Indiana Congressional Delegation Lacks Seniority

When the new Congress is sworn in Jan. 3, Indiana will lose 84 years of seniority overnight.

When the new Congress is sworn in Jan. 3, Indiana will lose 84 years of seniority overnight.

With three new House members and a new senator, First District Representative Pete Visclosky will be the only Hoosier who is held his seat as long as five years. Thirty-six-year Senator Richard Lugar and 30-year Representative Dan Burton will be gone, along with Governor-elect Mike Pence, who served 12 years in the House.

Joe Donnelly will start at the bottom of the ladder in the Senate after six years in the House. Political analyst Brian Vargus says the covey of freshmen and near-freshmen limits the Indiana delegation‘s ability to influence legislation.

“There are exceptions when you get a young person who‘s very vocal and charismatic and has something to say, but they mostly get sound bites,” Vargus says. ”I don‘t believe that they necessarily influence policy that much.”

He says the gap tends to be particularly noticeable in the ability to bring home federal money for district projects. Dan Coats served in the Senate from 1989 to 1999, but lost that seniority when he left the Senate for 12 years before returning last year.

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