That’s how many current members of Congress have spent at least half their lives there.
The list includes Rep. George Miller, a California Democrat who announced yesterday that the present 113th Congress will be his last. Miller, a close ally of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and labor unions, is a longtime advocate of increasing the federal minimum wage.
“Miller, the top Democrat on the Education and the Workforce Committee since 2001, also was instrumental in writing the 2010 health-care law known as Obamacare,” Bloomberg’s Derek Wallbank reported.
Miller, 68, was first elected to the House in 1974 as part of the big Democratic class of “Watergate Babies” swept in three months after President Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace. Henry Waxman, another California Democrat, is the only other Watergate Baby left in the House.
Miller has spent 56.8 percent of his life in Congress, fourth-highest among the 15 who have spent more than half their lives there. (Here’s a C-Span clip from early in his career, talking about Ronald Reagan’s tax policies.)
Rep. John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat who’s the longest-serving member of Congress in history, has spent 66.4 percent of his life in Congress, where he began serving in 1955. Another Michigan Democrat, John Conyers, ranks second at 57.9 percent. Rep. Nick Rahall, a West Virginia Democrat, is third at 57.3 percent.
Rounding out the top five is Ed Markey (55.1 percent), a Massachusetts Democrat who moved to the Senate last year after more than 36 years in the House.
Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican who’s been in the House for 54.3 percent of his life, is the youngest so-called congressional half-lifer at age 60. He first won his House seat in 1980 at age 27.
Sen. Max Baucus (54.1 percent), a Montana Democrat, will soon vacate his seat as President Barack Obama’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to China.
The list of 15 is rounded out by Sen. Thad Cochran (53.9 percent), a Mississippi Republican facing a primary challenger this year; Sen. Patrick Leahy (52.9 percent), a Vermont Democrat; Sen. Tom Harkin (52.6 percent), an Iowa Democrat not seeking re-election this year; Waxman (52.5 percent); Sen. Chuck Schumer (52.3 percent), a New York Democrat who’s a current roommate of Miller’s and a former House colleague; Rep. Charlie Rangel (51.5 percent), a New York Democrat; Sen. Ron Wyden (51.0 percemt), an Oregon Democrat; and Rep. Don Young (50.7 percent), an Alaska Republican.