As the United States enters its 116th Congress, it appears that the retirement trend from the 115th is set to continue and deepen, with even more members of Congress signalling their intentions to retire. In recent months, a number of veteran lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have announced their intention to step down at the end of this congressional session. This trend is likely to only accelerate as congressional mid-term elections come into focus and younger members of Congress begin to consider.
As congressional leaders brace for an influx of retirees, many will now be charged with addressing two major questions: who will be leading in their place, and who will be taking their place? Both of these questions are especially pressing among younger members of Congress—the aging of the legislative body means that some younger members of Congress are unexpectedly taking on their first major leadership posts.
This retirement trend could create a number of opportunities for those looking to enter politics, as well as for younger elected officials looking to take the reins of leadership. In a statement, incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said, “These vacancies create real opportunities for new leaders to emerge and for new ideas to be heard.”
Efforts to fill the skills gap will be especially important for the incoming class of members of Congress, many of whom will be first-time legislators or who have not held leadership positions before. With the retirement of veteran lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, mentorship and support programs will be especially critical for the incoming class of members of Congress as they transition into their new positions.
As the United States moves into its 116th Congress, the retirement trend is likely to create an opportunity for a diverse set of leaders from different political backgrounds to take the reins and lead. In addition, it provides an opportunity for a new generation of lawmakers to take their places and shape the political future of the nation.