Longest-serving Congressman and Georgetown alumnus to retire

After a record-breaking 59 years in Congress, Rep. John Dingell has announced his retirement from the US House of Representatives. As a Georgetown alum (COL ’49, LAW ’52) and Michigan Democrat, 87-year-old Dingell helped author monumental bills on civil rights, health care, and the environment.

Called “Big John” due to his towering stature at 6ft 3in, Dingell earned the title of longest-serving congressman last June, taking the crown from the late Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia.

Known for his middle-of-the-aisle politics, Dingell aided in the writing of the Civil Rights Act, Medicare, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Affordable Care Act. The center Democrat was also a proponent of gun rights.

In a email to USA Today, Dingell expressed his commitment to “reiterate to [his] colleagues that the words ‘compromise’ and ‘conciliation’ should not be considered dirty words in Washington.” In a ceremony to celebrate his record-breaking years in Congress, Republican House Speaker John Boehner became emotional when talking about Dingell.

Dingell’s retirement coincides with many other senior congressmen and women stepping down from their seats on the Hill. Many of these politicians cite stagnant bipartisanship as reason for their departure. In an interview with The Detroit News, Dingell said, “I find serving in the House to be obnoxious. It’s become very hard because of the acrimony and bitterness, both in Congress and in the streets.”

Is there hope? In an interview with The Washington Post, Dingell answered, “There’s only one person that can fix it, and there’s only one group of people that can answer that question, and that’s the voters. If they want it to change, it will change.”

Photo: Leslie Science & Nature Center via Flickr

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