Louisiana Senator Calls for Older Lawmakers to Take Cognitive Tests
Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy is proposing a scientific way to ensure age doesn't get in the way of legislating: have older lawmakers take cognitive tests to ensure they aren't senile.
Cassidy, 64, made the proposal to Axios reporter Mike Allen in a new episode of Axios on HBO.
"At some point, and statistically it's in the 80s, you begin a more rapid decline. It's usually noticeable. So, anybody in a position of responsibility, who may potentially be on that slope, that is of concern. And I'm saying this as a doctor," Cassidy, who is also a gastroenterologist, said.
Cassidy said he would favor a cognitive test that extends to lawmakers in all three branches of government, regardless of their political affiliation.
"I'm told that there have been senators in the past who, at the end of their Senate terms were senile," the Louisiana senator added. "I'm told that was true of senators of both parties."
Cassidy said that asking older lawmakers to take cognitive tests would be "a reasonable plan," adding that elected officials "have a sacred responsibility to the people of the United States."
He continued: "Now you can argue, 'Well they were elected so who cares,' but would it be reasonable to have — for Supreme Court justices, members of Congress, and leadership positions in the Executive branch — an annual sort of evaluation in which they would have to establish, 'Yes.' "
Joe Biden, at 78, is the oldest person ever to be elected president. Prior to Biden's January inauguration, predecessor Donald Trump was the oldest-ever president to take office. He was 70 at his inauguration, in 2017.
A handful of other senior leaders fill the ranks of the U.S. government, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, 81, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 79.
The current U.S. Senate is the oldest in the history of the country, with The Washington Post reporting that 23 members are in their 70s (and only one — Jon Ossoff, 34 — is under the age of 40).
Dianne Feinstein who turned 88 in June, is the oldest sitting senator. Feinstein is just months older than Iowa senator Chuck Grassley, who first secured his seat in 1980, and announced last month he intends to seek reelection in 2022.
Arkansas Republican Don Young, also 88, is the oldest member of the House.
In the lead up to the 2020 presidential election, various polls showed that age was a concern among many voters. Trump specifically tried to wield age as a weapon against his rival by claiming Biden, only a few years older than him, was too enfeebled to take office.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was 78 during the 2020 campaigns, when he was seeking the Democratic nomination.
Former President Jimmy Carter, the oldest living president at 96, said last year that he supported an age limit for those in the White House but he didn't mention anyone by name.