Michigan Rep. John Dingell to Retire

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Democrat is Longest-Serving Member of Congress.

Rep. John Dingell, dean of the House and the longest-serving member of Congress in history, is retiring after serving more than 58 years in the House.

Mr. Dingell, 87 years old, said in prepared remarks to a local business group that he had “always known that when the time came that I felt I could not live up to my own personal standard for a Member of Congress, it would be time to step aside for someone else to represent this district.” Mr. Dingell was addressing the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber of Commerce.

In the speech, he had harsh words for Congress, calling it a “great disappointment to everyone.” And he said the blame was with lawmakers and voters. “There will be much blaming and finger pointing back and forth, but the members share fault, much fault; the people share much fault, for encouraging a disregard of our country, our Congress, and our governmental system,” he said.

Mr. Dingell first won his House seat in 1955, through a special election held after the death of his father, who had held the seat since 1933. As the longest-serving member of the House, he swears in the House speaker at the beginning of every Congress.

His retirement is the latest in a series of retirements of “old bulls” who have been the House’s pillars of liberal legislating. That group includes California Democrats Henry Waxman and George Miller, who earlier this year announced they wouldn’t run again. With Mr. Dingell’s departure, Mr. Conyers, now in his 25th term, will become the longest-serving member of Congress. Mr. Conyers began his tenure in 1965.

From 1981 to 1994, and then from 2006 to 2008, Mr. Dingell was chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. The business-friendly congressman was a staunch defender of the auto interests in his district in Detroit’s working-class suburbs, and those interests increasingly put him at odds with the Democratic caucus’s commitment to tougher antipollution standards.

Still, under Mr. Dingell’s leadership, the committee passed legislation removing more than 8.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and requiring that a percentage of the country’s electricity be generated by renewable energy sources.

He faced a stiff primary challenge in 2002, when redistricting had thrown him into a fight with another Democratic incumbent, Rep. Lynn Rivers, a more-liberal member. His victory showed his ability to adapt to a more modern campaigning style.

His wife, Debbie Dingell, 60, is said to be considering a bid for the seat, which is likely to stay in Democratic hands. Ms. Dingell is chairwoman of the Wayne State University board of governors and previously served as a senior executive at General Motors for more than 30 years. President Barack Obama won the district with about two-thirds of the vote in 2012.

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