Order Code RS21379
Updated October 25, 2004
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Membership of the 108th Congress: A Profile
Mildred L. Amer
Specialist in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
This report presents a profile of the membership of the 108th Congress. Included
is information on numbers of Members, party affiliation, average age and length of
service, occupations, religious affiliation, military service, female and minority
Members, and foreign-born Members.
Currently, in the House, there are 227 Republicans, 210 Democrats (including five
Delegates), one Independent, who is aligned with the Democrats, and two vacancies.
The Senate has 51 Republicans, 48 Democrats, and one Independent, who is aligned
with the Democrats.
The average age of Representatives at the beginning of the 108th Congress was 53.9
years; of Senators, 59.5 years; and of both houses, 54.9. An overwhelming majority of
Members have a college education. The dominant profession of Members continues
to be law, followed by business.
Protestants collectively constitute the majority religious affiliation of Members.
Roman Catholics account for the largest single religious denomination, and numerous
other affiliations are represented.
At the beginning of the 108th Congress, the average length of service in the House
was about 9 years (4.6 terms); in the Senate, 11.3 years or almost 2 terms.
A record number of 77 women serve in the 108th Congress: 63 in the House, 14 in
the Senate. Also a record 25 Hispanic Members, all in the House, including one
Delegate. There are 39 black Members, all in the House, including two Delegates.
Seven Members are Asian or Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander. There are three
This report will be revised at the commencement of the 109th Congress unless
significant changes occur in the 108th Congress.
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
The 108th Congress: A Profile1
Congress is composed of 540 individuals from the 50 states, as well as the District
of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. This
count assumes that no seat is temporarily vacant.2 The following is a profile of the 108th
In the 108th Congress, the current party breakdown in the House is 227 Republicans,
210 Democrats (including five Delegates), and one Independent who is aligned with the
Democrats. The Senate has 51 Republicans, 48 Democrats, and one Independent who is
aligned with the Democrats.
At the beginning of the 108th Congress, the average age of Senators was 59.5 years,
almost the same as in the107th Congress, which was older than at least the previous 17
Congresses.3 The average age of Representatives was 53.9 years, about the same as in the
previous Congress, but also older than the previous 17 congresses.4 The average age of
both houses was 54.9 years.
Representatives must be at least 25 years old when they take office. The youngest
Representative, as well as youngest Member of Congress, is Adam Putnam (R-FL), 30.
The oldest Representative is Ralph Hall (R-TX), 81.
Senators must be at least 30 years old when they take office. The youngest Senator
is freshman Senator John Sununu (R-NH), who is 40 and a former Member of the House.
The oldest Senator, as well as the oldest current Member of Congress, is Robert C. Byrd
For background information on earlier Congresses, please refer to CRS Report RS20013,
Membership of the 106th Congress: A Profile, by Mildred Amer; CRS Report RS20760,
Membership of the 107th Congress: A Profile, by Mildred Amer; CRS Report RL30378, Black
Members of the United States Congress: 1789-2001, by Mildred Amer; CRS Report RL30261,
Women in the United States Congress: 1917-2003, by Mildred Amer; and CRS Report 97-398,
Asian Pacific Americans in the United States Congress, by Lorraine Tong.
Note there are two vacancies in the House. Since 1789, 11,711 individuals (not including
Delegates and Resident Commissioners) have served in Congress: 9,836 only in the House, 1,240
only in the Senate, and 635 in both houses.
Some of the information here, some of which is no longer available, was obtained from
oncongress.cq.com/pubviews/congresswatch108.jsp, the website of Congressional Quarterly,
Inc.; and “Congress of Relative Newcomers Poses Challenge to Bush, Leadership,” CQ Weekly
Report, vol. 59, Jan. 20, 200l, “Average Age,” CQ Weekly Report, vol. 57, Jan. 9, 1999, p. 61.
As has been true in previous Congresses, law and business are the dominant
professions in the 108th Congress.5 Other professions include public service, education,
agriculture, and journalism. A closer look at the prior occupations of Members of the
108th Congress also shows:
eight medical doctors (including a psychiatrist), three dentists, two
veterinarians, an optometrist, three nurses, one pharmacist, and three
35 mayors, 13 state Governors, 11 Lieutenant Governors (including two
Delegates), two state first ladies (one of whom was also the first lady of
the United States) and one territorial first lady, two former cabinet
secretaries, two state supreme court justices, and a federal judge;
a president of the National Conference on State Legislatures and 274
(232 in the House and 42 in the Senate) former state legislators;6
112 congressional staffers (including 10 congressional pages), 14 White
House staffers or fellows, several former executive branch employees,
a former aide to the Secretary of Defense, a former deputy administrator
in the Veterans’ Administration, a former deputy assistant Secretary of
State, and a former ambassador;
four police officers (including a Capitol policeman), two state troopers,
two sheriffs, two volunteer firemen, two probation officers, and a border
two FBI agents and one CIA agent;
two physicists, two chemists, a biomedical researcher, a geologist, and
six Peace Corps volunteers;
an astronaut, a professional magician, a semi-professional musician, two
broadcasters, a television sportscaster, a television reporter, a
motivational speaker, a commercial airlines pilot, a corporate pilot, a
flight school instructor, a major league baseball player, a major league
football player (who was also a college football coach), a florist, a
librarian, two vintners; and
Congressional Quarterly, Inc, “Congress Watch, A Guide to the 108th Congress.”
