February 24th, 2014
10:06 AM ET
2 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. LOYALRIGHT

    I wish all Democrats would follow his lead and retire. This country would be better off.

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

    Didn't want people to say he overstayed his welcome? I think he overstayed his welcome so long that most people got tired of saying it like 15 years ago. The rest died of old age themselves.

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

    "They're fighting because they don't want to facilitate nor be a part of something they are vehemently against."

    And they're not. Their corporation is.

    "They aren't stopping anyone nor any employee from obtaining insurance nor are they preventing them from obtaining nor using birth control"

    I'm not lying about it. That's what they want. They want, ultimately, to be able to say 'you can't work here if you use birth control." That is the natural extension of fighting the rule that they are fighting. The rule they are fighting does not require them to pay for it. It requires the insurance provider through whom they offer their employees insurance to offer it to the employee without expense to the employer. You know, the employer, which is the corporation, not the people who started or own it, and is therefore, unless it has followed all of the legal steps to become a religious institution and be recognized as such, is nothing more than a for-profit secular corporation incapable of having religious beliefs. If they want the benefit of the liability rules that apply to having a corporation, which is the main reason for corporations existing in the first place, i.e., so that if it fails etc., your house and cars and all your personal property don't get sucked up by whatever liability the corporation incurred, then they need to start accepting that the corporation is separate from them personally AT ALL TIME, not just when they like it.

    February 24, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "I wish all Democrats would follow his lead and retire. This country would be better off."

    This country would be a Christian version of Iran within a few months if that happened.

    February 24, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  5. jerry9997

    Thank goodness, what a left wing piece of crap he was. He overstayed his welcome by decades. I guess he has now stolen enough money from US taxpayers and wants to go blow in on pole dancing girls and whatever.
    Good riddance.

    February 24, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  6. tom l

    I'm not lying about it. That's what they want. They want, ultimately, to be able to say 'you can't work here if you use birth control."
    ====
    Please find a quote or any proof of said desire from Hobby Lobby. Now you have officially gone from gross mischaracterization to outright lying.

    February 24, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    "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."

    The video will keep Rand Paul out of the White House. He was quite clear during the interview. He began a racist rant, and Rachel Maddow allowed him to babble on to his heart's content. Paul said that he felt store owners should be allowed to discrimminate against certain races if they wanted to. Paul said that he didn't support the Civil Rights Act, which he didn't deny. Paul denied saying he was against the Civil Rights Act, which we know he didn't say.

    Rand Paul will never be POTUS. Between his rants and his father's newsletters, Rand Paul is doomed to be a footnote. You don't care about the video for one simple reason, tom. You don't care what the facts are. The facts don't fit the narrative, so we ignore them. They're Paul's own words.

    February 24, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  8. Bob

    Thank yo for your service Congress Man Dingle.

    February 24, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  9. Todd

    The right wants ALL democrats out so they can enact Sharia Law.

    February 24, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  10. PrincePoliblog (@PrincePoliblog)

    "I wish all Democrats would follow his lead and retire. This country would be better off."

    You guys could just try winning elections, that works too you know. Further, The House this year has done LESS than the infamous "Do Nothing Congress" of 1947.

    February 24, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "I'm not lying about it. That's what they want. They want, ultimately, to be able to say 'you can't work here if you use birth control."
    ====
    Please find a quote or any proof of said desire from Hobby Lobby. Now you have officially gone from gross mischaracterization to outright lying."

    I don't need a direct quote from them. It's a direct extension of their argument when understood in the context of the particular rule they're fighting. They believe their personal "religious freedom" is being infringed if their non-living, non-thinking, separate entity of a corporation, even in the most attenuated of ways, provide birth control to employees....even when the law takes great pains to not make it a mandate on the corporation itself. Moreover, the widespread attempts across the country to push legislation like AZ's idiots state legislature just enacted, attempting to call it "religious freedom" to refuse to serve gays or employ people not of their religious "liking" etc., speaks enough for the entire thing to be understood as such. They've all flipped every bit of it on its head and tried to make themselves out to be the "real" victims, that they're being "persecuted for their religious beliefs" simply because the laws won't allow them to discriminate based on those beliefs or impose them on everyone else. NONSENSE.

    February 24, 2014 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  12. Barry G.

    Is he going to go work for a lobbying firm now?

    I understand some legislators become lobbyists and make up to $1,000,000 to $2,000,000, per year.

