Age discrimination laws have disappeared in recent decades, but at the same time, there is the issue of members of Congress staying on into their 80s in growing numbers, and one has to wonder if that is good for the nation at large, or whether it helps to promote the image of Congress being out of sync with the nation, and preventing a younger generation of “fresh blood” from having opportunity to serve in Congress.
Presently, there are eight Senators and eleven House members who are in their 80s, and there are others in both chambers nearing 80 over the next few years.
Seven Republicans and one Democrat in the Senate, and eight Democrats and three Republicans in the House of Representatives are now in their 80s, and there is no indication that the House members are planning to retire in 2018.
Four of the House members are in the upper 80s right now—Democrats Sander Levin of Michigan who is 86; Democrat John Conyers of Michigan who is 88; Democrat Louise Slaughter who is 88; and Republican Sam Johnson of Texas who is 87.
Meanwhile, three of the eight Senators were just reelected to terms ending in 2022—Richard Shelby of Alabama who will be 88 then; John McCain of Arizona who will be 86 then; and Chuck Grassley of Iowa who will be 89 then.
Three others have terms ending in 2020—Pat Roberts of Kansas who will be 84 then; Thad Cochran of Mississippi who will be 83 then; and James Inhofe of Oklahoma who will be 86 then.
The other two Senators face election in 2018–Diane Feinstein of California who will be 85; and Orrin Hatch of Utah who will be 84.
The aging of Congress has been a growing trend, and it does not bode well for the future, as far as public support for Congress is concerned.
There is no realistic possibility of legislated age limits, but the growing number of octogenarians in Congress is not a good development.
In the 113th Congress, due to meet on January 3, there will be a total of 34 people of Jewish heritage serving over the two years of that Congress.
There will be 12 Senators and 22 House members, with the only Republican being House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia.
The 12 Senators include newly appointed Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, just appointed and sworn in yesterday for a two year term, before Schatz has to run for the remaining two years of the term of former Senator Daniel Inouye.
The other eleven Jewish Senators include:
Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein of California
Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut
Michael Bennet of Colorado
Ben Cardin of Maryland
Carl Levin of Michigan
Al Franken of Minnesota
Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey
Charles Schumer of New York
Ron Wyden of Oregon
Bernie Sanders of Vermont
Among the House members are:
Henry Waxman of California
Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Alan Grayson and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida
Jan Schakowsky of Illinois
Sander Levin of Michigan
Eliot Engel, Steve Israel, Nita Lowey and Jerrold Nadler of New York
Jewish members of the two houses of Congress come from:
Two brothers from Michigan have become extremely influential in Congress, despite their lack of charisma or self promotion.
I am referring to Senator Carl Levin and his older brother, Congressman Sander Levin.
Carl Levin is a hard working, committed Senator who chairs the Armed Services Committee. He also received extra notice two days ago when he led the questioning of Goldman Sachs executives as the head of a subcommittee investigating the role of that financial company in the collapse of the American economy in 2008. Having served since 1979 in the Senate, he is now in his sixth term, the longest of any Michigan Senator, and plays a very influential role in a quiet way.
Sander Levin has served a House district in the Detroit area since 1983, and with the departure, at least temporarily of Charles Rangel as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Levin has become its interim chairman. Being Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee means Sander Levin is for now, at least, the most significant single committee chairman in Congress, as all money bills MUST first make it through that committee, and the chairman can be a barrier, if he wishes to be, of any financial legislation. But again, Sander Levin, like his brother Carl, has an excellent reputation as he seeks his 15th term in Congress this fall.
So without many realizing it, the Levin brothers are an integral part of the accomplishments and achievements of the Democratic party in Congress!
The leave of absence of Congressman Charles Rangel as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee opens the door to Congressman Sander Levin of Michigan to become its new Chairman, after 28 years in the House.
At the same time, his younger brother, Carl Levin, has been Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee since 2007, and has been representing Michigan in the Senate for 32 years.
So the brothers Levin are in charge of committees dealing with all spending bills and military matters respectively, and that makes them brothers of tremendous power and influence on a level never seen in Congress in its history.
Both have excellent reputations and have served Michigan with distinction, with Carl Levin being the longest serving senator in the history of the state.
The country will be well served with both Levins committed to decent, honest leadership!