Eighty-six-year-old Rep. John Dingell, the former Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, will become the longest-serving member of Congress in history on Friday, his 20,997th day as a representative.
Dingell's tenure—57 years, 5 months, and 26 days of House service, surpasses the record held by West Virginia Democrat Sen. Robert Byrd and spans more than a quarter of the existence of Congress, reports The New York Times
Dingell, a Democrat whose Michigan district stretches from south of Detroit to Ann Arbor, made his first appearance on the House floor at the age of 6, when his father was elected in 1933, notes the newspaper. Dingell went on to become a Congressional page, and after his father died in 1955 he successfully ran for his seat at the age of 29.
With the exception of an 85-day gap after John Dingell Sr. died, father and son have been in Congress for more than 80 years.
"I gave Dad about a week to get comfortable and then I went and ran," he told the Times, adding, "It turned out to be a great thing. I've loved the job."
As Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee and its oversight subcommittee, Dingell "was no-nonsense, tough-minded, tough-spoken, hard-bitten, and he was feared, Bill Ballenger, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, told the Times.
In 2008, Dingell's fellow Democrats ousted him from the committee chair, but he still sits on the panel and says he has not yet decided whether to run for re-election.
"I'm not going to stay here until people are sorry for me," he told the Times. "When I can't do the job right and well, I’m not going to stay."
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