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McConnell incident highlights seniority of Congress

Kentucky Republican not in 10-oldest bracket for legislative branch

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks back to his office escorted by staff, security and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., after the Senate Republicans’ news conference in the Ohio Clock Corridor in the Capitol on July 26.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks back to his office escorted by staff, security and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., after the Senate Republicans’ news conference in the Ohio Clock Corridor in the Capitol on July 26. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Wednesday’s incident in which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had difficulty speaking in a public setting comes at a time of heightened concern about the health and ages of U.S. political leaders. But the Kentucky Republican is not even among the 10 oldest members of the current Congress.

Earlier this year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., was absent from Washington for months with a bout of shingles and its after-effects. Feinstein, the oldest member of Congress at age 90, was subject to questions about her efficacy in a time of slim majorities in Congress. She returned to Congress and plans to retire at the end of her current term, which expires in January 2025.

[Related: McConnell briefly freezes at event in Kentucky]

But following a similar incident when McConnell froze during a press conference at the Capitol last month and Wednesday’s at an event in Kentucky, and considering the issues of age surrounding the two current front-runners for the presidential election next year, President Joe Biden, 80, and former President Donald Trump, 77, questions about mortality among public leaders are not likely to dissipate anytime soon.

McConnell clocks in as the fourth-oldest senator and 14th-oldest member of Congress overall.

What follows is a list of the 20 oldest members of Congress and their dates of birth, according to CQ member data.

Stephen Salfeety contributed to this report.

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