    That's what's wrong with this country.

    February 24, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  13. stupifyery

    This guy was on the Gov payroll far too long. Two term max. for Congress and the Senate. Anything else is corruption.

    February 24, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  14. Charlie

    How did John Dingell amass a fortune of 105 million.
    What a peice of self-serving dung.

    February 24, 2014 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  15. What could go wrong?

    He obviously must be from a Democrat gerrymandered district. Why else would this fossil be in there?

    February 24, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  16. GTS58

    Dingell "Never Saw" a government program he did not like – never missed a chance to expand government over the people! Dingell is the poster boy for term limits – should have been gone decades ago! Good riddance!

    February 24, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  17. Ol' Yeller

    "Please find a quote or any proof of said desire from Hobby Lobby."

    Why!?!? You won't believe a video of rand paul saying he is/was/always will be against the Civil Rights Act... you call Rudy a liar saying you do not care what he said on video, because you had a written statement where he said they were liars... everyone is lying. Liars, Liars...

    Then you cry about about name callers.
    You are hypocricy personified....

    February 24, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  18. Ol' Yeller

    "The video will keep Rand Paul out of the White House. He was quite clear during the interview. He began a racist rant, and Rachel Maddow allowed him to babble on to his heart's content. Paul said that he felt store owners should be allowed to discrimminate against certain races if they wanted to. Paul said that he didn't support the Civil Rights Act..."

    Oh yes, don't forget his neverending 'free market corrections' argument. According to rand, you never have to do anything, no rules, regulations, guidelines, etc... the free market will correct anything that is wrong.
    Tell that Upton Sinclair. Before he wrote , 'The Jungle', it was quite normal for rats and other rodents to fall into the meat grinding machine and be packaged up and sold to customers. No stopping and cleaning the machine and getting rid of the vermin or tainted meat. In fact, in one case a Worker fell in and the staff was ordered to keep the line running.
    Yes, businesses will always do the right thing and we don't need no stinking rules or regulations.
    You keep on believing that now.... and enjoy your 'Big Mac'.

    February 24, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    @Paul Cardosi: "it really disgusts me that any person would stay in office that long."

    The voters in his district reelected him because they valued his service. What do you have against representative democracy?

    February 24, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Ol' Yeller wrote:

    "Please find a quote or any proof of said desire from Hobby Lobby."

    Why!?!? You won't believe a video of rand paul saying he is/was/always will be against the Civil Rights Act... you call Rudy a liar saying you do not care what he said on video, because you had a written statement where he said they were liars... everyone is lying. Liars, Liars...

    Then you cry about about name callers.
    You are hypocricy personified....
    -----------------–
    [ co-sign ]

    February 24, 2014 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain

    @LOYALRIGHT: "I wish all Democrats would follow his lead and retire. This country would be better off."

    You know, if all the GOP/tea bags' economic, military and foreign policies weren't proven failures, I'd say you have a point.

    But they are – and you don't.

    February 24, 2014 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  22. ThinkAgain

    @Sniffit: "They aren't stopping anyone nor any employee from obtaining insurance nor are they preventing them from obtaining nor using birth control"

    I'm not lying about it. That's what they want. They want, ultimately, to be able to say 'you can't work here if you use birth control." That is the natural extension of fighting the rule that they are fighting.

    --
    Calling all RWNJs! Looking for a country where corporations can dictate your religious beliefs? Where churches are onsite at your place of work? Where if you don't conform to the religious beliefs of the corporation, you won't get prompted or will get let go?

    Then I have a country for you: Russia! Yes, in Russia right now it is very common for corporations to have their own churches – and can make as a requirement of employment your attendance at Bible study! Not your version of Christianity? No worries – you can go work somewhere else. They're just trying to make sure you have eternal salvation – and if you can't find work and starve to death, you'll experience eternity even sooner!

    So hop on that plane or get on that boat, RWNJs – Mother Russia and her religious corporations are waiting for you. Anti-gay sentiment thrown in at no extra charge!

    Dasvidaniya

    February 24, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  23. sbraee

    being elected a member of the house used to be about public service. its now become a career.

    February 24, 2014 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  24. Wake up People!

    Dang Ol Yeller, now I've got to Google Upton Sinclair........ But thanks for the info.

    February 24, 2014 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  25. Expat

    Two words for the United States: Term Limits

    February 24, 2014 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
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