National Conference of State Legislators, “Former State Legislators in the 108th Congress,”
internal report made available to CRS.
two auctioneers, two jewelry makers, a steelworker, a carpenter, an
ironworker, a paper mill worker, a meat cutter, a river boat captain, a
hotel bellhop, a taxicab driver, a race track blacksmith, and a “jackeroo”
(cowboy) on a sheep-cattle ranch.
As has been true in previous Congresses, the Members of the 108th Congress are well
educated. At least 399 Members of the House and 97 Senators hold bachelor’s degrees;
124 Members of the House and 19 Senators have master’s degrees; 175 Members of the
House and 59 Senators hold law degrees; 18 Members of the House have doctoral
degrees; and 11 Members of the House and three Senators hold medical degrees.8
In addition, there are two graduates of the U. S. Military Academy, one in the House
and one in the Senate; one Senator is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy; one
Representative (a woman) is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy; five
Representatives and three Senators were Rhodes Scholars; one Representative was a
Fulbright Scholar, and one was a Marshall Scholar.
At the beginning of the 108th Congress, the average length of service of Members of
the House was about 9 years or 4.6 terms, the highest it has been since the 102nd Congress
(1992-1993). Representatives are elected for 2-year terms. Representative John Dingell
(D-MI) has the longest consecutive service of any Member of the 108th Congress (48
years). Currently the dean of the House, he began serving on December 13, 1955.10
At the beginning of the 108th Congress, the average length of service of Senators was
nearly 11.3 years, the highest since the 103rd Congress (1993-1995). Senators are elected
for 6-year terms. Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) has served longer (45 years) than any
other incumbent Member of the Senate. His service began on January 3, 1959. Senator
Ted Stevens (R-AK), the Senate President pro tempore, is the current Republican Senator
with the longest Senate service (35 years). He has served since December 24, 1968.
“Guide to the New Congress,” CQ Daily Monitor, vol. 38, no. 161, Nov. 7, 2002, pp. 21-45.
Six Reps., one Sen., and one Del. have an M.D. degree; three Reps. have a D.D.S. (doctor of
dental surgery) degree; two Sens. have a D.V.M. (doctor of veterinary medicine) degree; and one
Rep. has an O.D. (doctor of optometry) degree.
Note that 49 Sens. in the 108th Congress have previously served in the House of Representatives.
Rep. Philip M. Crane (R-IL), who has served in the House for 34 years, is the Republican in
the 108th Congress with the longest continuous House service.
Most Members of the 108th Congress cite a specific religious affiliation. Protestants
(Episcopalians, Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and others) collectively constitute the
majority religious affiliation of Members. However, Roman Catholics account for the
largest single religious denomination. Other affiliations, such as Greek Orthodox, Jewish,
Christian Scientist, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon), make
up the balance.
Female and Minority Members
A record number of 77 women serve in the 108th Congress: 63 in the House (one
more than the record number of 62 in the107th Congress), and 14 in the Senate. The 14
female Senators are a new record. Of the 63 women in the House, 42 are Democrats,
including three Delegates, and 21 are Republicans. In the Senate, nine women are
Democrats; five are Republicans.
A record 25 Hispanic Members are in the 108th Congress. All serve in the House,
and one is a Delegate. Twenty are Democrats, seven are women. Two Hispanic Members
are brothers, and two are sisters. Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart are Republicans from
Florida. Linda and Loretta Sanchez are Democrats from California.12
Currently, there are 39 black Members of the 108th Congress, two fewer than the
record number of 41 in the 104th Congress. All 39, including two Delegates, serve in the
House and are Democrats. Thirteen black women serve in the House, including two
Seven Members are of Asian or Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander heritage.
Five serve in the House and two in the Senate. One is a Delegate, and one is an African
American with Filipino heritage. All are Democrats.
There are three American Indian Members of the 108th Congress. Two, one from
each party, serve in the House. The third is a Republican Member of the Senate.
Eight Members of the House were born outside the United States. Their places of
birth include Cuba, Hungary, Taiwan, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, and the Netherlands. No
current Senators were born outside the United States, although a number of previous
Senators were foreign born.
Congressional Quarterly, Inc., “Members’ Religious Affiliation,” Congressional Quarterly
Weekly Report, , vol. 61, no. 4, Jan. 25, 2003, p. 193.
Note that brothers Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), and Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) also serve in the
108th Congress as well as Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and his son Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI).
“Born Abroad,” CQ Daily Monitor, vol. 36, no. 135, Sept. 12, 2000, p.7, supplemented by
There are 153 Members of the 108th Congress who have had some form of military
service, some 14 fewer than in the 107th Congress. The House has 117 veterans: 69
Republicans and 48 Democrats, including one woman, who is a Republican. In the
Senate, 35 Members are veterans: 19 Republicans and 16 Democrats. They have served
in World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and Kosovo, and during
times of peace, as well as in the Reserves and the National Guard. One Senator is a
former Secretary of the Navy. There has been a steady decline in the number of Members
who have served in the military, which may be attributed in part to the end of the
Selective Service System draft in 1973.
Some information here is from the Military Officers Association of Americans Office
visited June 29, 2004.