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How Old is Congress?

March 156 minutes to read
Image of the US congress

Usually, whether the conversation is casual or formal, it’s impolite to ask someone, “How old are you?” But when it comes to the U.S. Congress, that question is not only relevant; the answer is important for a multitude of reasons.

Among the many services CiviClick offers its clients is a pipeline to the country’s premiere decision-makers, the 535 members of what constitutes our bicameral form of legislature, the Senate and the House of Representatives. And because lawmakers are people, not bots, it’s advantageous to know as much about them as possible—their backgrounds, interests, hobbies, networks and, yes, their age.

All these factors influence how congresspeople vote on issues ranging from healthcare to immigration to tax reform. So the more homework we do, the more we leverage ourselves for success.

With that in mind, and because we’re in the middle of the 118th Congress—which began January 3, 2023, and ends on the same day in 2025—it’s good to know how old that Congress is. Here’s a glimpse: the average age in the House is 58; in the Senate it’s a bit older, 64.

But before we slice and dice the numbers, and what they mean, let’s take a look at the age of the institution itself.

Two Centuries-Plus and Counting

The U.S. Congress is 235 years old. Established via Article 1 of the Constitution in 1788, it first convened on March 4, 1789. Then, as now, it consisted of two houses: the Senate, where each state, regardless of size, is represented by two senators, and the House of Representatives, whose members are elected based on population. That’s 100 senators, 435 representatives.

The many joint powers of Congress include collecting taxes, regulating commerce, coining money, declaring war, supporting the military and making all the laws needed to execute those powers. While the two chambers are separate, they pretty much have equal say in enacting legislation. Each Congressional term lasts two years, starting every other January of odd-numbered years. And elections, as we all know, take place every even-numbered year, with senators serving six-year terms, representatives for two years.  

From the very start, the Constitution required House members to be at least 25 years of age, those in the Senate at least 30. And while there’s no legal mandate, and have been exceptions, congresspeople are usually affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican party.

So, now that we’re up to speed on Congress, the institution, let’s look at the 118th.

The Numbers

When it kicked off a little over a year ago, the 118th Congress was showing signs of moving in the direction of diversity. For example, Congress’ very first member of Generation Z (1997-2013), then-26-year-old Maxwell Frost, a Democrat representing the 10th district of Florida, joined the House. And, overall, the 118th began with an average age of 58, three years younger than the previous Congress.

Still, that’s about 20 years above the average age of Americans, which is 39 years old.

Looking at the House’s 435 members in particular, where the average age is about equal to all of Congress, 64 of its members were born in the 1980s — almost twice that of the previous Congress — and one was born in the 1990s. The age group with the biggest gain compared to the 117th Congress is the 40-to-49-year-olds, while those between 60 and 69 experienced the biggest losses.

The Senate, as mentioned above, is a bit older on average, at 64 years.

It’s worth noting that the oldest members of the 118th were born in the early 1930s, most of them Democrats. The three oldest are:

  • Sen. Chuck Grassley, 90 (R-Iowa)
  • Rep. Grace Napolitano, 87 (D-California)
  • Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., 87 (D-New Jersey)

Three of the youngest members of Congress, aside from Rep. Frost, are:

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 34 (D-New York)
  • Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, 34 (R-Florida), the first Mexican-American woman elected to Congress from that state
  • Rep. Greg Casar, 34 (D-Texas)

Overall, the Democrats in Congress are slightly older than their Republican counterparts. The average age for House Republicans is 56 versus 58 for the Dems. And in the Senate, the average is 62 for Republicans, 65 for Democrats.

One other way to look at age trends is by generation. Overall, 54 percent of Congress are from older generations – Baby Boomers (born 1946-64) and the Silent Generation (1928-45). They have a slight edge over the youngsters. Gen Z, Millennials (1981-96) and Gen X (1965-80) make up 46 percent of Congress.

But the Boomers’ share of the House is declining. It’s at 45 percent, down from 53 percent in the 117th Congress, which is still enough to make it the largest of any generation represented in the chamber. As for Silent Gen members, their ranks are shrinking: Just 21 remain in the House, or 5 percent of the whole chamber – down from 27, or 6 percent, in the previous Congress.

What’s It All Mean?

Numbers, of course, don’t tell the whole story, and age is not the defining factor in how lawmakers vote. They have lots on their plates—the needs of constituents, regional and state issues, party loyalty. But age is part of what defines individuals. Your age and the generation you belong to influence how you view everything from current events to health to technology.

So it’s worth recognizing that, even as the younger generations enter politics, Boomers are still the biggest presence, for good reason. Between 1946 and 1964, 76 million of them were born, far exceeding the Silent Generation and Gen X while just a bit ahead of the millennials. In Congress, they make up almost 49 percent of the federal legislature, even though they only represent about 21 percent of the population. In addition, the Congressional Research Service reports that members of the House and Senate are more likely to serve longer tenures today than they did 70-plus years ago because they’re more likely to seek reelection and win additional terms.

Taking this into account, it’s good to have in mind that, at least for the 118th, older members may be more attuned to the concerns of older Americans. For example, political scientists recently found that they are more likely to introduce legislation addressing senior issues, like long-term care and prescription drugs. They’re also not as focused on issues important to younger Americans, including climate change. And while the young and old alike are concerned about housing, the former are struggling to afford buying a home while the latter worry about access to assisted living or staying in their homes.


When it comes to the U.S. Congress, age does matter, but it’s not the end-all and be-all. The last few years have shown that the age demographics in our most hallowed of legislative halls are starting to shift, but that members of the House and Senate still skew older than average Americans.

For anyone meeting, negotiating or lobbying with congresspeople, this is useful background information. Senators and representatives may inherently see eye-to-eye with you on certain issues, but may need convincing, backed by persuasive reasoning, on others.

Either way, when you walk into a room to chat with someone of a certain age, from a certain generation, it’s good to know who your audience is.