(WASHINGTON) — Rep. John Dingell, who is serving his 30th term in the House of Representatives, is poised to break the record next week as the longest-serving member in the history of the U.S. Congress.
Next Friday, June 7, Dingell will eclipse the late Sen. Robert Byrd, having served 57 years, 177 days.
That’s 20,996 days, to be exact.
Throughout his career, Dingell has served with 22 percent of all members who have ever served in the lower chamber — 2,419 of 10,989 lawmakers — casting more than 25,000 votes through 11 presidential administrations while attending 50 State of the Union addresses.
Dingell, 86, first took office on Dec. 13, 1955 at the age of 29 after winning a special election to replace his late father, John Dingell Sr., as the representative for Michigan’s 15th Congressional District.
Dwight Eisenhower was serving his first term as president and had not yet signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. John F. Kennedy was still a U.S. senator and had not yet published his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Profiles in Courage.” Barack Obama would not be born in Hawaii for almost six more years.
Dingell, who can be seen leisurely walking throughout the Capitol with the help of a wooden cane, often drives a motorized scooter with a vanity license plate that reads, “The Dean” to commute between the Capitol and his congressional office across the street.
Dingell has owned the title of Dean of the House of Representatives since 1995, given for the longest continuous service of a current member.
The Michigan Democrat, born July 8, 1926, is not the oldest member of Congress. That honor goes to Rep. Ralph Hall, who is about three years older than Dingell.
Rep. John Conyers, a fellow Michigan Democrat who has served alongside Dingell since his own election to the House in 1965, previously worked for Dingell as a legislative aide, crediting him as his mentor.
“It has been a privilege to serve alongside Congressman Dingell in representing Michigan, and I congratulate him on this momentous milestone,” said Conyers, the second-longest current serving member of Congress. “Congressman Dingell’s dedication to public service is unmatched, and he has had a distinguished career leading the fight to advance health care reforms and increase environmental protections. Both my father and Congressman Dingell’s father were friends many years ago, and it has been an honor to call Congressman Dingell my friend over our time in Congress together.”
Since the House is not in session next Friday, lawmakers will regroup June 13 for a bicameral, bipartisan celebration of Dingell in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol.
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