Dingell sets the recordfor tenure in Congress

Michigan Democrat has served 57-plus years

Rep. John Dingell begins his record-setting day on Capitol Hill.
Rep. John Dingell begins his record-setting day on Capitol Hill.

WASHINGTON — Congress’ longest-serving member arrived at the House of Representatives when Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House, The Honeymooners was a top-rated television show, and teenagers danced to “Rock Around the Clock.”

As of Friday, Michigan Democrat John Dingell (D., Dearborn), 86, has served in Congress for 57 years, five months, and 26 days — exceeding by one day the record set by the late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, a Democrat, who died in office in 2010.

It was Mr. Dingell’s 20,997th day as a member of the House. Mr. Dingell, whose father served in the House 23 years, has served with 11 presidents — “I didn’t serve under any of them,” he said — “I served with them.”

His district included Monroe County until redistricting changed his district as of January. He has stamped his name on hundreds of pieces of legislation.

Richard Nixon? A great but bad man, Mr. Dingell said. John F. Kennedy? Exciting — but a man whose path to greatness was tragically cut short. Jimmy Carter was, sadly, too focused on details, and Gerald Ford was the most underrated guy around, Mr. Dingell said. Bill Clinton was remarkable, but an unfortunate failure. And the elder George Bush? Why, a great paddle-ball partner.

He penned the Endangered Species Act and he helped push landmarks such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 1990’s Clean Air Act, and more recently, the Affordable Care Act.