The constitution has no mention of committees. Though
without the various committees and sub-committees the
government would not be able to function efficiently enough
to keep the American public satisfied. The many committees
are head up by chairpersons. These select few are chosen and
more times than not they are the older members of the
committee. If not age, then it is years on the committee.
Despite the qualifications or job that other members would
do the job is given to these congressmen or congresswomen
through “The Unwritten Age Rule”.

Athough this rule cannot be found on any official
governmental document all members are well aware of its
effect on the selection of leaders. Throughout history many
of Congress’s leaders have gained their positions through
their age and experience alone.
Younger and rookie members are not likely to gain positions
of power in a committee. This rule is especially evident in the
major committees of the House and Senate such as the Rules,
Appropriations, and Judicial committees.

The Rules committee is perhaps the most powerful and
influential group in Congress. The basic functions of the
committee include: deciding how much time is allowed for
debate, the time a session will last, and the number of
speakers allowed. The chairman of this committee would
obviously have great prestige in the eyes of his or her peers.
Naturally the current leaders of the Rules committees are one
of the oldest and most experienced members. The House of
Representatives Rules Committee is headed by Rep. David
Dreier is currently serving his 10th term in congress making
him one of the most experienced on the committee. I believe
that because of being consistently elected to Congress he has
been given the title of Chairman. There may well be other
members on the board that are more qualified. For instance,
Mr. Dreier was previously a real estate developer before
joining Congress. One might think that a lawyer or someone
involved with the law field would be most qualified for the
position. There are many of these very professionals on the
committee and even more in Congress, but because of Mr.
Dreier previous terms he has been allowed to take charge of
this powerful committee. The leader of the Rules and
Administration Committee in the senate is Rep. Mitch
McConnell. Senator McConnell as only served three years in
Congress, however it is his age which may have assumed him
the powerful position. Senator McConnell is 56 years old, and
while this is not an overwhelming age it is older than most of
the other members. The Rules Committees are not the only
ones that show the “Unwritten Age Rule”, however.

Today the Judicial Committees of Congress are playing
key roles in the operation of the government. The
committees are responsible for the impeachment and trial of
President Clinton. So, the chairpersons of these committees
have held a lot of power lately. The chairman of the House
Judicial committee is Rep. Henry Hyde. Mr. Hyde is 79 years
old, much older than most of the members. He is currently
serving his 13th term in Congress, that is almost 26 years in
the institution. These facts represent the existence of the
“Unwritten Age Rule”. Because of his intimidating age and
his loyalty to the government he has been given this position.
He has, however, been a lawyer previous, qualifying him to
head a judicial type of committee. However, a judge might
have been a better choice. There are many judges in the
House and none of them were chosen. The current head of the
Senate Judicial Committee is Sen. Orrin Hatch. Mr. Hatch”
age alone could have given him the position through the
“Unwritten Age Rule”, he is going to turn 65 in march. But
that is not the only fact that stands out, Mr. Hatch has been
serving in Congress since 1976, and served many years in the
House of Representatives before that.
In light of the present conflict in the USA, the American
public deserves leaders who qualify for their positions
through quality alone, but due to the “Unwritten Age Rule”,
that may not be true.

The appropriations committee is a very important
committee in Congress. However due to the “Unwritten Age
Rule” the standards of this committee may not be as high as
they should be. Rep. C.W. Young is the chairman of the
House Appropriations Committee. Mr. Young is no where
near the age that his last name may express. Mr. Young just
turned 68 in December. He is much older than many of the
other members in his committee. He is also currently serving
his 30th year in the House. Some may believe that in that time
period he could have