Michigan Democratic Rep. John Dingell, who was first elected to Congress in 1955 to fill a seat his father had held, says he will not seek re-election later this year.
He'll leave office having served in Congress longer than anyone else in history. Last June, Dingell passed the previous record holder, the late Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.
Dingell, who turns 88 in July, tells the News that "I'm not going to be carried out feet first. ... I don't want people to say I stayed too long."
"Dingell is best known for his tireless championing of the Detroit auto industry. For that he has been criticized by environmentalists, even though his career is filled with major conservation victories, such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. But his resistance to new fuel-economy standards in automobiles was partly behind his being dumped as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee [in 2008]. ...
"He has also played a major role in civil rights legislation, including the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and health care legislation, including the creation of Medicare in 1965."
According to the News:
"More than health concerns, Dingell says a disillusionment with the institution drove his decision to retire.
" 'I find serving in the House to be obnoxious,' he says. 'It's become very hard because of the acrimony and bitterness, both in Congress and in the streets.' "
The Free Press points out that "with Dingell's departure at the end of the current term in early January, the longest-serving active member of Congress will be another Michigander, U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, who once worked for Dingell and has been in the House since 1965."