U.S. Rep. John Dingell's time in Congress to end, announces retirement
Update 3:30 p.m.
President Obama issued this statement in response to Dingell's announcement:
Serving nearly six decades in the House of Representatives, John Dingell has earned the distinction of being both the longest-serving Member of Congress in U.S. history and one of the most influential legislators of all time. After serving his country in the Army during World War II, John was first elected to Congress in 1955 – representing the people of southeastern Michigan in a seat previously held by his father. In Washington, John risked his seat to support the Civil Rights Act of 1964, fought to pass Medicare in 1965, and penned legislation like the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act that have kept millions of Americans healthy and preserved our natural beauty for future generations.
But of all John’s accomplishments, perhaps the most remarkable has been his tireless fight to guarantee quality, affordable health care for every American. Decades after his father first introduced a bill for comprehensive health reform, John continued to introduce health care legislation at the beginning of every session. And as an original author of the Affordable Care Act, he helped give millions of families the peace of mind of knowing they won’t lose everything if they get sick. Today, the people of Michigan – and the American people – are better off because of John Dingell’s service to this country, and Michelle and I wish him, his wife Debbie, and their family the very best.
And Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak issued this statement:
"Congressman Dingell served with great dignity and respect. We wish him the best of health and blessings with his retirement.”
Speaking at a luncheon today at the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber of Commerce, Rep. John Dingell announced his retirement today.
"I'm not leaving the downriver. I'm not leaving Michigan," Dingell said.
From Dingell's speech:
Around this time every two years, my wife Deborah and I confer on the question of whether I will seek reelection. 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.
During a Q&A after his speech Dingell said the single most important vote he cast during his time in Congress was his vote in favor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
"It was a hard fight, but it solved a problem that was eating at the heart and soul and liver of this country ... [if it hadn't passed] it would have left us with undivided anger and bitterness. We have not solved that problem and there is much to be done."
There's a lot of speculation that Dingell's wife Deborah will run for his seat. Dingell said she has not decided yet whether she will run.
"If she runs, I will vote for her," he said.
After his Q&A, the room sang "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow."
You can watch Dingell announce his retirement live below (courtesy of the Detroit Free Press):
*The luncheon has ended.
Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress, made his announcement to the Detroit papers this morning. From the Detroit Free Press:
U.S. Rep. John Dingell, a Dearborn Democrat who replaced his father in the House some 58 years ago and became one of the most powerful members of Congress ever, will step down after this year, capping a career umatched in its longevity and singular in its influence and sweep.
Dingell, 87, told the Free Press that he’d reached the decision to retire at the end of his current term — his 29th full one — rather than run for re-electon because it was time, given a list of achievements that any other member of Congress would envy, and his continued frustration over partisan gridlock.
Dingell said "I'm not going to be carried out feet first." From Detroit News' Nolan Finely:
“I don’t want people to say I stayed too long.”
Dingell says 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 I’m not certain I would have been able to serve out the two-year term.”
More than health concerns, Dingell says a disillusionment with the institution drove his decision to retire.
“I find serving in the House to be obnoxious,” he says. “It’s become very hard because of the acrimony and bitterness, both in Congress and in the streets.”
So the question turns to who will run for his seat. And being the longest serving member in Congress, you can expect to see many posts around the web highlighting his career. Here's one we did last year.
*This post is being updated.