February 24th, 2014
10:06 AM ET
5 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

    Rudy NYC

    DDP wrote

    "Meanwhile, you "choose" to ignore the obvious once again. The fact that the employee *chose* to work at the company in the first place."

    So what is the problem with Hobby Lobby defining its own benefits? Employees chose to work there as well. If they don't like the nenefits, work elsewhere, just as if you don't like unions, don't apply to a union shop.
    ---------
    Actually, just what is the problem with workers joining together and fighting for better benefits and working conditions? Happy workers are better and more productive workers. Volkswagen understands that. Hobby Lobby has no right to define what type of health care that people are PROHIBITED from having access to.
    --------
    You didn't answer the question. And Hobby Lobby is not prohibiting ANYONE from any access to healthcare whatsoever. They've simply decided they're not going to PAY for it, and they have every right to do so.

    February 24, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  2. it must be said

    Good riddance Dingellberry... just wish you started your retirement at 65 and spared us the last 22 years of leftist politics.

    February 24, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  3. tom l

    tom l

    The party of "choice" supports unions. You get hired [by] a company with union workers and you have no choice. You must join. You must also have dues go to that union. No choice. That union will use your dues that you had no choice but to pay for and go out to politically lobby (even if you don't agree with it). No choice.
    ---------
    Meanwhile, you "choose" to ignore the obvious once again. The fact that the employee *chose* to work at the company in the first place.
    ===

    Gosh, I never heard such arguments with regards to Hobby Lobby not wanting to provide birth control. Not a surprise. Why don't you apply that same logic there? Oh, no wait, it doesn't fit your argument and narrative so you'll tap dance around that one...

    Couldn't we also use that argument for your "minimum wage" diatribes that you spout off? I mean, it's a "choice" to work there, too, right? If you don't like that they're paying minimum wage, then "choose" to find another place of employment? Yup, you're right, it's totally about choice, unless the dems don't think it's right then they'll choose for you because they know better.

    February 24, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  4. Gilbert_Montemayor

    This is why we need term limits.

    February 24, 2014 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  5. Tommy Foxworthy

    You know you've been in the House too long when you need to use Depends.
    You know you've been in the House too long when you don't remember the year you were first elected.
    You know you've been in the House too long when you can't drive to the office aymore.
    You know you've been in the House too long when you can't hear the lobbyists offering you contributions.
    You know you've been in the House too long when you can't stay awake long enough to vote.

    February 24, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  6. tom l

    Rudy NYC

    tom l wrote:

    And, to me, the same holds true with regards to Cruz. His mother is American and so is he. That’s it. As far as Lynda being a liberal now after years of being a republican, that honestly fascinates me and it makes even more intrigued to understand greater. You don’t think I’m a disenchanted republican? That’s why I’m a libertarian now. I am entirely a disenchanted republican. I guess the difference for me is that just because I became disenchanted with repubs didn’t personally make me enchanted with dems. Just the opposite happened to me and I became even more disenchanted with dems, actually BOTH parties, because I believe, and I have said this repeatedly, that from both parties the politicians main goals are to get reelected, get more power and money.
    ---------
    You support Rand Paul, who is a man that feels bigotry is a form of freedom of speech and said that he'd never would have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Enough said. Case closed.
    ======

    From Rand Paul:
    "It's a mischaracterization of my position. I've never been against the Civil Rights Act, ever, and I continue to be for the Civil Rights Act as well as the Voting Rights Act. There was a long, one interview that had a long, extended conversation about the ramifications beyond race, and I have been concerned about the ramifications of certain portions of the Civil Rights Act beyond race, as they are now being applied to smoking, menus, listing calories and things on menus, and guns. And so I do question some of the ramifications and the extensions but I never questioned the Civil Rights Act and never came out in opposition to the Civil Rights Act or ever introduced anything to alter the Civil Rights Act."

    Stop. Lying. Rudy.

