Meet the 110th Congress: Everything Old Is New Again

Since the midterm election results came in, many a headline writer and pundit has repeated the line about how Americans voted for “new leadership” in Congress. As I mentioned in a post below, one of these “new” leaders is the incoming chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Rep. John Dingell of Michigan.

Dingell, as you’ll remember, was first elected to Congress in 1955 to replace his father, who had died in office. That means, by the way, that the seat in question had been in Dingell family hands for approximately 73 continuous years. Another interesting bit of trivia – both Dingell and Strom Thurmond entered Congress within about a year of each other. Strom is gone, but John is with us still.

Taken in aggregate the not-newness of the new Democratic leadership is even more stunning. Harry Reid recently released a list of who the new comittee chairmen in the Senate are going to be for the 110th Congress. By my rough calculation, those 20 men and women have a combined congressional tenure of approximately 567 years. If you’re a big fan of institutional memory that might be a good thing, but new it most certainly is not.