After 58 Years, John Dingell to Retire From Congress

Longest serving member is done with gridlocked Congress.

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Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., won’t run for Congress again in 2014. It seems after 58 years in office, the thought of one more re-election, the fundraisers, the phone calls, the attack ads are just too much for the 87-year-old pillar of Congress.

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According to the Detroit Free Press, Dingell will step down from his post and from a body that is growing increasingly gridlocked and bullheaded. “It was time, given a list of achievements that any other member of Congress would envy,” the Free Press reported. Dingell is expected to make an announcement Monday afternoon when he meets with a local Chamber of Commerce.

Since replacing his father in Congress at the age of 29 in 1955, Dingell has taken a wide ranging interest in legislation. He’s helped draft everything from the Endangered Species Act to President Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act. He’s voted thousands of times and only regretted saying ‘yes’ once when he cast his vote for the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.



Even before he got elected, back when President Herbert Hoover was still in the White House, Dingell was familiar with the ways the rows of seats curved on the floor and the Speaker’s Lobby. His first glimpse of the House Chamber coming as he entered through the east door in 1932.

“It was the most appallingly large door and appallingly large room I have ever seen,” he told the Detroit Free Press in 1982.

It must not have been so bad because in 1937 Dingell came back to Congress and served as a House page. Then he came back in 1955, filled his father's seat and stayed and served in that "appallingly large room" for nearly 60 years, under 11 presidents.

In an interview with The New York Times in 2013, Dingell said he’s been happy to have served in the House all of these years, nearly three decades of it as the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. He said he was content with never rising to be House Speaker. He never longed to be in the Upper Chamber.

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“I’ve given some thought to the Senate, always came to the conclusion: It’s not for me,” he told The New York Times. “ I never wanted to be president. You are not a human being after that. You were never an ordinary person again and I do intend at one point or another to be an ordinary person again."

Once Dingell retires, another representative from Michigan will take the crown as the longest-serving member of the body. But, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., known for velvet suit coats will still need another decade before he catches up to Dingell’s legacy.

Dingell’s seat, however, could stay in the family. According to news reports, his wife Deborah, a former auto industry executive at General Motors, is mulling running for the office.