    February 24, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. Silence DoGood

    @Fair is Fair
    Rudy NYC

    DDP wrote

    "Meanwhile, you "choose" to ignore the obvious once again. The fact that the employee *chose* to work at the company in the first place."

    So what is the problem with Hobby Lobby defining its own benefits? Employees chose to work there as well. If they don't like the nenefits, work elsewhere, just as if you don't like unions, don't apply to a union shop.
    ---
    Actually, just what is the problem with workers joining together and fighting for better benefits and working conditions? Happy workers are better and more productive workers. Volkswagen understands that. Hobby Lobby has no right to define what type of health care that people are PROHIBITED from having access to.
    --–
    You didn't answer the question. And Hobby Lobby is not prohibiting ANYONE from any access to healthcare whatsoever. They've simply decided they're not going to PAY for it, and they have every right to do so.
    -------–
    So where does this religious exemption stop? Can a Christian Scientist CEO deny all medical benefits because it violates their beliefs? If my liberal religious beliefs are against gun ownership as violent, can I deny benefits for hunting accidents? If not and your special religion (the One True One) is favored then that is obviously against our constitution.

    February 24, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    DDP wrote:

    Way to totally dodge the point I was making and throwing out smoke.

    And please stop lying about Hobby Lobby. NOBODY is being denied ANYTHING. Nobody is prohibited from anything. The issue is employers being forced to pay for something they don't want to offer, and haven't offered in the past. Employees can do whatever they want to do with their own money. Why do you or they think a company should be forced to pay for any type of medical procedure? Especially one that many concsider to be murder.
    ---------------------------
    Dodge? Who? Me? You reply to a comment about unions with a shift to health care. That's called bait and switch. Nice try.

    February 24, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  9. Dan

    How many net jobs Did Congressman Dingall reside over?? -500% ???

    February 24, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    "You didn't answer the question. And Hobby Lobby is not prohibiting ANYONE from any access to healthcare whatsoever. They've simply decided they're not going to PAY for it, and they have every right to do so."

    The rule they're fighting doesn't require them to pay for it. It falls on the insurers. They're fighting it because they literally want to be able to say that they have prevented anyone working for them from obtaining insurance through the company, no matter how paid for, that provides for these things. It's absurd. The people who started the company and own it are not the company. Well, unless they'd like their corporate veil torn down and all of their activities, no matter whether they were done under the pretend auspices of the corporate entity, to expose them to personal liability that could result in their house or car or other things being attached to satisfy judgments. But OOOOOOOH, they don't want that. They want the protection of a corporate entity when it's convenient. Then they want to pretend the corporate entity is just their personal alter ego when it's not convenient and means that they might not get to force their religious beliefs down their employees' throats. Well, the company itself is incapable of religious belief. Choose: Personal liability for everything and no corporate veil OR non-living, non-breathing, incapable-of-belief corporate entity that provides a stop-gap for personal liability but must play by the rules set by Congress and the executive branch even when it gives the owners a sad.

    February 24, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  11. MikeAFL

    58 years in Congress is ridiculous. It's time for term limits. Systemic corruption will not go away as long as these guys can use it to protect their incumbency.

    February 24, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  12. Me

    tom l

    tom l

    The party of "choice" supports unions. You get hired [by] a company with union workers and you have no choice. You must join. You must also have dues go to that union. No choice. That union will use your dues that you had no choice but to pay for and go out to politically lobby (even if you don't agree with it). No choice.
    ---
    Meanwhile, you "choose" to ignore the obvious once again. The fact that the employee *chose* to work at the company in the first place.
    ===

    Gosh, I never heard such arguments with regards to Hobby Lobby not wanting to provide birth control. Not a surprise. Why don't you apply that same logic there? Oh, no wait, it doesn't fit your argument and narrative so you'll tap dance around that one...

