Sen. Bernie Sanders at the Capitol last month.
Sen. Bernie Sanders at the Capitol last month.Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
  • Bernie Sanders is the second-oldest senator, and he wants to serve six more years.
  • Despite other older senators struggling with health issues, Sanders is pressing ahead.
  • "I would not have run if I didn't think I had the energy," he said.

Bernie Sanders will be 89 in January 2031, the end of what could be his fourth term in the Senate.

That didn't deter the 82-year-old Vermont senator and two-time presidential candidate from announcing his reelection bid last week.

Yet many remain concerned about not just Sanders but also older politicians in general. Sen. Dianne Feinstein ran for reelection at 85, only to experience several public memory lapses before dying in office. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 82, experienced two public freeze-ups last year.

Polling has long shown that age limits for politicians are widely popular, and 80 is typically the ceiling. One House Republican has even proposed a constitutional amendment to bar anyone over 75 from serving in Congress or the White House, and voters in North Dakota are set to vote on imposing age limits this year.

"I would not have run if I didn't think I had the energy," Sanders told The Washington Post," describing age as "only one factor" when it comes to evaluating political candidates.

That's similar to what he told Business Insider two years ago, when he said it's "fair to ask about anything that's reasonable, including age," but that age is "not a reflection of their views on the issues."

Sanders is the second-oldest member of the Senate, ranking behind Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who's 90.

Concerns about age have famously dogged President Joe Biden, who is the oldest president in American history at 81.

But in Congress, seniority carries institutional advantages that motivate lawmakers to hang on to their seats.

Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, the longest-serving woman member of Congress in American history, explicitly made the case for her seniority in an interview with BI in 2022.

"It's a lot for a community to give up," Kaptur said at the time. "People here have a lot to lose."

Sanders himself has benefited from seniority allowing him to chair the Senate Budget Committee during the first two years of Biden's presidency and now the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee for the past 16 months.

He said in his reelection announcement that it put him "in a strong position to provide the kind of help that Vermonters need in these difficult times."

Sanders has also used that position to highlight progressive priorities at the national level, including a 32-hour workweek and a $17 federal minimum wage.

Read the original article on Business Insider