senators is about 63 and 58 for the House of Representatives.
And the top three leaders in the House–Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn–are all in their early 80s, as is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is 80 this month of February.
And of course, Joe Biden is 79, and so many other key figures in American national government are in their 70s and 80s!
So the aging of American government is a major threat to stability!
Although there is some opposition to the existing Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives, it is now clear that younger members of diverse background are being groomed to be in the top leadership by the 117th Congress in 2021.
Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, The Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the past four years, will now have the position of Assistant Democratic Leader, the fourth ranking position in the House leadership. Lujan is 46 years old, and has been a member of the House for ten years, and would be the highest ranking Latino in Congressional history. He is a leader on the issue of public lands, and has also led on Native American issues in his tenure, and is an inspiring figure who could become the new Speaker of the House or the House Majority Leader in the 117th Congress.
Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee in the present Congress, will have the position of Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, the fifth ranking position in the House leadership, He is 48 years old, and has been a member of Congress for the past six years, after six years in the New York State Assembly. He has been the Congressional Black Caucus Whip, and has been active in pursuing programs to deal with the high public housing and high unemployment of his Congressional district. He is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is seen as a rising star in the party, who also might contest to be Speaker of the House or House Majority Leader in the future.
So in a nation becoming more diverse, we have a Latino member and African American member of the House of Representatives who will be making news in the coming years, and rising into House leadership.