    Couldn't we also use that argument for your "minimum wage" diatribes that you spout off? I mean, it's a "choice" to work there, too, right? If you don't like that they're paying minimum wage, then "choose" to find another place of employment? Yup, you're right, it's totally about choice, unless the dems don't think it's right then they'll choose for you because they know better.
    ______________
    Isn't that the truth Tom l, couldn't have said it better!!! Hypocrites, ALL OF THEM!

    February 24, 2014 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  13. tanknut

    "I'm still as smart and capable as anyone on the Hill". The problem with that statement is that the bar is set very very low to begin with.

    February 24, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  14. Kinard

    Good luck in the future. Enjoy retirement. Those you've worked for are grateful, except those with limited vision or lack of thought.

    February 24, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  15. Richard

    Good riddance.

    February 24, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    From Rand Paul:
    "It's a mischaracterization of my position. I've never been against the Civil Rights Act, ever, and I continue to be for the Civil Rights Act as well as the Voting Rights Act. There was a long, one interview that had a long, extended conversation about the ramifications beyond race, and I have been concerned about the ramifications of certain portions of the Civil Rights Act beyond race, as they are now being applied to smoking, menus, listing calories and things on menus, and guns. And so I do question some of the ramifications and the extensions but I never questioned the Civil Rights Act and never came out in opposition to the Civil Rights Act or ever introduced anything to alter the Civil Rights Act."

    Stop. Lying. Rudy.
    -----------------------–
    Don't quote me what Rand Paul said about it? I know what he said. When you say that you never would have voted for the bill, you cannot turn around and then claim that your not against the bill.

    Have you even seen the video of what he said? Of course, not. Otherwise you wouldn't be defending him. The man was introduced, and then he started babbling about himself. No one asked him a gotcha question, or anything. You can watch the video and make your own judgement. Don't take Rand Paul's word for it. Search fro " Rachel Maddow Rand Paul Interview ".

    February 24, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    "Systemic corruption will not go away as long as these guys can use it to protect their incumbency."

    He's about as far from corrupt as it gets and he spent 58 years on Congress because his constituents chose to keep re-electing him because they felt he was doing a good job. Don't like it? Take it up with the founding fathers, who specifically recognized the fact that a person who CAN get re-elected will work to GET re-elected, whereas a term-limited person will be more susceptible to corruption because he has no reason to behave in a manner that will get him re-elected...because he can't be. Moreover, longevity brings experience and influence, which is what constituents want from their representatives, not a constant stream of inexperienced, uninformed neophyte ideologues like the Teatrolls who go into Congress and make a complete and utter freekin mess of everything because they don't know what they're doing, don't understand the procedures, are only there to throw a public fit for their own benefit and are willing, due to the ideologically stilted, cynical and addled perspective, to cause complete and utter breakdown in governance as their way of holding the country hostage to demand that they get what they want. Sorry, but what we've witnessed the past 6 years from the radicalized, extremist wing of the GOP/Teatrolls has been proof positive that term limits are not necessary and would, in fact, cause more problems than good.

    February 24, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  18. tom l

    "You didn't answer the question. And Hobby Lobby is not prohibiting ANYONE from any access to healthcare whatsoever. They've simply decided they're not going to PAY for it, and they have every right to do so."

    The rule they're fighting doesn't require them to pay for it. It falls on the insurers. They're fighting it because they literally want to be able to say that they have prevented anyone working for them from obtaining insurance through the company, no matter how paid for, that provides for these things. It's absurd.
    ====
    A gross mischaracterization, at best. A lie, at worst. They're fighting because they don't want to facilitate nor be a part of something they are vehemently against. Period. They aren't stopping anyone nor any employee from obtaining insurance nor are they preventing them from obtaining nor using birth control. Stop lying about that; it's just simply not true and degrades your credibility to have an honest discussion.

