Feb. 8, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Eldest Statesman Has Seen Big Changes

He ended up winning re-election as a Republican and has been a reliable GOP vote ever since. Unlike the days when he would post party unity scores (the percentage of votes on which he sided with a majority of Democrats against a majority of Republicans) in the 40s, Hall is now a reliable vote for the GOP more than 90 percent of the time.

In 2010, he joined the House Tea Party Caucus, along with a dozen or so other members of the Texas delegation.

Not Ready to Retire

At 89, Hall is used to hearing about how he’s too old to be effective.

So, in May, after being attacked along those lines by a primary challenger, Hall decided to skydive to prove his sprightliness.

“I run a couple of miles every morning, and when I was running, I looked up and there was an airplane up there. I thought, if I could jump up and touch that airplane, they’d think I was agile enough maybe to keep on being their congressman,” Hall said in a speech on the House floor. “If running two miles every morning, voting 99-plus percent of the time, if that wasn’t enough, I had to do something else. So I decided if I jump two miles, maybe that would be it.”

Hall won the primary, and in November he cruised to victory in the general election, becoming the oldest person ever elected to a House seat.

Among all the demographic changes that have taken place in Congress over the decades, perhaps one best illustrates the evolution of Hall’s career.

When he took office in 1981, Hall was one of 125 World War II veterans serving in the House, according to a Congressional Research Service analysis of data from the American Legion. Today, Hall and Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich. — the next-oldest House member at 86 — are the only members of “the greatest generation” still serving in the House. There are three in the Senate, all Democrats: Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey and Daniel K. Inouye and Daniel K. Akaka of Hawaii.

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