Sen. Mitt Romney recently announced he is not going to seek reelection. That alone puts him in a select group in the Senate. Most hang on as long as their constituents allow them — even if that is longer than they should. Romney, who is 76 years old, is now in a unique position to champion a constitutional amendment providing a maximum age for Congress and the president.

The problems associated with our federal gerontocracy are well known. Nikki Haley recently described the Senate as “the most privileged nursing home in the country.” It is understandable why most would not want to give up the notoriety associated with office. There also is a direct financial incentive because the amount of their pension depends on length of service and the average of the highest three years of salary. An aging congressman’s pension can be quite lucrative — as much as 80% of his or her final salary.

The age problem is not party-specific. Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently froze during a press conference and was unable to answer (or perhaps even comprehend) a simple question. Democratic senator Diane Feinstein has had health issues the required her to be absent from the Senate for long periods of time, and she may suffer from serious cognitive decline.

Aside from these medical issues, one has to wonder how much age influences congressional actions (or inactions). Our debt problems impose an enormous and disproportionate burden on the young. The issues associated with social security, which will disproportionately affect younger workers, are well known. Would these issues have been mitigated by a group that truly felt and represented the interests of younger Americans?

Some are very vocal that leaders need to mirror the rest of society in many dimensions, such as gender and ethnicity. That concern appears not to apply to age. More than half the Senate is over 65. The House has 151 members over 65. By comparison, the median age of Americans is 38.9 years.

Even more problematic is the office of the president. President Biden is 80 years old. The leading Republican candidate, Donald Trump, is 77. How wise is it to put our nuclear arsenal in the hands of one with increased chances of age-related cognitive concerns?

So, what does all this have to do with Mitt Romney? Like others of his colleagues, he could introduce a constitutional amendment providing an upper age limit for the president, the Senate and House. But his decision not to seek reelection placed him in a rare position of acting — not just talking. 

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The Constitution provides minimum age limits for the president (35), senators (30) and members of Congress (25), but no maximum age limits. 

Many who look at the two leading candidates for president must be thinking we could do better. Romney’s feelings about Trump are well known. Perhaps as a parting statement, he might champion the passage of an amendment that would disqualify Trump and Biden. 

“An amendment can’t be passed and ratified that quickly,” you say? 

Think again.

Following an adverse Supreme Court decision, and fearing confusion as to who would be able to vote in the 1972 election, Congress quickly proposed and passed a constitutional amendment permanently lowering the voting age to 18. Ratification of the amendment by the states was completed within four months — the fastest in ratification history.

Though possible, with 34 senators over 70 it would be an uphill battle. But if anyone can do it, surely the retiring senator from the youngest state in the union can.

William R. Titera is a retired partner of a large accounting firm.