    February 24, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "From Rand Paul:"

    Citing Randroid's frantic walk-back blather is not exactly "winning" the argument against the accusation that what he initially said indicated some very bad things. He got caught saying some racist crap, or things that were, at the least, very insensitive to the issues and he had to rationalize it away. Anyone who saw footage of his comedy of errors at Howard University knows just how clueless he is when it comes to the race issue...and how much of a posterboy he is for the GOP/Teatrolls in that regard.

    February 24, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  20. sly

    An article about a distinguished, long serving patriotic American, and as usual, all we get is "whine, blame, call names".

    Americans – try to actually suggest a good idea once in awhile instead of criticizing congressmen who are all much more intelligent than you – and who try to suggest good ideas all the time.

    Pathetic citizens in this nation.

    February 24, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  21. tom l

    From Rand Paul:
    "It's a mischaracterization of my position. I've never been against the Civil Rights Act, ever, and I continue to be for the Civil Rights Act as well as the Voting Rights Act. There was a long, one interview that had a long, extended conversation about the ramifications beyond race, and I have been concerned about the ramifications of certain portions of the Civil Rights Act beyond race, as they are now being applied to smoking, menus, listing calories and things on menus, and guns. And so I do question some of the ramifications and the extensions but I never questioned the Civil Rights Act and never came out in opposition to the Civil Rights Act or ever introduced anything to alter the Civil Rights Act."

    Stop. Lying. Rudy.
    -------––
    Don't quote me what Rand Paul said about it? I know what he said. When you say that you never would have voted for the bill, you cannot turn around and then claim that your not against the bill.

    Have you even seen the video of what he said? Of course, not. Otherwise you wouldn't be defending him. The man was introduced, and then he started babbling about himself. No one asked him a gotcha question, or anything. You can watch the video and make your own judgement. Don't take Rand Paul's word for it. Search fro " Rachel Maddow Rand Paul Interview ".

    ========

    That quote is directly from him. I don't care about the video. We can all say things that might not come out exactly as we want them to. His explanation is perfectly reasonable and legitimate. He isn't against the Civil Rights Act and you are lying when you say that he is. He clarified what he said and it lines up directly with his actions. Not sure why you have to lie about someone's position. But that's what you do.

    February 24, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  22. tom l

    He's about as far from corrupt as it gets and he spent 58 years on Congress"
    =====

    And you know this how?

    February 24, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  23. ATPMSD

    One down, 434 to go. Stop reelecting incumbents! One term is all they should get.

    February 24, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  24. Ol' Yeller

    "Couldn't we also use that argument for your "minimum wage" diatribes that you spout off? I mean, it's a "choice" to work there, too, right? If you don't like that they're paying minimum wage, then "choose" to find another place of employment? Yup, you're right, it's totally about choice, unless the dems don't think it's right then they'll choose for you because they know better"

    Same old, same old- changing the argument to an apples v. oranges case... That is like saying 'at my company you have to agree to allow me to cut off your right arm to work here'. Cutting off arms is illegal and cannot be part of an employment agreement, just like not paying the minimum wage is against the law and cannot be part of an employment agreement (like the old minimum wage diatribe about 'why not raise it to 100 dollars an hour, or a thousand? Changing the parameteres when you are losing the argument).
    Anyone who argues against Unions is also arguing against every American's right to peacefully assemble. republicants have waged an all out war against American Workers having the right to peacefully assemble and I find it disgusting and reprehensible.
    You should all be ashamed of yourselves (but since most of you have never had to actually work for a living you have no idea what I am talking about; and those have you have worked... well, put down your kool aid and get on the side the American Worker here and not the corporate billionaires).

    "You load sixteen tons and what do you get,
    another day older and deeper in debt,
    St Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go...
    I owe my soul to the company store."
    Tennesse Ernie Ford
    before your time....

    February 24, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  25. Larry

    Thank you for your long public service. I for one appreciate it. There is so much hate and rancor anymore, I don't blame you for retiring. Enjoy your retirement!

    February 24, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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