Retiring Rep. John Dingell: There Was a Time When Congress Worked

Friday, 27 Jun 2014 06:07 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Retiring Michigan Democratic Rep. John Dingell, whose service in Congress since 1955 is the longest in its history – says he’s never seen the institution so sluggish.

"I have cast some 25,000 votes. I have served alongside more than 2,400 colleagues. And I've sat in the chamber of the House of Representatives to witness some 51 State of the Union speeches from all of the American presidents with whom I'm served," Dingell said in a Friday speech at the National Press Club, The Hill reported.

"I want to make it clear this is not to brag about my accomplishments. It's simply to show there was a time when Congress could and did work."

Dingell said he has reminded some of his colleagues "of the very definition of the word Congress: It means 'coming together.' Sadly, however, it has not been doing much coming together lately."

It’s not hopeless, the former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee said, suggesting a way to help move legislation through committees would be to slash their members.

With some committees bulging with nearly 100 members, he asked, "What do you think the chances are for intelligent debate of important national concerns?"

Dingell said the highlight of his long career is passage of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, adding he and his late father, Michigan Democratic Rep. John Dingell, Sr., introduced legislation at the start of every Congress to create a national health insurance system.

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