The generational gulf between House Democrats is shaping their leadership fight, reports Washington Post (source).
There’s a new crop of lawmakers coming to Capitol Hill, with some three generations removed from the current Democratic leadership. That divide — set to be the largest in more than 50 years — has an insurgent group of younger Democrats calling for change at the top.
As House Democrats welcome dozens of Gen Xers and their first sizable group of millennials, their numbers could complicate California Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s bid to reclaim the speakership. Pelosi, Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.), the top three House Democrats, are all approaching their 80s.
(Does Pelosi have the votes to become speaker?)
While no Democrat has emerged to challenge Pelosi, at least eight freshmen have indicated they will not back her for speaker. There is a chance that those “no” votes, combined with those of incumbents who oppose her, could prevent Pelosi from moving forward when the new lawmakers are sworn in come January.
Six races had not yet been called as of 11 a.m. Friday, so those representatives are excluded from this chart. Generation definitions from Pew Research Center.
Baby boomers are by far the largest generation in both House Democratic and Republican ranks, making up 52 and 57 percent of each caucus, respectively.
But no one, baby boomer or otherwise, has emerged as an obvious foil to Pelosi since the election. Fifty-six year-old Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), once considered a possible replacement, unexpectedly lost his primary to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, at the time a 28-year-old activist. She is poised to become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
Republicans, too, added millennials to their ranks. Six new Republicans are of that generation including Dan Crenshaw (Tex.) and Bryan Steil, who will replace Speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin’s 1st District.
But the average age for Republicans will inch up in the next Congress, after the defeat of some younger GOP incumbents and failure of other young candidates to pick up open seats.
In 1994, Republicans, led by House speaker Newt Gingrich, instituted term limits for committee chairmen, and several opted to retire this year. Democrats do not have a similar term-limit rule on committee chairmen.