February 24th, 2014
10:06 AM ET
7 months ago

'Dean' of U.S. House to retire

Update 10:47 a.m. ET, 2/24/2014

(CNN) - John Dingell, the longest serving member of Congress in U.S. history, announced Monday that he'll retire at the end of the year rather than run for re-election.

"My standards are high for this job. I put myself to the test and have 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. That time has come," said the 87-year-old Democratic congressman from Michigan, in a statement announcing his retirement.

The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press were first to report early Monday that Dingell would announce his retirement.  In an interview with the Detroit News Dingell said "I'm not going to be carried out feet first," adding that "I don't want people to say I stayed too long."

Dingell told the Detroit News that his health "is good enough that I could have done it again. My doctor says I'm OK. And I'm still as smart and capable as anyone on the Hill." But Dingell went on to say that "I'm not certain I would have been able to serve out the two-year term."

Dancing for Dingell: Congress celebrates an epic run

Dingell added that the increased partisanship in the halls of Congress have diminished his love of his job.

"This is not the Congress I know and love," said Dingell. "It's hard for me to accept, but it's time to cash it in."

In his official statement, Dingell made a pitch for bipartisanship, saying "let us work together. What unites us is far greater than what divides us. No President should have to tell a Congress that if that august body cannot do its task he will do it by executive order."

Word of the retirement announcement from Dingell, the "dean of the House" for nearly two decades, was confirmed to CNN by two Democratic sources with knowledge of the congressman's thinking.

Dingell has served in the House of Representatives for 58 years. He was 29 when he was first elected to Congress, in a special election to serve out the remainder of the term of his late father, who had held the seat since it was created in 1932.

Dingell, whose district is home to the Ford Motor Company, has long been a strong supporter of the auto industry, but he has also stressed environmental issues over the years. In his nearly six decades on Capitol Hill, Dingell's cast thousands of votes and played a key role in helping pass such signature pieces of legislation such as the Civil Rights Act, Medicare, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and most recently in 2010, the Affordable Care Act, which is better known as Obamacare.

Dingell's news comes amid a slew of retirement announcements from many senior House and Senate members from both parties. Michigan is also losing longtime Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, who has served in the chamber for 35 years.

Michigan's 12th Congressional District includes several working class southern suburbs of Detroit known as the "Downriver" area. The district stretches west to include Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan.

Dingell grabbed 68% of the vote in his 2012 re-election. And Barack Obama won two-thirds of the vote in the district in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.

There's speculation that Dingell's wife of 38 years, Debbie, a longtime Democratic National Committee member, may run for her husband's seat, and if she launches a bid, the move could discourage other Democrats from running.

CNN's Paul Steinhauser, Deirdre Walsh and Dana Bash contributed to this report


Filed under: 2014 • Congress • John Dingell
soundoff (216 Responses)
  1. Fair is Fair

    The 87-year-old Democratic congressman from Michigan told the Detroit News that "I'm not going to be carried out feet first," adding that "I don't want people to say I stayed too long."
    -------
    You served 58 years. You stayed too long. FAR too long.

    February 24, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  2. tommysaint1

    Term limits are good

    February 24, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    At 87, he's ALREADY stayed too long.

    February 24, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  4. Abbey

    "I don't want people to say I stayed too long."

    Too late, and in spite of what you think your district and the country is not better off.

    February 24, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  5. john

    They should put him in a cell right next to his wife. Longest serving, and one of the most corrupt.

    February 24, 2014 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  6. Bill

    58 years, this is what's wrong with our political system.

    February 24, 2014 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  7. abdulthebucher

    Cashing in is a poor choice of words.

    February 24, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  8. cneder

    Another demoncRATic bites the dust. They know they can't win with OWEbamacare hanging over their heads!

    February 24, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  9. Ryan

    Frank Underwood strikes again

    February 24, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  10. Steve Miller

    Excellent – detroit might have a chance at survival afterall and the GOP will keep the House!

    February 24, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  11. sickofitall

    adding that "I don't want people to say I stayed too long."...I don't know what is more shocking – the fact that he said that or the fact that he believes he didn't

    February 24, 2014 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  12. Wake up People!

    Thank you Congressman Dingell! You've represented our state for many years and did a great job. Enjoy your retirement sir. You've earned it!

    February 24, 2014 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  13. Abbey

    His tenure and agenda is why the Democrat party of today is to blame for creating the Tea Party.

    February 24, 2014 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  14. cmml

    "It's not the House I love." That's because for 43of his 58 years the Democrats controlled the house – now that he is in the minority he is learning that compromise is more painful when you don't have the power.

    February 24, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  15. Lynda/Minnesota

    Fair is Fair
    The 87-year-old Democratic congressman from Michigan told the Detroit News that "I'm not going to be carried out feet first," adding that "I don't want people to say I stayed too long."
    ---
    You served 58 years. You stayed too long. FAR too long.
    -------–

    Co-signed.

    February 24, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  16. Harry Cline

    "I don't want people to say I stayed to long"
    ___

    I needed a good laugh.
    Ya bum,,

    February 24, 2014 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  17. Jack Alex

    Why is that when people serve they tend to end up serving themselves more than they serve the constituents they represent. Staying this long is a understatment.

    February 24, 2014 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  18. Jose Hose-B

    Goodbye to another Democrat who has realized that Obamacare is the death knell for Democrats seeking re-election. What a pain it must have been for such a distinguished and long-term lawmaker to watch the rank amateur Obama and his cast of idiots – Rahm Emanuel, Dan Pfiefer, Valerie Jarrett, Susan Rice, Eric Holder, etc. – just burn down America's trust in his party. Thank you for your service Mr. Dingell, and so sorry that the dishonorable and corrupt faction of your party has brought the whole thing down. On the other hand, it will be a pleasure to watch a Republican take your seat.

    February 24, 2014 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  19. Fupped Duck

    I heard he is going into the farming business now.
    Have you seen the "Dingle Berries" this man can produce?

    February 24, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  20. newton

    I must mix with the wrong people, I look at people over 70 and there is no way I'd want that mental capacity in politics.

    February 24, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  21. Jack Alex

    Happy retirement!

    February 24, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  22. the_dude

    Far far too long

    February 24, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  23. Reddog9500

    Two words: Term limits.

    February 24, 2014 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  24. Ghost of Abraham Lincoln

    Crimney, I thought four score was a long time. This citizen overstayed his welcome, I reckon.

    February 24, 2014 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  25. Andrewr Friet

    58 years in Congress is far too long for anybody to be in office. This is exactly why we need term limits. We have to weed out the entrenched people in congress from both sides and get some fresh ideas in our legislature.

    February 24, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
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