The longest-serving representative in the history of Congress will be stepping down at the end of this term.
Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), who turns 88 years old in July, has served in the House for 58 years and 29 terms.
“I’m not going to be carried out feet first,” Dingell told the Detroit News. “I don’t want people to say I stayed too long.”
Dingell is expected to announce at a luncheon in his district today that he’ll retire from the seat he’s held since 1955.
“My doctor says I’m OK. And I’m still as smart and capable as anyone on the Hill. But I’m not certain I would have been able to serve out the two-year term,” the congressman told the paper.
“I find serving in the House to be obnoxious. It’s become very hard because of the acrimony and bitterness, both in Congress and in the streets,” he added. “This is not the Congress I know and love,” he says. “It’s hard for me to accept, but it’s time to cash it in.”
In June, Dingell broke the all-time record with 20,997 days served in Congress.
Dingell stoked controversy in 2010 when he said of ObamaCare “the harsh fact of the matter is when you’re going to pass legislation that will cover 300 American people in different ways it takes a long time to do the necessary administrative steps that have to be taken to put the legislation together to control the people.”
But he’s also earned liberals’ ire for years, being called names such as the “NRA’s waterboy” for opposing gun control.
Dingell has voted against gun-control measures such as bills allowing lawsuits against gun manufacturers, earning the NRA’s highest rating.
“John Dingell is a supreme fighter for working men and women who has built a record of accomplishment second to none. I have known no better person in government during my 35 years in Congress,” said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who’s also retiring. “His rare combination of legislative skill, steely determination, hard work and generosity of spirit have helped him play a vital role in almost every major congressional initiative over the last half century, including the civil rights revolution, historic protections for the environment, the establishment of Medicare and passage of landmark health insurance reforms.”
Dingell is just one of two World War II veterans remaining in Congress. The other, 90-year-old Republican Ralph Hall (Texas), is running for another term this fall.
Hall, who once pumped gas for Bonnie and Clyde, says it will be his last campaign.