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The PJ Tatler

Bridget Johnson


December 24, 2012 - 3:08 pm

A Texas Republican could be setting an example for those who want to raise the retirement age in entitlement reform.

Tomorrow, Rep. Ralph Hall, 89, will set the record for the oldest person ever to serve in the House.

Elected in 1980, Hall was just 57 when he began the first of his 16 terms in office. He was re-elected to a 17th term last month, representing the 4th District in the northeast corner of the state.

The record has been held up to this point by North Carolina Rep. Charles Manly Stedman, who died in office in 1930 at age 89 years, 7 months and 25 days.

A World War II Navy vet, Hall used to be “an old-time conservative Democrat,” endorsed George W. Bush for president in 2000, and switched to the Republican Party in 2004.

He’s hardly taking it easy, either, having served as chairman of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee this Congress.

On Nov. 27, Hall became the oldest House member in history to cast a vote — his 18,549th.

“Throughout his time in Congress, Chairman Hall has served this institution with style and humor,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) in marking that milestone. “It is an honor to work with Ralph as both a colleague and a friend. Ralph has always said, ‘I’d rather be respected at home than liked in Washington.’ Ralph, you actually have achieved that rare combination of both.”

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), who serves as Ranking Member on the science committee with Hall, said “Years in this body bring people together – whether they are Democrats or Republicans – but people from Texas are together when we get here. And so there’s nothing that would keep me from coming to say ‘congratulations’ to Mr. Hall.”

In a floor speech honoring Hall’s vote milestone, Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas), noted that as a young filling station employee, “Ralph pumped gas for Bonnie and Clyde” — and received a quarter as a tip from the notorious bank robbers.

Hall and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) are the last World War II vets in the House. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) is the last in the Senate after the passing of Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii).

Hall turns 90 years old on May 3.

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
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